Live Review: The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady concluded the tour in support of Boys & Girls In America this past Wednesday night by playing to a packed house at New York’s new home for large scale indie-bands, Terminal 5. The tour has kept the band on the road since just after the record’s release late last summer, but in no way did that seem to diminish the energy Craig Finn and co. brought with them to the stage. In fact I brought my younger brother with me to the show, who isn’t really much of a music fan and hadn’t ever heard The Hold Steady’s music before, and he got such a kick out of Finn - first with a “wait, that guy is the lead singer?!?” first impression and later by both his onstage antics (the unabashedly dorky waving, clapping, ranting, smiling, dancing), as well as those of the suit-and-mustached keyboardist Franz Nicolay.

It was clear from the outset that the band was excited to play its final show in its adoptive home city. They ripped through the first 3 songs (“Hot Soft Lights”, “Stuck Between Stations”, and “Chips Ahoy!”) from last year’s critically adored album to get the crowd into a quick frenzy. I haven’t witnessed that much (good-natured) pushing, nor crowd-surfing, in an audience in a long time, and the band barely provided an opportunity to for them to catch their breath until the end of the 90 minute set.

They focused much of their set on the highlights from Boys & Girls In America (playing everything save “Same Kooks”, “Citrus”, and “Chillout Tent”) and Separation Sunday, with a few notable new songs thrown in for good measure. Highlights of the main included “The Swish” from Almost Killed Me (the only song I can think of that namedrops the Tuskan Raiders and gets away with it), “Party Pit”, and a new song that seems destined to be a fan favorite called, I think, “Ask Her For The Adderol”.

The main set closed with “Southtown Girls”, followed by a 3 song encore of “First Night” and album closers “How A Resurrection Really Feels” and “Killer Parties”, during which they were joined by members of opener Art Brut. There was a lot of obvious emotion coming from the stage over these final few songs, as Craig Finn thanked the crowd repeatedly for all the support the band has received over the past year +, and tearfully remarked that “there’s so much joy on this stage in doing what we do” to a rousing ovation. I left that night thinking that it might have been the best show I saw all year. Thanks Wagner.

MP3 :: The Swish
(from Almost Killed Me. Buy here)

MP3 :: Your Little Hoodrat Friend
(from Separation Sunday. Buy here)

MP3 :: Stuck Between Stations (Live on the Current)
MP3 :: First Night
(originally from Boys & Girls In America. Buy here)

The photos aren't from the show. They are from The Food Of The Future.


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