[Once again no photos due to restrictive camera policies!]
Given JV’s recent recommendation, I was a bit sad when I showed up and realized I’d missed all of Blitzentrapper; I came in opener-2nd band change over lull. I realized I hadn’t been to Slim’s in a long time. (According to my records it’s been almost two years.) It’s an odd venue: a big box with poles in odd places, including right at the stage (part of the band is to the right of the pole, part is to the left).
Off-putting things if you’re a relatively unknown opener or middle band:
- charging $10 for a 7 song EP
- charging $20 for a t shirt
- when people aren’t clapping enough for you, involking the name of the headliner e.g/“Come on San Francisco! The g*d-damn Hold Steady!@”
- doing the previous approximately ten times
- Name-dropping the headliner e.g. saying things like “This next song is [headliner’s guitarist’s] favorite song off of our record.”
Recommendation to openers and middle bands: play your music well, put a lot of energy into your show and leave it at that.
I took a moment between sets to check out the crowd. It seemed to be a significantly younger crowd than the last time I saw the Hold Steady, but there was still the older couple in dressy leather jackets, the older couple in ill-fitting t shirts and the older guy with tattoos and shirt with the sleeves ripped off. There were people who looked like they never went to concerts and others that looked like this was their third of the week. There was the girl who was probably from Minnesota and was wearing a Twins hat, but obviously doesn’t care about baseball, hadn’t worn that—or any—hat before. There were the pair of hight school/ early college girls who, once the music began, pogoed up and down and attempted to sing along to all of Craig Finn’s vocals (failing to do so, of course).
The Hold Steady (myspace), were, of course, the headliners. The band came out. Craig Finn, who sings/ talks, gesticulates and holds a guitar. Tad, the guitarist. The keyboardist with funny mustache, the younger bass player and the drummer guy. (I could look up their names, of course…)
Craig looked, and acted, drunk. He wasn’t stumbling around the stage, but let’s say he wasn’t walking around like a sober guy. He gesticulates wildly and mouths words off mic, reminding me of my friend John in 2nd grade who would mouth the words he just said right after he said them aloud, as if to double check what he said. Tad looks like a mid-30s father that happens to have tattoos and is able to play the big riffs on the guitar. They put a lot of energy into their shows and it was fun.
The mix was slightly better than the Great American show last year, but the vocals were still too quiet for a band whose lyrics are so important.
I thought a bit while they played. Boys and Girls in America is a pretty good album, but I’ve realized that Separation Sunday is an excellent album with a lot more depth. Tad says that the best way to experience the Hold Steady is live; I think I may experience them in future recorded and mostly just Separation Sunday.