Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me

I wonder how many blogs have started with that very same title. Who the hell has time for originality any more.

Last weekend Leslie and I traveled to Athens, Georgia to see The Hold Steady. We had never been to Athens before, and The Hold Steady was playing there on a Saturday, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go up there
for the weekend. They were performing at the 40 Watt Club, famously known for being the starting point for R.E.M.

Athens is pretty cool, but much smaller than I had anticipated. It's a college town, and being that the semester hasn't started yet, the town was relatively dead. There were a couple cool shops. There were not one, but two indie record shops, and there was a comic book store that looked like it had gone through an earthquake moments before we got there.

But if you're reading this post you probably don't really care about Athens, and you want me to get right to the good stuff: the show.

Leslie and I have been fans of The Hold Steady for a little while now. We missed two other opportunities to see them because they were in town when we weren't, so there was no way we were going to miss this show. This time they would not escape our grasp!

The show wasn't as packed as I feared it would be. the 40 Wat
t is probably the smallest venue I've been to in Georgia. It reminded me of the smaller clubs I went to in Connecticut. The opening act was The Loved Ones, who we had seen open for NOFX a few years back. They remain refreshingly mediocre.

The Hold Steady hit the stage and nary a hipster wasn't on their feet and ready for the performance of their lives. Lucky for all of us Craig Finn and co. didn't disappoint. It was the greatest shows I had seen in a while. They played a ton of my favorites and a few songs I had never heard before. It would be difficult for me to pick a highlight from the night. The setlist included Stuck Between Stations, Chips Ahoy!, Stay Positive, The Swish, and Ask Her for Aderall, just to name a few. There are some pretty great 'Woah's in Slapped Actress and the entire audience chimed in to sing along with the band. They played two encores!

You really get this feeling that The Hold Steady are in touch with their fans. They act like they're more of fans then musicians themselves. They knew what songs people would like to hear, and slipping three B-sides into the act certainly is a way to pander to the diehard fans in the crowd.

Leslie was kind enough to snag one of the posters off of the wall of the club for me. It was just a simple gig poster, the kind we saw hanging up all over the city and someone had Sharpied the date of the show at the blank space in the bottom. I proudly hung the poster in my cubicle in office as soon as I got to work on Monday morning.

It was a pretty awesome show. I give them my highest possible recommendation if they come to your town. and if they do, be sure to give me a call and see if I'm busy that night.

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