TVD Live: The Hold Steady at 9:30 Club, 9/1

“This tour started with a date in Minneapolis, and on that date I turned forty years old,” said Craig Finn, lead singer and guitarist of The Hold Steady. “And I can’t believe that at forty years old, I get to have this job, the best job I have ever had.”

It would be hard to disagree with Finn on that point as he giddily bopped around stage, sweating and happily singing songs he has easily sung hundreds of times before. The number might possibly be even thousands for those songs off of their early albums like Separation Sunday and Almost Killed Me, which were released in 2004 and 2005 respectively and include some of their most well-known songs, such as “Barfruit Blues” and “Killer Parties.”

Until this show, I had never seen The Hold Steady perform live, but I have listened to their live album A Positive Rage an unhealthy number of times, so I couldn’t quite believe my ears when they opened the set with “Stuck Between Stations,” the same way the album begins. The start of the song sent a jolt through the sold-out crowd at the 9:30 Club, and we all started to sing along to this classic Hold Steady tune.

But the funny thing about Hold Steady lyrics is that they are more like stories told to your buddies over beers than they are repetitive choruses and refrains. For example, one of my favorite songs of theirs, “Sequestered in Memphis,” begins with “It started when we were dancing/ It got heavy when we got to the bathroom/ We didn’t go back to her place/ We went to some place where she cat-sits/ She said, “I know I look tired/ But every thing’s fried here in Memphis.”

Such specific descriptions aren’t typically what you would find in bar band lyrics, as they would initially seem too word-y and specific, but for Finn and his cohorts it somehow works well. Fans mouthing lyrics along with Finn (myself included) started to turn to those around us and shout the words like we were telling a story of our own, regaling in the details and cheers-ing with our six-dollar Yuenglings.

After over an hour of performing the band wrapped up their set with a four song encore, and were joined on-stage by The Donkeys, the show’s energetic opening act from San Diego. It was The Donkeys’ last night on tour with The Hold Steady, and comraderie overflowed from the now very crowded stage; a few members of The Donkeys even embarked in a bit of stage-diving into the elated audience as we belted out the words to “Stay Positive.”

And positive is exactly how The Hold Steady made this crowd feel at the end of their set. Sometimes, at the end of August, the best way to feel like you have had a “Constructive Summer” is to pack yourself into a sweaty club, drink some beers and sing along to some of your favorite rock songs with your friends.

Photo Credit: Amy Willard

This entry was posted in TVD Washington, DC. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text
  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text