Midvale School for the Gifted Alumni Association

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rock and Roll Means Well

And it rocked well last night, for certain. The phrase "tore the roof off" has become a little tired in the rock descriptor category, but I can't think of a better way to sum up what I witnessed last night. One of the most truly astounding double bills I've ever been privileged to attend.

We'll start with the Drive-by Truckers, a band I had heard precious little OF, but lots and lots ABOUT, and it was generally positive. So, I went to Newbury Comics and bought their most recent album, and spent most of Sunday listening to it. Good stuff. Very much in the alt-country genre, twangy and hard rocking, multiple vocalists. They took the stage first, and promptly laid into a honey of a southern rock set that warmed the crowd up well. I half expected to hear Sweet Home Alabama, and I would have been psyched. Plus, I always love watching a band that looks like they're having the time of their life up on stage, because that energy bleeds into the crowd. Tad Kubler came out and joined them for a few songs, and they left us primed.

In between the two bands, I managed to have a conversation with two men who I went to high school with, and two random men who had moved up into my section, which, despite my original seat being the third row, right of the stage, was surprisingly empty. The Drive-by Truckers fans that had occupied the front row, emptied into the seats ahead of me when the Hold Steady took the stage, and my new, yet nameless friends, slid into the front row. Looking back, seeing my camera, they waved me in next to them, and I proceeded to watch the rest of the show from Craig Finn's feet. I get that whole Beatlemania thing, I'm telling you.

The Hold Steady ripped into "Stay Positive", and never let up. Even the slower songs, like "Lord I'm Discouraged", and "Killer Parties" became swirling, staduim-worthy anthems. I had originally been concerned about the Hold Steady's ability to work a room as large as the Orpheum's stage, but I needn't have bothered. Finn took the stage in as Freddy Mercury a fashion as possible, and threw open his arms as if to say, "Welcome my lovelies. Watch as I blow your collective minds." And he went into his twitching gospel preacher spitting of the lyrics and stage antics, and the room closed in around him, and we sat in the palms of their hands the rest of the night. Or, maybe that was just my perspective from my position worshipping at his feet. Although my friend who was seated farther back in the auditorium had a similar reaction, and was totally ecstatic that I made my way front and center.

They tore through their set like their punk roots would demand they tear. It was electric. I felt like I was experiencing rock again for the first time, and it was almost spiritual. At one point, I turned all the way around, and saw the crowd as the band saw us, and chills went down my spine. I wanted to explode and wash over everyone and absorb every last atom of raw power in that room. Never mind that the set was a fantastic blend of all four albums, including a three song encore with most of the Drive-by Truckers, which (since the DBT's have a female bassist/vocalist) also included a song they'd never been able to play live yet, due to the female vocal line. My anonymous front row friends and I had lots to say about that, and the creedo of "Positive Jam" that worked its way in mid-set. I'm ranking this night in my top 5 concert nights EVER. How can you possibly beat a new discovery along with old favorites at the peak of their game? You just can't.

Rock and roll means well, my friends. Last night, the Hold Steady proved it.

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Midvale School For the Gifted

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    Location: Norwood, MA, United States

    "So I walk like I'm on a mission, 'cuz that's the way I groove. I've got more and more to do, I've got less and less to prove. It took me too long to realize that I don't take good pictures 'cuz I have the kind of beauty that moves..." Ani D.
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