Show Review + Photos + Setlist: The Hold Steady at the Gargoyle, April 6
|The Hold Steady|
But if shows at the Gargoyle are usually endured rather than enjoyed, the Hold Steady tipped the balance, however slightly, with last night's show. The quintet played an unassailable set list, full of favorites from its four-album catalogue as well as a handful of rarities and b-sides (only "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" was missing, but you can't win 'em all). But the 90-minute set didn't quite create the sense of community and rock & roll salvation that much of the crowd was hoping for.
|Although the Gargoyle is a dry venue, many had Coke bottles in hand.|
Singer Craig Finn is as good of a front man as you could ask for, and it has little to do with his speak-singing style of delivery. In concert, Finn creates an alternate dialogue within the song, first singing the lyric into the microphone, then stalking the stage and repeating the line, off-mic, to the first few rows. To see him perform is to realize the love Finn has for these songs and his own ego-less amusement at his creation. It's like he has to fill up all possible space with words, even during the instrumental parts of his songs.
|Craig Finn of the Hold Steady|
|Seven guitars and one bass, backstage.|
|The Hold Steady setlist.|
The proper set ended with the bookends to 2005's epic Separation Sunday, "Hornets! Hornets!" and "How a Resurrection Really Feels." The three-song encore kicked off with "Stuck Between Stations," perhaps the best model of what the Hold Steady is capable of: drama, depth and emotion sandwiched between unfaltering rock licks and impassioned performance. The night ended with "Slapped Actress," a song about the artifice of rock & roll entertainment and the struggle to make something real, lasting and vital. And even if last night's show didn't quite meet those standards, you can't argue that these songs set their sights on something bigger and more grand, and more often than not, the Hold Steady hits those heights.
|The sold-out Gargoyle.|
*Kubler later donned a double-neck guitar for "How a Resurrection Really Feels."
*Finn, a noted baseball fanatic, only made passing reference to opening day, giving a shout-out to his Minnesota Twins before launching into the Minneapolis-specific "Hornets! Hornets!"
*Openers The War on Drugs played a great, fuzzy set of noise and drone that reminded me alternately of mid-'90s Yo La Tengo and a psychedelic Waterboys.
The Hold Steady's setlist from last night's Gargoyle show.
1. "Massive Nights"
2. "Constructive Summer"
3. "Hot Soft Lights"
4. "Yeah Sapphire"
5. "Navy Sheets"
6. "Chips Ahoy"
7. "Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night"
9. "One for the Cutters"
10. "You Gotta Dance With Who You Came to the Dance With"
11. "Sequestered in Memphis"
12. "The Swish"
13. "Party Pit"
14. "Modesto is not That Sweet"
15. "Same Kooks"
16. "Stevie Nix"
17. "Ask Her for Adderall"
18. "Lord I'm Discouraged"
19. "Hornets! Hornets!"
20. "How a Resurrection Really Feels"
21. "Stuck Between Stations"
22. "Stay Positive"
23. "Slapped Actress"