Friday, January 19, 2007

How a rock n' roll show really feels

I'm taking advantage of CrimeNotes' sleepiness to write our blog's review of Thursday night's The Hold Steady concert. No, seriously. I'll keep it well under 3,000 words. If I leave out something my co-blogger considers important, well, that's his problem for choosing to dream about ... whatever it is he dreams about. One assume's it's a letter from Michiko Kakutani thanking him for being the only one who understands what it's like to be her. (Enclosure: a photo of her ta-tas.)

So anyway, the concert. And the part I'll remember the rest of my life: I was on stage at the end of the concert. No shit. I was on the fucking stage. With a couple dozen other people. It was amazing. That's one more thing I can cross off my list of "stupid shit to do before I turn 30 and it becomes borderline juvenile." I was on the stage at the end of a rock and/or roll show. During the last song of the second and final encore (right after the much-requested "Knuckles") Craig Finn invited people in front to join him on stage. I pushed CrimeNotes forward and said "Dude, you have to do that?" He (being over 30) demurred. So I tucked the T-shirt I'd bought for Effervescent Shorty (at the request of her fiancee, Crunk Raconteur) into my back pocket, and told CrimeNotes to hold my coat. Then I clambered gracelessly onto the stage, where I could "Woooo!" my heart out as Finn declared that we all were, in fact, The Hold Steady.

It's tough to beat that, but as as for the rest of the show. The venue was Northsix in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It was tiny, intimate and absolutely awesome. There were maybe 400 other people in the place. I can't think of a better place to see this band than some bar off I-94 between Madison, Wis., and St. Paul, Minn. And speaking of Williamsburg, I just have to mention that yes, on the walk back from the show, I actually saw someone wearing a Pabst Blue Ribbon trucker hat. I assume it was meta irony, because otherwise, that's just a bit too on the nose, isn't it?

But enough with that shit _ the show was at a tiny, 400-person venue. CrimeNotes and I were probably 25 feet or so from the stage, if that. The show was pretty much incredible start to finish. They started with a Positive Jam, and then like 10 minutes later, they were already leaving the stage before their first encore. Actually, it was well over an hour, more lik 70-80 minutes, but it felt like no time at all had gone by. The songs that stood out to me afterward were a particularly blistering version of "Chips Ahoy!" which included the entire crowd singing backing vocals, and an excellent "Stuck Between Stations." I think the second song was "The Swish" and yes, I recall bellowing out the line about skirts, tights, and shaking it up in Shaker Heights. In fact, I probably screamed half the lyrics to all the songs along with the band. Actually, half is a conservative estimate. I can't recall a recent show I've gone more bonkers for. I can't recall a show I've gone more bonkers for even in high school or college, actually.

But I'll refrain from further giddy babble. The only point left I want to make is this: I've always understood on some level why CrimeNotes sways back and forth during The Hold Steady concerts as if he's listening to some charismatic preacher, but now I get it completely.

And after tonight's show, I'm going to have to go read Molly Bloom's encounter with Leopold to cool myself off.

1 comment:

CrimeNotes said...

My List of Highlights: Knuckles; How a Resurrection Really Feels; Stevie Nix; the traditional Killer Parties climax. Liked it when people started taking the stage and Craig handed his guitar to a guy from the audience who stood there frozen, looking goofy and mystified.

On the other hand, because about 40 percent of the audience seemed to be comprised of sceney twats, there was less of the Midwestern-expat communal feeling than in the last couple shows, where I generally felt like hugging strangers.