By Brian Ossip, DC Music Live
Longtime veteran of the scene and one-third component of Alkaline Trio, Matt Skiba has played in just about every venue in every city in the country, as well as a host of others overseas. Yet despite all of this, when he brought his latest solo project Matt Skiba and the Sekrets to D.C., one couldn’t help but notice the seemingly nervous and uncomfortable aura about him.
Skiba and the Sekrets are out on tour in support of their debut record, Babylon, which was released last month. The group, which includes AFI bassist Hunter Burgan and My Chemical Romance drummer Jarrod Alexander, were just three shows in when they took the stage at the Black Cat on Sunday night.
As someone who has been to almost 20 Alkaline Trio shows in the last four to five years, it was obvious that something seemed slightly off onstage. Babylon is an incredible album, one that any Trio fan could easily fall in love with—the driving riffs and sing-a-long choruses, not to mention Skiba’s unmistakable voice all summon sounds of Trio’s catalogue. But whether it was nerves, a new band getting used to playing together or the fact that Skiba’s voice is admittedly in bad shape (to the point where his tour manager told me they were thinking of seeing a doctor before the next show), Matt never seemed comfortable and himself onstage, like he always is playing alongside Dan Andriano and Derek Grant.
Normally at ease with the crowd and in front of the microphone, Skiba looked out of sync and trying a bit too hard to relax. His banter with the crowd was kept to a minimum, and only on a few occasions did he venture away from the microphone to jam out with his band members.
That is not to say, however, that the show was a dud. Far from it, actually. The songs, which already sound great on the album, take on a new life and new energy live. Skiba’s band, rounded out by another guitarist and keyboard player, were tight as can be and obviously well rehearsed. And even with his voice less than 100 percent, there are few out there that can sing quite like Matt Skiba. Despite the fact that he was hindered, he still gave full effort at putting on the best show he could.
Whether or not Matt Skiba and the Sekrets are a one-off band and album or a project that lives on, it is an act that should be checked out. Hopefully Skiba’s voice will soon return and the shows will be fuller of energy, resembling his best work with Alkaline Trio.