Pretty much everything they played was at two speeds - fast and faster. No power ballads for these guys. Their music can best be described as manic power pop with colossal rock 'n' roll riffs and chords that wouldn't be out of place in the Rolling Stone or AC/DC cannon.
Sure, you could say that a lot of their music sounds alike or that they lack variety. Musically, are they a one-trick pony with a Stripes-like costume gag? Perhaps. But for pure, high energy fun, they are hard to beat. Pelle Almqvist makes the Strokes front man Julian Casablancas seems rather sedate in comparison.
Opening quartet Locksley, originally from Madison, Wisconsin, were surprisingly good. Their brand of infectious power pop was an excellent match for the Hives and the openers even included the White Stripes "Hotel Yorba" and the Rolling Stones classic "Get Off My Cloud". I could hear people beside me being wowed by Locksley, and I made a point of shaking hands with the lead singer as he was doing the roadie thing for his gear, and telling him that I would buy their CD. As it turns out, they had two discs for sale and I bought both from the drummer (Sam Bair) as the fans were exiting. Locksley reminded me of the UK band Franz Ferdinand, who also have a bit of a classic British sound, along the lines of the Kinks. Their guitarist, Kai Kennedy, was also surprisingly adept. They are named after the fabled land where Robin Hood is from.
The sound from my vantage point wasn't great and it sure appeared as if Almqvist's microphone quit a number of times. But, when you're that close to the band, bouncing up and down along with a bunch of happy people, you just can't help but have a great time. If you were further back, you experience may have varied.
I noticed that few seats were sold in the top level were sold and it was later announced that about 1100 people showed up. The venue holds about 1642.