On September 15, 2000 a 29 year old man named Craig Finn from Minneapolis moved to New York City. Finn took a job in an office and after three years was bored of everyday mundane office life; he called a few friends and started a band. That band would get together on Tuesday nights, have a few beers, jam and wanted to become the best bar band in the city. That band would be The Hold Steady. After a few gigs, the band developed a buzz and started touring and releasing records, now a few years later the band is on album number five, Heaven is Whenever, which was released this past Spring. The Hold Steady has gone on from playing small Brooklyn dive bars to Manhattan clubs to various venues around the world to opening to everyone from The Rolling Stones to Dave Mathews Band. Last night their hard work and road dog ethic built to the bands biggest and most prestigious gigs ever – a sold out show at Beacon Theater.
Arriving on stage, the six members walked on to a thunderous applause, Craig Finn would grab the mic and say “Hi! We are The Hold Steady, we are a rock and roll band,” within seconds they would bust into “Constructive Summer” a tour de force anthem that had the band shooting out of cannon. From one foot stomping anthem to another, they would go right into “Massive Nights,” “Hurricane J,” “Sequestered in Memphis,” “The Swish” and so on. Everyone in the room would forgo the fact that it was a Thursday and had work the next morning, they wanted to party and The Hold Steady made sure they partied. I have seen this band numberous times before and keep falling more and more in love with them after each gig. They play their hearts out as if each gig is going to be their last. This six piece line-up debuted in the spring after long time keyboardist Franz Nicolay had left the band last fall, I saw the new line-up in April at Bowery Ballroom and felt it was a different Hold Steady experience I was normally accustomed to, in the past it was Finn and Nicolay feeding off each other and jumping around on stage, while Nicolay would back Finn on vocals, that was absent in April. Last night it was back to brass tactics and just as thunderous as when Nicolay was with the band. Guitarist Tab Kubler is one of the most underrated guitarists in the business right now and the most underrated guitarist of a generation, his ability to shred like Slash and get as bluesy as Jeff Beck, Kubler is a sight to be seen and heard. The Beacon maybe a seated venue, but you would not know as everyone was on their feet and singing their hearts out along with Finn, it even got to a point where some fans began crowd surfing, this prestigious venue turned into one of the clubs and dives that made The Hold Steady so popular. After a near two hour set, with a three song encore that included “Hornets, Hornets,” “Stuck Between Stations,” and the epic show closer “Killer Parties,” The Hold Steady retreated to the wings of the stage as heroes and left the crowd begging for more. This band has come along way from the dives of Brooklyn and the Beacon is now just a stepping stone as to where they are going from here.