Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Holdin' Steady

The Hold Steady released what was possibly the best album last year, "Boys and Girls in America," their third strong record in three years. They were also responsible for two of the best shows I saw last year, one at Lollapalooza and the other at the Metro (the largest proper venue they'd played in Chicago to date, which they sold out). At the last minute they were added to the House of Blues on New Year's Eve, and the next night as well.

I didn't go out NYE, but since the band's so reliable I caught them last night. I had a hunch it might be the hoarse and hungover holiday special - the Hold Steady is a hard drinkin' band in the best of circumstances - but I was still surprised to hear singer Craig Finn, an essential part of the band's appeal, almost completely without voice. The rest of the band was pretty solid, but Finn? It was as if his mic had been all but shut off.

I had friends who left one or two songs in, not wanting to see one of the best live bands in the world play a sub-par show. But you know what? They were still pretty good, and Finn, despite his rasp of a barely audible shout, still gave it his all. That's rock and roll for you, and something the all ages crowd probably appreciated.

Besides, at this point I've become so spoiled, catching great or historic shows left and right. Off-nights, on the other hand, are remarkably rare no matter the performer, and in a weird way an enjoyable experience in their own right. So I wouldn't be surprised if, several years down the line, it's this messy, bad-sounding Hold Steady show I remember the best of the three times I saw them in 2006. Time will tell.


Blogger Jason said...

Glad to hear more confirmation that the sounds problems weren't just my overworked ears. You can check out my comments on the show at http://chicagorandomness.blogspot.com

3:08 PM  

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