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