Live: The Hold Steady Bro Down At Bowery Ballroom


The Hold Steady
Bowery Ballroom
Saturday, April 17

And what better song to kick off the first of two special Record Store Day gigs than the one that ignites on the words “We put it all down on technology and lost everything we invested”?

The Hold Steady start it with a positive jam, as per usual, offering the same infectious, defiant, classic-rock-for-clever-kids nostalgia that RSD itself is gunning for, blazing through 20 songs in just over an hour, only a handful hailing from the upcoming Heaven Is Whenever and fitting in just fine, thanks: “Rock Problems” in particular, a couple monster riffs joyously jammed together, is a killer, guitarist Tad Kubler shredding Thin Lizzy twin-tower style with one of the new guys.

Ah, about that. The new guys (“That’s Steve, and that’s Dan,” announces frontman Craig Finn, nonchalantly) are excellent, holding down keyboards and second guitar (third, technically, but no one holding a guitar actually plays guitar less often than Craig Finn), respectively. The loss of Franz Nicolay is mostly felt visually: You miss him up there, bouncing around to “Cattle and the Creeping Things” or “Same Kooks” or what have you. But only a little. The piano-driven “You Can Make Him Like You” is still their finest moment, anthemic and sentimental in equal measure, though it’s the tunes with crowd-supplied WHOAs — “Stay Positive,” “Massive Nights,” Chips Ahoy!” — that get the predominantly male crowd really riled up.

Otherwise, we got a few vintage Finn one-liners (“This is for anyone who wakes up and says, ‘Man, I’m not old. I’m old school”) and a preview of the new lyrics we’ll all be writing in our yearbooks in a couple weeks. (Personal favorite: “She said the theme of this party is the Industrial Age/You came in dressed like a train wreck.”) And then they packed up, sauntered over to the Music Hall of Williamsburg, and did it all again an hour later.

(Oh yeah, and NYC Taper’s got this show for you right here.)