There are so many reasons why I love The Hold Steady. One, the band members are my age, so they are old enough to know better. Second, the lead singer/songwriter and lead guitarist grew up in the upper Midwest and often reference their geography in their songs. I also grew up in the upper Midwest, so I get the references. Thrice, their music is obviously highly influenced by 1980s college radio, which I listened to obsessively as a teenager. Combine these facts and you can see why I love their music.
I have lived/am currently living some of their lyrics. "...and the early 7 Seconds taught me some of life's most valuable lessons..." ("Stay Positive") I used to lie to my parents about going to 7 Seconds shows and get home after curfew and get my ass kicked. "...I said it's great to see you're still in the bars..." ("Barfruit Blues") 99 out of 100 times when I am out at the bars, I am the oldest one there. "...we kissed in your car and drank from your purse..." ("Massive Nights") Self- explanatory.
But the main reason that I love The Hold Steady is that they fucking rock the live show! THS played a two-night stand in Toronto at Lee's Palace on Saturday, September 26, and Sunday, September 27. I didn't have my shit together enough to attend both shows, so I just caught the Sunday nighter.
Their set spanned all four of their albums, with equal time given to 2004's Almost Killed Me through 2008's Stay Positive. I was delighted to hear some of the older tracks. When I saw them in 2007, they only played one song from Almost Killed Me. The show opened the same way it did in 2007, with "Hornets! Hornets!" Only this time the ruckus crowd loudly sang along.
THS played for over an hour and a half, and even tried out some new tracks. Though the crowd didn't know the words to the new ones, they still danced up a storm. Such a great audience! And THS is tighter than ever. Every time smiley and spastic lead singer Craig Finn got ahead or behind the beat, the rest of the band would real him back in.
Towards the end of the show the Minneapolis native and Minnesota Vikings fan Finn thanked Mr. Brett Favre for beating the San Francisco 49ers on a last minute play earlier that Sunday, much to the chagrin of the Wisconsinites in the band (and in the audience). If Hallelujah can be resurrected, I guess there is hope for Mr. Favre and those lousy Vikings. Hell, there may even be hope for me.
Note: by about the 10th song I was hammered, so this set list may be highly inaccurate. I even wrote how drunk I was in my notes after misspelling "Jamica." See the scans of my notes below. I couldn't remember the song names so I started writing some of the lyrics. It took a lot of detective work and Googling to decipher my hieroglyphics. Brutal. I'm a wasteoid. And old enough to know better.
1. Hornets! Hornets!
2. The Swish
3. Navy Sheets
4. Banging Camp
5. Our Whole Lives - New!
7. Sequestered in Memphis
8. One for the Cutters
9. Constructive Summer
10. One of the Hallelujah/Holly songs, I think. Or it may be a new one. I'm confused. Just say no to drugs, kids.
11. You Can Make Him Like You
12. Stuck Between Stations
13. Chips Ahoy
14. Joke About Jamaica
15. Charlemagne in Sweatpants
16. Don't Let Me Explode
17. Stay Positive
18. Sweet Payne
19. New - "we don't have a name for it yet"
20. Little Hoodrat Friend
21. Most People are DJs
22. How a Resurrection Really Feels
You can listen to some of the new tracks here.
You Can Make Him Like You.mp3
Buy: A Positive Rage (CD/DVD combo 2009)
Toronto indie rockers Still Life Still opened the show. I didn't really know anything about this band going in, but I had heard a bit of buzz about them from the local entertainment rags. They played mostly from their 2009 release Girls Come Too. This album was produced by Martin Davis Kinack, noted producer for Broken Social Scene, and Kevin Drew, musician from Broken Social Scene. Drew seems to be mentoring a lot of up-and-coming Toronto bands. Still Life Still did a great job of warming up the crowd with their high-energy alt rock. Normally I'm a snob and I skip the opening band, but I'm glad I got there early to see these young lads. I would see them live again.
Buy: Girls Come Too (2009)