Monday, October 30th, 2006

If She Said We Partied Then I'm Pretty Sure We Partied

Some tips for anyone planning to dress up for Hallowe’en as Craig Finn of The Hold Steady – get a bowling shirt, a pair of glasses with thick, black plastic frames, drink as much as you sweat and lead your band through a seriously ass-kicking show at the Horseshoe this past Saturday night.

It’s a bit tough to come up with fresh things to say about The Hold Steady’s show since I used up all my good material when they played Lee’s barely three months ago. In the interim, they’ve released one of the year’s best and most acclaimed records in Boys And Girls In America and have also converted me into a huge fan. This time, they brought the same boundless energy that they had at Lee’s but when compressed into a club a helluva lot smaller, it became positively explosive. Though I don’t think it was sold out, it was hellaciously packed and the audience was as psyched as I’ve ever seen a Toronto audience – it was a veritable party pit up front. The band in turn fed off that enthusiasm and gave back to us in the form of pure rock awesomeness.

Also making a huge difference was being intimately familiar with their whole catalog this time around and being able to get right into the song from the first note. Of course, seeing them in three times in three months also meant that I was intimately familiar with some of their banter as well – Finn once again pulled out the Saint Barbara monologue before “Don’t Let Me Explode” but that’s okay, it was still great. Hell, everything was great. Though with the new album they’ve aspired to greater things and proved at at Lollapalooza that they can own a huge stage as well as a small one, there’s no denying that the band at their most potent in a crowded, sweaty bar. I don’t expect they’ll be playing anywhere that small again anytime soon, so dang that’s one to remember. If you’re anywhere near the remaining tour dates, do yourself a favour and get a ticket now. And Torontonians who missed them this time around or need another hit, note that they’ll be in Buffalo on December 13 – and what’s better than Buffalo in December? Nothing.

Along for the ride this time was fellow native Minnesotans Sean Na Na, who mine a similarly classic rock vein but from a more pop (think Cheap Trick) direction. It was alright but I preferred their between song banter which was an entertaining sort of deadpan, ironic arrogance. Considering that frontman Sean Tillmann’s other project as Har Mar Superstar involves him breakdancing in his underwear, I wasn’t expecting too much in the way of musical merit but was pleasantly surprised.

But seriously, if you’re going to dress up as anyone in the Hold Steady tomorrow, it’s got to be Franz Nicolay – all you need is the moustache, the rest takes care of itself.

Billboard talks to the band about the somewhat unexpected but totally deserved chart success of Boys And Girls while Tad Kubler fesses up to The Ottawa Sun about their uncool influences. MTV talks to them about Kerouac, The Detroit News about being a teenager, The Boston Herald about The Boss, Tiny Mix Tapes about fandom and Harp about signing autographs.

eMusic has an exclusive Boys And Girls bonus track available and the band’s interview/session with Minnesota Public Radio is now online to stream.

Photos: The Hold Steady, Sean Na Na @ The Horseshoe – October 28, 2006
MP3: The Hold Steady – “Chips Ahoy!”
MP3: The Hold Steady – “Stuck Between Stations” (live on MPR)
MP3: Sean Na Na – “Double Date”
MP3: Sean Na Na – “Grew Into My Body”
Video: The Hold Steady – “Chips Ahoy!” (YouTube)
MySpace: The Hold Steady
MySpace: Sean Na Na

Harp discusses the joys of scoring films with Paul Westerberg while Richard Buckner tells them how much of an influence The Replacements had on him.

Pitchfork discusses The Crane Wife with The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy (another Replacements acolyte, if you need to continue the meme). NPR will also be streaming their show in Washington tonight at 9:30PM ET. Only three days left in the Decemberists contest!

np – DeVotchKa / How It Ends

By : Frank Yang at 8:21 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this post13 Responses.
  1. Cobber says:

    Truly an awesome concert. Craig Finn is easily one of the most dynamic frontmen I’ve ever seen.

    You don’t happen to have a setlist do you. There were some tunes I wasn’t familiar with.

  2. Frank says:

    unfortunately no. Dude behind me totally broke etiquette and snagged Franz’s set list from right in front of me as soon as the main set was over, even though the encore songs were written on it.

    I think I counted two songs I didn’t know – one was the "Guys Go For Looks, Girls Go For Status" tune, the other I don’t remember…

  3. Sarah says:

    There were only two encore songs on the set list and I can’t remember what they were. I was standing beside the setlist snagger. I could not believe he did that. Totally brazen.

    I’m surprised you didn’t end up with a black eye, Frank. The person to your left was a little careless when it came to elbow placement.

    BTW, "Girls Like Status" is one of the bonus "Boys and Girls in America" tracks you can get through iTunes. I didn’t recognize the tune they played before "Killer Parties."

  4. Moi says:

    "The person to your left was a little careless when it came to elbow placement."

    I saw this guy – he was everywhere :)

  5. Quinn says:

    Girls Like Status.. damn.

    In Vancouver they played "You’ve Gotta Dance (With Who You Came With)," which was a bonus track on the import of Almost Killed Me, and on some comp…

    the other one might have been that.

  6. mike says:

    I made it to The Hold Steady show at the Horseshoe on Saturday night and it was fantastic. I finally get your "Robert Pollard meets the E-Street Band" description you gave of the band in your review of their show at Lee’s Palace earlier this year – he doesn’t so much sound like Mr. Pollard as exude the same sort of charisma onstage.

  7. courtney says:

    I’m going tonight in Boston (Cambridge), and I can’t wait!!

  8. Sarah says:

    I’m starting to think that a roadtrip to Buffalo in December would be good. Despite the fact that the show’s on a school night.

  9. Dave Curtis says:

    OK, I’m calling it. Although still great (I jumped around a lot and sweated over people a lot and I’m wondering if I’m the elbow guy), I actually felt this to be the show with least energy of the 3 they’ve played in town. And yes, it was still a high energy rock show, which translated to a lot of fun. But samey banter (def. less of it too, compared with the Lee’s show) and a feeling that, yes, these r ‘n’ r heroes were actually a little tired, left me just a tiny bit disappointed. Though how they do it, I don’t know. And, going massively against the grain here, I’m really not enamoured with the new record. I’m pretty sure the chronicling of all those Massive Nights will stop next time. I hope so, because I think that theme has become pretty tired. And I still love ’em.

  10. Frank says:

    obviously, Dave, you’re crazy.

    Actually I see where you’re coming from. I was definitely a bit disappointed there wasn’t more banter – that was the third time I heard the Saint Barbara story – and if you’re not feeling the record than I can understand that would translate to less enthusiasm to hearing it live. But while I don’t usually like the super-jostley shows, I totally enjoyed this one.

    In conclusion, you’re crazy.

  11. Sarah says:

    Interesting that you thought the energy was lower, Dave. For me it was higher, but since I’ve only ever seen them once before with a "crowd" of 30 people, it’s not a fair comparison.

    I had such a good time at this show and I think a lot of it had to do with how up the crowd was, particularly for a Toronto event. It’s nice to know that we can have our socks rocked loose, if not off completely.

    (As for being the "elbow guy," Dave, were you chanting "USA! USA!" between the encore sets? If so, you’re the one.)

  12. courtney says:

    The Boston show was good, although plagued by equipment failures, and suddenly thinking they were Guided by Voices rather than the Hold Steady. However, since a GBV live show was always a legendary experience, I had a good time.

  13. Dave Curtis says:

    Frank, it’s an entirely reasonable conclusion to make. Sarah, as for the show’s energy, thankfully we had a rare showing of TO enthusiasm, so the crowd had it. It was the HS Crew, no doubt fatigued from Detroit et al, who were seeming tired. And thank goodness we cleared that up. "USA! USA!" did not escape from my lips mid encore. Or indeed at any point in the show.