Last night, we hopped in the car around 8 p.m. in Omaha, picked up Matt Whipkey and a friend in Lincoln around 9 p.m. and made it to the Bourbon Theatre shortly afterward.
We were there to see the Hold Steady. They’ve become a favorite band of mine and Whipkey’s a big fan, too. When we got there, a Chicago-based group called Company of Thieves was onstage.
Their lead singer was spastic and wild, but had some soul in her voice. She was easily the best part of the band, which was a bit too loud at times and a little too soft at others.
The Hold Steady dropped on the stage like a ton of bricks. With very little fanfare beyond the “taking the stage” music, they blasted into “Sweet Part of the City” and then “You Can Make Him Like You.”
The band’s first time in Lincoln, they didn’t stop to do or say anything through the first several songs.
Frontman Craig Finn is easily my favorite part of seeing the band. The crowd wasn’t giving him a lot of energy (don’t know if it was the people or how unnecessarily large that room is), but he had a near-permanent smile on his face while he bounced around and did his half-singing/half-talking thing into the mic.
A lot of Finn’s between-song banter is well-rehearsed, but to me, it’s still enjoyable.
“Alright Lincoln. Back in my slothful teenage years, my dad gave me some advice. He was trying to get me off the couch and stop smoking so much weed. It was a motivational thing and he said, ‘Craig, guys go for looks. Girls go for status.’”
Next up was – big surprise – “Girls Like Status.”
Anyway, it continued that way the rest of the night. The set leaned heavier toward the newish, including all the best stuff from “Heaven Is Whenever” and “Stay Positive.”
A couple of sodas through the show, Whipkey and I ran into each other outside of the bathroom and talked about how much we liked the set.
Somewhere in all the philosophical positing about why they’re good, he called them “dude rock.”
Spot on assessment.
It’s something about the band that makes we want to throw back a couple more PBRs than I should, throw my fists up in the air and holler all the words I know (and some I don’t) back at the band.
Not a lot of groups do that to me any more. But the Hold Steady still does. Every time.
Maybe it’s Finn’s boyish enthusiasm despite the lackluster response from the crowd or the fact that he’s nearly 40 and still rocking it. Maybe it’s all the lyrics about drinking and having a good time. Maybe it’s that I can sympathize with some of the band’s rock ‘n roll problems.
But there is something about being a dude that just makes me like the Hold Steady. And I’m alright with that.