Strange but true: nobody in this country has been as dedicated for as long to the legacy of the Nuggets collection as the Swedish have. Though they’ve all worshiped slightly different heroes, bands like the Nomads, Union Carbide Productions, and the Hellacopters have kept the flame burning brighter than anybody in Detroit or elsewhere for the better part of two decades. The Hives are just one of a pack of Swedish acts working similar territory today–but they’re the first to break into the American mainstream. A few months ago Reprise reissued the band’s Veni Vidi Vicious (originally released in the States two years ago by Epitaph), the video for “Hate to Say I Told You So” is in regular rotation on MTV2, and the band’s Metro show this week is sold-out. It’s not a total surprise, what with the popularity of the Strokes and the White Stripes–plus the Hives are considerably more camera friendly than many of their antecedents, sporting dapper matching suits and sometimes even ascots. The band was supposedly assembled in the industrial town of Fagersta in the mid-90s by a mysterious Svengali named Randy Fitzsimmons, who’s not in the group but writes all the songs. Whether this is bullshit or not doesn’t matter much–the originals are largely propulsive composites of various punk and garage classics. But Veni Vidi Vicious is charged with a relentless, infectious energy, and the production and arrangements lend a nice clarity to the nonstop riffing of guitarists Nicholaus Arson and Chris Dangerous. Front man Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist steals the show, ranting in a timeless snotty yell endearingly punctuated by a recurring postpubescent squeak. And the Hives do break type in a couple of ways, employing tasteful synths here and there and chilling out on a surprisingly effective cover of “Find Another Girl,” the 1961 hit for Chicago soul legend Jerry Butler. The New Bomb Turks and the Mooney Suzuki open. Wednesday, June 5, 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Karl Haglund.