November 19, 2008
Photo by Joe Issacs
The Hold Steady almost killed me at their show on Friday. I’m pretty sure we partied, and Chicago seemed anything but tired as the band rolled through with Drive-By Truckers on their co-headlining “Rock and Roll Means Well” Tour. Together the bands provided one of the most life-affirming rock shows that I’ve ever attended. The connection between band and audience seen at this show was completely outstanding. Unfortunately I left my camera in the car for this show, but one of the Hold Steady fans I met at the show got some great shots and agreed to let me use them. Thanks, Joe.
It was the The Drive-By Truckers turn that night to open up the show and they definitely proved to me why they’re one of the most respected and acclaimed indie rock bands out there. I’m only familiar with a handful of the songs played, but I was thoroughly impressed by their Southern-fried style and guitar expertise. An early highlight was “The Righteous Path”, my favorite song from the band’s new album. There was a huge cheer when the band sang “tryin’ to hold steady on the righteous path”, a telling sign of the band the vast majority of the crowd came to see. The band continued with its southern rock anthems, with “Zip City” and “Lookout Mountain” (which featured some very cool lights) being my favorite. One song I would have liked to hear was “Marry Me”, which I figured, being the theme song of the whole shindig, would be played. Otherwise, awesome set, but nothing compared to what was to come.
Photo by Joe Issacs
If anything is to be said about The Hold Steady, it’s that the band knows how to open a show. “Massive Nights” was the first song played and the crowd just literally exploded. Every person up front jumping, reaching towards the band, and screaming the chorus at the top of their lungs. It was like everyone unleashed all the energy they had stored up at once, and I couldn’t help but join on the fun (maybe it was good I forgot my camera for this reason). “Constructive Summer”, the exceptional opener to my <spoiler alert> album of the year <spoiler alert/>, was played next and thrust anyone that wasn’t already in rock-and-roll heaven straight up with the call-and-response “gonna build something this summer” chorus. I find it amazing how a guy like Craig Finn who on the outside looks like any short, balding, middle-aged guy transforms into a complete rock-and-roll god when up on the stage. Kudos to you, Craig.
The classic jam, “Multitude of Casualties” was up next, from perhaps the band’s most loved album, Separation Sunday and as Finn spit out the words the fans sang back every word to him. Many of the fans had homemade t-shirts, and almost all of them seemed to know the entire Hold Steady catalog by heart. Next up, was perhaps my favorite Hold Steady song, “Stuck Between Stations” which hearing in that environment made me so very, very happy. I made a point to watch Franz during the piano solo, and the man’s incredible. The momentum didn’t stop for almost the whole set as the band cranked out old favorites (“The Swish” “Banging Camp”) new favorites (“Magazines” “Chips Ahoy!”) and obscure fan-approved favorites (“You Gotta Dance”, “Milkcrate Mosh”)
Photo by Joe Issacs
I have to say that the best moments for me were the newer songs, primarily because I’m a newer fan and I know all the words to those songs. For me it didn’t get much better than the three song punch of “Stay Positive”, “Sequestered in Memphis” and “Lord I’m Discouraged”. Each song built up one another culminating in Tad’s larger-than-life guitar solo during “Lord” (played on a sweet double guitar no less). It was a seriously glorious moment, as the crowd all grabbed each other’s shoulders and swayed. They then played the lovely ballad, “Don’t Let Me Explode” before closing it off with epic Stay Positive closer “Slapped Actress”. Even after the band left the stage the crowd continued singing the “Oh, Ohhhhs.
The Truckers joined The Hold Steady on stage for the encore with kicked off with a bang with “Your Little Hoodrat Friend” and “Chillout Tent”, which featured Patterson and Shonna hilariously singing the parts of the teenagers. After that we got three covers from the band, a great performance of BOCs “Burning For You” and then a couple of AC/DC songs. The band wasn’t about to leave the stage though without rocking us one more time with their traditional closing number, “Killer Parties”. Singing the final words of the song, “I remember we departed from our bodies” (which aptly describes my feelings at the time), ranks up there with my all-time favorite concert moments. In short, everything about this massive night was phenomenal. The Hold Steady provide the very definition of an awesome rock show and I urge you to check them out if you have the chance. They are something everyone should experience.
Follow the jump for some more Hold Steady pics.
Below Photos by Joe Issacs
Head on over to Pictures For Kids Who Can’t Read Good for all of Joe’s pictures.