Live Review: The Hold Steady at Mezzanine
The Hold Steady are cast from the same mold as Black Lips, Of Montreal, and Wolf Parade; meaning that they are a “must see” live band. The guys bring a loose happy drunk sink-along vibe that is so much smarter than it should be. Maybe it’s the slick conversational/confessional narrative of lead vocalist Craig Finn, who has a real zeal for the darker side of life. He sings about downtrodden experiences in a sweet way, like the first time on heroin, and being drunker than safely possible. And maybe it’s because Tad Kubler is one of the best guitarists in the game today. Going to a Hold Steady show is a unique experience.
The songs from last year’s epic Boys and Girls in America inspired the crowd to belt out “South town girls won’t blow you away, but you know that they’ll stay” in unison. It was chill inducing. Eddie Murphy makes a joke about white people in Raw. He says “What are you white people dancing to? The lyrics?” And in the case of The Hold Steady it may be true. When Finn sings “she was a real good kisser, but she wasn’t all that strict of a Christian. She was a damn good dancer, but she wasn’t all that great of a girlfriend,” the crowd punches out the lyrics with their fists, and classic rock guitar work takes on a punk/strangely hip hop edge that is difficult to describe. “Chips Ahoy!” sounded great as well.
The band released Stay Positive last month, and the crowd hadn’t lived with the new album long enough to be as moved by it, besides “Sequestered in Memphis” which maybe has the most straightforward melody that the band has produced. “Constructive Summer” was fun as well. Finn admits “our songs are sing along songs.” “Killer Parties” was the closer and wrapped the show up in a less than tidy package “if she said we partied, than I’m pretty sure we partied. I remember we parted from our bodies. We woke up in New York City.” Beautiful debauchery.
- Review submitted by Jeff Bracco.