The Hold Steady @ Turner Hall Ballroom
April 11, 2008
While many of their indie-rock contemporaries remain mired in gloom and doom, The Hold Steady demonstrated with a sold-out Turner Hall Ballroom that there is still a place for fun in rock ’n’ roll. In fact, it appears as if the band’s genuine warmth and love of music has helped to grow an even larger audience. No longer just a secret among in-the-know hipsters, the group attracted a remarkably diverse crowd. And those in attendance saw a band at the height of its collective power.
In a live setting, it becomes clear just how indebted vocalist Craig Finn is to the world of hip-hop, as his sing-speak style becomes even more rap-like on stage. Finn improvised, experimented with timing and vocally reworked the band’s entire back catalog, giving many of the songs a feeling of freshness and vitality. Yet lead guitarist Tad Kubler made sure everything maintained a sense of cohesion. Kubler, who is quietly becoming one of the better guitarists in rock ’n’ roll, played with a sense of controlled exuberance, as his lead work in such songs as “Banging Camp” and “Same Kooks” showcased a level of creativity and skill that is often absent in indie rock.
of these elements came together in a rousing version of “Stevie Nix.” Finn’s
vocals skittered all over the place while the band locked in to a tight,
rollicking groove. As Finn sung about his rather ill-informed decision to move