Thursday, November 11, 2010
"We only play three cities in California," announced Hold Steady singer/lyricist Craig Finn at their incredible show at 'Canes in early '07 (not the one with Art Brut) "and we found out that all the uptight people live in San Francisco, all the shallow people live in L.A. and that all the cool people live in San Diego." Of course, everybody went nuts because it's so true. The other great thing about the 'Canes show is that the band came on stage SMILING! Like they were glad to be there.
The Hold Steady, in my opinion, are the best bar band in America. They are a classic rock band in the mold of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band with some crunching Mott the Hoople power chords added. They've become even more of a guitar band with the recent departure of keyboard player Franz Nicolay and the addition of a second guitarist.
They are also known for Craig Finn's literary lyrics populated with recurring characters like Charlemagne, Gideon, Holly, and locations like Ybor City. These days they're everywhere. Craig Finn was on NPRs "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me," and Paul Shaffer's band on David Letterman frequently plays the intro to The Hold Steady's "Most People are DJs".
They started with the fabulous "Almost Killed Me" album in '05 and have released a good to great album almost every year since. They should have assimilated this year's "Heaven is Whenever" album into their live set by now.
I saw them earlier this year at a sold out Belly-Up show and they were great. The only complaint I have with them now is that they have so much good material you don't always get to hear all your favorites. I was forced to create a Hold Steady playlist for my iPod so I could hear all the good songs together.