Rock Steady... glaven.
A wall of vintage amps stacked six feet high, separated by a full-on rock kit complete with 40-inch gong; three Gibson solid-bodies, straps lowered, rock stance ready; stage devoid of glitz and glamor, only the band members and their instruments to focus on, and your focus is never tempted. The lead singer owns the stage and all eyes fixate on him as the guitarists blast a well-worn riff. And then Craig Finn sings... you might say that the Hold Steady frontman is a loquacious chap.
On their last EP, Heaven is Whenever, his lyrics clocked in at an average of 316 words per song. That's a total of over 3,100 words on the entire album, or about 2.5 times as many as the Declaration of Independence. And while his lyrical stylings may lack in melodic diversity, they are incredibly intelligent and have a wonderful poetic cadence. It doesn't take long to realize that these nerds really, really rock. Finn encourages crowd participation (and actually gets some at the usually stuffy 9:30 Club), jumps, jives, jimmies across the stage and between bandmates.
The band opened with Hornets and with little transition rattled off Hurricane J and Cattle. It was a great mix of old and new material pretty much all night. Crowd favorites were definitely the bands "hits", including Stations, Ahoy, and First Night. The four-song encore included Constructive Summer, Soft Light, Sequestered, and Stay Positive... need I say more? The band was fairly tight throughout the night, with only a few gaffs in a couple of the harmonies and one or two muffed solos. You can read the scorecard for some more detailed info, particularly about the oppressively crowded conditions. (pssst, 9:30 Club, everyone is noticing how its more crowded now than it used to be... check yourself.)