Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Kids at the Shows? They'll Have Kids of Their Own.

The first time I saw the Hold Steady in concert, I was convinced that Craig Finn just didn't get it. Look at that guy. He's better suited to be doing people's taxes than to be in a band, much less fronting one.

To make things worse, he's not particularly cool at all on stage. I feel like he's got the rock star cliché of being drunk on stage down, but other than that, he barely plays his instrument, he can't really sing, he continuously sprays spit all over the place (which I suppose is expected, but somehow it seems more constant with Craig), and he's one of the worst dancers I've ever seen. He spends most of his time on stage singing his lines, and then making funny faces at the crowd. By most accounts, this guy is a loser.

In addition, their keyboardist, as my friend Jim pointed out, "looks like he just escaped from an insane asylum," or, like someone from vaudeville in the 1920s with that mustache:

And somehow, it works for them. Unbelievably well. The guys (I guess, minus Craig) are all really musically tight, but they're really just out there (cringe for another upcoming cliché) having a good, drunken time, and the crowd's right there with them.

This won't quite encompass the experience, but have a video from a different night:

Unironic songs about partying, but with a smart sense of humor, and a shocking amount of depth (seriously, Craig like made this whole universe of characters, and he's still referring to them four albums deep).

This is a band that people love. Obviously, that doesn't make them unique or anything, but what I was most impressed with was the fact that the crowd seemed to know every word to songs that are pretty difficult to memorize, and not even just choruses and "woahs" (seriously, tons of "woahs").

So, maybe Craig doesn't get it. Or, maybe it's me. Regardless, the Hold Steady are a great band with an even better stage presence, and I highly recommend seeing them if you get a chance.

In an unrelated story, it'd be wonderful if the St. Vincent album would leak. Just saying. Random, but I've had "Paris Is Burning"
stuck in my head all day.

"You're pretty good with words, but words won't save your life... and they didn't, so he died." - Thanks, Craig.


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