Damn. Just damn.
I probably never would have expanded my appreciation of the Hold Steady if I didn't have plans to go to this show. I always thought they had a couple good songs and a slightly jarring lead singer who prefers shout/talking the lyrics.
But I heard they were awesome live so I got tickets and spent a lot more time with their two albums which steadilly grew on me. The lyrics especially began jumping out as funny, weird, smart, and decidedly different from the standard ambiguous, heart-on-sleeve stuff. They're more like stories about really fucked up people with seriously unexpected geographic(Ybor city) and pop culture(Drop Dead Fred) references. They are songs about being young, high and American in very sketchy circles. While the self-destructive world he describes is one we have all encountered at some point and wisely backed away from, Frontman Craig Finn's characters star in it. Nose bleeds from sniffing Margarita mix. Coming into the E.R. drinking juice from a jam jar. Trying to buy drugs from Mackenzie Phillips. He consistently serves up imagery that you secretly wish you had the balls to be a part of.
Last night was a between-tours show in their local hood of Williamsburg(Greenpoint I guess). I have never in my life seen an indie crowd so into a show. It was a solid hour and a half of pogo-ing, capped off with "Killer Parties" as an encore that blew the doors off the Polish National Home. Their rep as a fun-as-hell bar band doesn't begin to describe how fun it is. Know the songs. Then see this band.
My only regret is not hiring them to play my wedding.