The Upstate Life
The Upstate Life

Wednesday, August 02, 2006
TUL's Take: The Hold Steady @ Valentine's

Last Saturday night was arguably one of the best shows The Upstate Life has ever attended in a very long time. The Hold Steady, a band I missed the chance to see when they came to the Black Cat a few months ago, rocked my socks off in, of all places, Albany, New York.

Valentine's was literally two blocks from TUL's friends' basement apartment, a place which housed quite possibly the smallest bedroom I've ever seen (they're moving to a bigger place this week, thankfully with A/C). If you've never been to Valentine's before, which I'll just straight out assume you haven't, the downstairs is a full bar with a wide variety of beers on tap. You can't beat a Stella Draft for $4. Upstairs was the performing area with a small bar in the corner with a fridge housing bottled and canned beers along with some rail drinks. We, as well as most of the patrons, went for the $2.50 PBR cans 'natch.

Reports (sorry, couldn't find a link) opened the show around 8:30pm. While their first song wasn't too my liking, the rest of the group's set wasn't too bad. If I could compare their sound, it would be a clash between Built to Spill and Wolf Parade I guess. By the time The Hold Steady made their way onstage around 9:30, there were no more than 200 people in a room that was perhaps a quarter of the size of the Black Cat mainstage. Seriously, the place was so intimate that you could maybe fit 10 rows of people from the stage to the back.

Craig Finn and Co. introduced themselves to the rabid crowd and we were underway for one of the hottest, sweatiest shows TUL has endured in quite awhile... and it was great. Of course I forgot my camera, but thankfully Flickr user crystal_cakes was able to provide some magnificent shots from the concert. The majority of the material performed was from their first two albums, Almost Killed Me and Separation Sunday, but they also introduced the crowd to some new songs from their forthcoming LP, Boys and Girls in America, which were, of course, very good.

When the band broke into "Stevie Nix", people started getting showered with beer from some dudes in the front row yet nobody seemed to mind since the show was honestly that amazing. It should also be noted that both PBR and Schaefer's were sold out at this point. The Hold Steady came back for not one, but two encores to an Albany crowd that was hungry for every single note they played. Not only were they passing around a bottle of Jim Bean during breaks, but guitarist Tad Kubler also decided to use a bottle of Budweiser as a guitar pick during one of their songs. The band was incredibly into it the entire night and it showed. Don't believe me? Here's further proof from the horse's mouth:

Shows so far have been great. Albany was off the chain. And the hottest show we'd played yet. The place was 109 degrees. And for some reason all the whiskey wasn't cooling me off.

After the show I was finally able to enjoy some real New York pizza which was conveniently located right next door the club. Between the slice consumed and the incredible show that preceded it, The Upstate Life was in complete ecstasy. Cannot wait to see these guys again this weekend.

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