The Hold Steady live in New York
- Sep 27, 2011
The Hold Steady and their hometown crowd colonised foreign territory on a recent Saturday night. Think Occupy Wall Street, except successful.
Scruffy, plaid-clad, 30-something men played for more of the same on Pier 17 of the South Street Seaport. The Beekman Beer Garden - or “douchebag central” if you ask the internet - boasts an impressive trifecta of white vinyl couches, $8 beers and Porta-Potties. Luckily, it’s also next-door neighbours with the Brooklyn Bridge. Anywhere that feels like partying inside the 'Empire State of Mind' video may be absolved of all sins. Especially if most of those sins would rather grind out an all-nighter at Goldman-Sachs than see a Hold Steady show. Even a free Hold Steady show.
The band played as if to give the audience their money’s worth. The audience drank the money they saved on tickets, and then some. Vocalist Craig Finn led the evening’s festivities: there’s no such thing as ‘too drunk’ when the guy onstage is acting out every lyric to 'Slapped Actress'.
Finn’s band mates largely let the front man have the floor, saving their energies for a handful of solos. Lead guitarist Tad Kubler, armed with a doubleneck Gibson, gave 'South Town Girls' an epic, arena-filling opening riff. In fact, as Kubler’s channeled the Boss, I had a genre epiphany: there’s pint glass music, like the Hold Steady, and there’s beer can music, like Springsteen. When an audience holding pint glasses starts rocking out to beer can jams, things get sloppy.
Fortunately for whoever cleans the Beekman floors, the Hold Steady’s subsequent attempt at beer can music was unsuccessful. During the encore, Finn led a cover of AC/DC’s 'Ride On' - a song that is just not up to the band’s lyrical standards. This misstep, however, did nothing to mar the overall triumph of the show. There, nearly tucked beneath the illuminated Brooklyn Bridge, the Hold Steady held a hometown coup. Even a Wall Streeter would have enjoyed himself.