Concert Review: The Hold Steady, Sept 28, Lee’s Palace


Toronto – Sunday night certainly did not have the best start for yours truly. First of all, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to their arch-rivals the Cincinnati Bengals, followed promptly by an email from my friend Ian (big Bengals fan) telling me to “suck it”. Then there was a keeper hockey fantasy league in which I could only participate in like 23/30 rounds due to time constraints. Anyone who knows anything about fantasy sports knows that the last rounds separate the winners and the losers, and not being able to participate in the last few rounds meant I had to leave it to the auto-pick gods. Not a good start.

Of course, the reason why I had to leave the draft early was because I was going to see The Hold Steady, the only Brooklyn band not comprising of skinny hipsters. They were playing the second night of a two night residence at a sold out Lees Palace in support of Stay Positive, their fourth full length album.

I’ll be the first to admit, I have only really skimmed through the Hold Steady discography in my days. I know about songs like Your Little Hoodrat Friend, Stuck in Stations, Sequestered in Memphis and Stay Positive but that’s about it. I know that they are pretty much a band that relied on heavily constructed lyrics layered over classic rock riffs. So I pretty much went in as a casual observer.

Imagine my surprise when the the band arrived at 10:20 and the lead singer looked like a cross between a high school math teacher and an owner of a New York bagel shop. I honestly had no idea what they looked like, but Craig Finn’s appearance was definitely not what I pictured from the band. Maybe I was expecting someone looking more like Springsteen. I’ll honestly say, I have rarely seen any lead show so much enthusiasm toward call and responses then Finn. He genuinely loves it when the crowd screams out lyrics or claps when he wants. It is quite endearing.

The concert was what I expected – classic rock riffs and Finn delivering his lyrics like a mad man. The songs itself sounded pretty good, and I really enjoyed Franz Nicolay on the keyboards. Not being a heavy Hold Steady listener, I really didn’t know what he was talking about since he was delivering at a wicked pace. I guess this is the point where a casual fan would be like ‘meh’ whereas big Hold Steady fans would be in heaven. I think it is this point that separates a Hold Steady concert for the casual fan versus a big fan. You really can’t tell what he is saying, so it’s harder to form some sort of bond with the band.

Anyways, the show was fairly solid – everyone was loving it, and they played the songs that I know. The Hold Steady come off as a really hard working and genuine band, something I can definitely appreciate.

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts

About Ricky

Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.

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