19 Essential Hold Steady B-Sides (Stereogum)
One of the first things we hear Craig Finn snarl on his band's 2004 debut album is a simple declaration of intent: "We gotta start it off with a positive jam!" This — and Finn's decade-by-decade American history barrage that precedes it — is where the legend of the Hold Steady, America's premier bookish, beerish, don't-call-them-a-bar-band bar band, begins. Both positivity and jamming have remained the Hold Steady’s mission statement for nearly 15 years. In that time, they’ve lived a dozen lives across six albums, hundreds of whiskey-drenched shows, and minor lineup retooling. Now, the band’s enjoying a career high point, reunited with beloved mustachioed piano man Franz Nicolay (who rejoined in 2016 after six years away) and playing multi-night blowout shows whenever they want, freed from the burdens of album-cycle touring. There's also their newest music, three excellent pairs of standalone tracks that began dropping in late 2017. Long before the horn-drenched glory of last month’s

will always stan THS

Some highlights from the show:

  • Some Deer Tick fans popped up in front of us at the beginning of their set, affectionately referred to as Tick Heads. I have never seen someone’s mind constantly exploding from that close for that amount of time. They clearly could not contain their enthusiasm, and were escorted away before the end of the set.
  • The Vogue does not know how to make a Tom Collins (maybe just the one bartender). We stuck with whiskey coke after that, considering the band:
  • Craig Finn almost looks out of place at first but makes it clear that he is having just as much fun as you are, which makes the whole show pretty refreshing. Read more about it here (about halfway in, just past the part about bookshelves).
  • Hold Steady fans are generally unthreatening. Lots of plaid button-ups and thick-rimmed glasses. There were some d-bags in the front that were watching ESPN on their phone, literally less than 10 feet from the mics. Disappointing, but they weren’t jumping around and throwing elbows and screaming, so whatever.