Midvale School for the Gifted Alumni Association

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Bad Case of Noisemaker Blues

There may be a time here and there when I will recycle a previously written story for the day's soundtrack. I had a Facebook message from one of the guys in the following story, so today's track is on repeat ;)

First, major shout out to my new pals, Sam and Matt, who took pity on the "old lady"(my term, not theirs, they rocked it hard) in the line for the free Hold Steady show on Thursday night, and reminded her first why front row jammed against the stage is awesome, but also why she was never really a "pit girl".

So, yes, let's talk about what I just said there--free Hold Steady show. At the Paradise in Boston, my favorite Boston club ever. I can't remember where I saw the advertisement for this first; I just knew I had to jump on it. I've talked about this band before. Still linking to the new album stream (which sounded unbelievable live, but I'll get to that in a second). So, I RSVP'd immediately, and planned to be in line at the Paradise by 6:00 to ensure entry, banking on the indie kids not being able to get organized that quickly. Again, apologies to my buddies from the line; that statement is in no way a reflection on you, as you were there right behind me and the 30 or so other people who had queued up by 6:00. I even got a good parking space on the street.

The mood in the, at that point, short, line was electric. Originally, I had thought I'd sit there with my iPod and people watch, but I was too excited to be in place to get into this show. So, when Matt and Sam got in line right after me, we struck up a conversation, which continued into the front room of the club, where they let us wait due to fears of rain. Oh, and to the guy who drove up from New York, and bought all that beer and disappeared? You should have bought bottles and keg cups; it would have been much easier to smuggle in. We left it in good hands, though. Now, I'm not entirely sure why Matt and Sam and I hit it off so well--could have been the ridiculous list of shows I can rattle off, the band names we all dropped trying to prove our cred, or the fact that I get bouncy when I get excited about something (literally and figuratively). Whatever. We had a great time. Sam even waited while the door man sorted out where my email confirmation was, and let me in. Sam also convinced me that front row, rather than my standard spot in the balcony, was the way to go for this gig. Forgetting what I observed at the last Hold Steady show I went to, I went along with my new pals.

Opening band Aberdeen City were pretty good. The lead singer certainly was rocking the Ian Curtis/Interpol look, and the sound was very dirgey, leaden bass, with somewhat jangly melodies, and a drum sound that almost knocked me into the back bar--outstanding, really. But as good as they were, nothing really compared to Finn and the boys. They took the stage, and after ripping through the opening number, "Constructive Summer", Craig let on that he'd been to many shows there during his, and my, BC days (yet ANOTHER spot I probably ran into him in my youth, we are ships in the night, Mr. Finn), he'd always wanted to play there, and this was their first time. And slammed through "The Swish". The set list was nicely populated with old and new. Aside from the previously mentioned, "The Swish", "Stevie Nix", "Knuckles", and "Don't Let Me Explode" were songs I wanted to hear, and were pure power. However, it was about halfway through, "Yeah Sapphire" that I realized I could no longer ride that wave.

Jammed up against the stage worked really well for Aberdeen City. Good band, nice groove, no elbows in my glasses. But, the Hold Steady were an entirely different energy, egged on by Finn's frenetic sputtering and jumping and gesticulating. This is by no means a BAD thing; however, it's been many years since I've had to hold a position in a pit. The sway and crush began two notes into the first song; by the fourth, I was ready to break all pit etiquette and smash the face of this one drunk girl who was trying to get in front of me. However, having been to approximately 487 live shows at the Paradise over my lifetime, I knew that all I had to do was get back 5 feet to the center pillar, where I could lean, be close enough to grab some great shots and feel the energy, but not break anything valuable. Like my nose, or a toe, or something. After nearly getting trampled in the pit at a Ramones show, I know my pit limits, and I bailed. Five feet backward, though, I had the pillar for support, and I proceeded to rock out. Besides, next to the pillar, I got to do this.

As much as the old favorites were crowd pleasers (as it is with all bands), the new material really shone last night. A little less druggy and bloody, but as romantic and wild as any other of their albums. And by romantic, I mean grand sweeping tales with high drama, and higher kids, Don Quixote stabbing at windmills romance. Dreaming the impossible dream of one last great party. Thursday night was a great party. They closed the regular set with "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" and "Slapped Actress", from the new album, and I thought I would explode. Because The Hold Steady, for me, are everything good about the music I love--all of it, in all its schizophrenic glory--rolled into one loud, growling poetic package. And when you get a band that understands BOTH the power of the 70s stadium anthem AND the 80s all-ages hardcore matinee, and channels them into the perfect bar band rocker, how can you NOT just combust from sheer joy?

Sam and Matt found me at the end, glad I was just chilling in the back. We parted ways, (Sam, you have this address), drunk from the rush, at least I was. I'm still drunk from it, and I feel my Hold Steady evangelism rising again. It's going to be a great summer.

And it was a great summer, and Matt and I have been to shows together since that night. This is one of my favorite stories.

Southtown Girls - The Hold Steady

MP3 File

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Midvale School For the Gifted

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    "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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