By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Jul 03, 2008 at 1:15 AM Photography: Whitney Teska

Alkaline Trio released a new record, "Agony & Irony" (Epic) on Tuesday, July 1 and played Summerfest's U.S. Cellular stage the next day.

Chances were, the Chicago-based band was pumped to play its new stuff to an ample crowd of eager, new-found fans, and was not going to waste its time with vintage revelry.

We couldn't have been more wrong.

Despite the new, radio-friendly material encompassing the majority of "Agony & Irony," Matt Skiba, Dan Andriano and Derek Grant dove head first into a nostalgic set, beginning with the opening track from the 2001 Vagrant Records release "From Here to Infirmary."

"Private Eye" led the way for "Clavicle" from "Goddamnit" and it quickly became apparent that the band was catering more to the fans from '98, as opposed to those unfamiliar with the material from this year's 10-year anniversary Asian Man Records re-release of "Goddamnit Redux."

The predominantly under-21 crowd perked up for recent hits like "Mercy Me" and several newbies like "Help Me" and "In Vein" (thank you,, but the lifers showed their colors during near-perfect renditions of Alkaline Trio classics like "Armageddon," 'Crawl" and the song that ultimately brings down the house every time, "Radio."

There's just something about a sea of (relatively) young people shouting in unison, "I've got a big fat f*cking bone to pick with you, my darling" that justifies Alkaline Trio's existence. The truth is, the band hasn't evolved all that much since 1998, and, amazingly, the power pop, punk rock angst of love, loss, alcohol and death hasn't either. Alkaline Trio is essentially the same band is set out to be a decade ago and, despite the lineup changes, has remained true to its inner youthful demon.

The new record reveals Skiba swaying political with songs like "Over and Out," which relate obvious war-related grievances . But before you sweep it into the modern politico Green Day category, it's probably best to remember that Alkaline Trio, with its witty remarks and catchy hooks, is never going to out-grow an audience ready to embrace the darker, indulgent, introspective side of life, no matter how much fun it turns out being. Perhaps there's a message hidden in there somewhere, but you might have to sift through the party favors to get to it.


Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”