It was back to basics for Brooklyn's finest in Brooklyn's finest. The Hold Steady returned to the stage that has become their home through the years, in their backyard at Music Hall of Williamsburg. The last time anyone from the boroughs and surrounding areas saw the band was at the upper west side venue, the iconic Beacon Theater. The seated venue was a different structure than what fans were used to, but it was still one hell of a show! Now, as the band is set to embark on a European tour, they warmed up and threw themselves a nice going away party - a sold out two night event at the popular club.
Taking the stage just after 10pm, singer Craig Finn got on stage and looked so excited as usual as the rest of the band was just ready to do work. Opening with the bombastic "Ask Her for Aderall," The Hold Steady would crash into a blitzkrieg set that would take them from one foot stomping, fan screaming, drunk slurring anthem to another. The bands songs seemed to be faster and shorter, Finn was not talking to audience the way he normally does. It some something different and very fast, where we seeing The Ramones? Or this generations incarnation of the legendary punks? After all, we have called The Hold Steady the best rock and roll band to come from the city that never sleeps since The Ramones. What it was, was that someone was missing, brand new keyboardist, Dan Neustadt, who replaced longtime keyboardist and backing vocalist Franz Nicolay was not on stage. Since these were warm up shows, perhaps they are not taking Dan across the pond with them. Who knows, but one thing was for sure, he was not missed. The band just ran through their catalogue as if it was the last time they were playing Brooklyn.
After being on stage for nearly an hour and 15 minutes in a set that included "Cattle and the Creeping Things," "Constructive Summer," "Stuck Between Stations," "Chips Ahoy," and "Sweet Part of the City," the boys retreated into the wings for a brief second to collect themselves. Coming back on stage, Finn would explain how it was eight years to the day that the first Hold Steady show took place and it was indeed at Music Hall of Williamsburg, as the band was amping themselves up to go away and tour, they were also celebrating nearly a decade of pure, fantastic rock and roll. Heaven knows where the next eight or ten years will take the band, all we can hope for is that they keep making the music they love and have it become the music we love.