Tag Archives: The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady, Art Brut and the 1990s – 11.20.07, The 9:30 Club, Washington DC and 11.21.07, Terminal Five, NYC

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The Hold Steady, Art Brut and the 1990s – 11.20.07, The 9:30 Club, Washington DC and 11.21.07, Terminal Five, NYC

The 1990s have just completed their set and thrown their set list (written on a paper plate) into the crowd of Washington DC’s The 9:30 Club. A group of three girls directly in front of me have caught the plate and are currently giggling over their newly acquired treasure.

I’m given cause to wonder if the girls are even there to see the 1990s but rather to see the better known acts Art Brut and/or The Hold Steady instead. It is certain that for most of the audience the latter is the case.

It is no matter because the 1990s are rock solid. Singer/guitarist Jackie McKeown even manages to recover from having his fly down for the entire first song. Where many of the 1990s songs on their debut album, Cookies, sounded poppy, in their live incarnations, the songs take on a grittier, garage-rock sound. Even weaker songs like “Weed” prove to be compelling when played live. McKeown’s solo style, the centerpiece in the live rendition of “Weed”, is organic and dirty, perfectly suited to the band’s music. Drummer Michael McGaughrin’s strained backing vocals add additional richness to the songs. Frequently running out of breath, McGaughrin jokes with the audience after most every song. At one point McKeown remarks that the band must truly be a mesmerizing live act to a man directly in front of him who is talking on his cell phone. McKeown asks the man who he is talking to, and he replies “Taylor”. McKeown is sure not to forget Taylor, and when the band plays “You’re Supposed To Be My Friend”, he cleverly makes allusion to the cell-phone conversation in the lyrics. The standout song of the night, though, is “Situation”, which the band introduces as their last number. Before starting the song, they modify the statement by adding that the crowd needn’t worry because the song is a long one. Played live, “Situation” evokes an underlying darkness only hinted at on the album.

Continue reading The Hold Steady, Art Brut and the 1990s – 11.20.07, The 9:30 Club, Washington DC and 11.21.07, Terminal Five, NYC

The Hold Steady – 8.9.07 Brooklyn, NY, Prospect Park

Hold Steady

The Hold Steady – 8.9.07 Brooklyn, NY, Prospect Park

In a recent interview Iggy Pop talked about the difference between playing music in 1965, as opposed to 2007.

“In 1965, when great young white artists in the English-speaking world were successfully re-channeling hillbilly and black music– you know Bob Dylan, Ray Davies, Pete Townsend, Keith Richards– they didn’t get any money at first. They were all broke. All those giant people had to stay around quite a while to cash in because the industry ripped them off more efficiently. The information wasn’t as widely available as it is now. Now, like I’m sure the Killers have a great record deal, and a lawyer to track their publishing and a guy to renegotiate their European cash flow streams and all that. It’s just different. I don’t know why.” – Iggy Pop

Certainly, the statement must hold true for some bands. However, contrary to Iggy’s statement, in the era of internet boom, surely just as many artists (if not more) are getting ripped off by charlatans, bandits and thieves in that ephemeral dream of making it, cashing in and getting paid to do what you love. And of the bands who are out there, you get the feeling that The Hold Steady have paid their dues.

When singer Craig Finn thanked the audience for the opportunity to play for them at the free show in Prospect Park, NY, on August 9, 2007, one was left with the profound sense that the man was truly humble. And what a show. Not only was the band incredibly tight, but there was that wild-alive electricity between the band and the audience you get 1 in every 10 shows. So if, like me, you came 3 years late to The Hold Steady, my advice is go out, buy all their albums now and catch them live.

Click here to see photos from the show.


Iggy Pop quote taken from Pitchforkmedia interview by Bret Gladstone. Click here to read the full article.