The Upstate Life
The Upstate Life

Monday, December 18, 2006
TUL's Take: The Hold Steady at Valentines

Just less than five months ago, The Hold Steady played their first show at Valentines in Albany, New York to a urine-stenched, beer-soaked room of maybe 150 or so people. It was possibly one of the best shows we saw this year. The band returned to the Upstate NY venue last Thursday and it looks like it might have trumped their previous performance. After Scientific Maps and Catfish Haven kicked the Thursday evening off, The Hold Steady, a band who has been touring relentlessly since the release of their critically acclaimed Boys and Girls in America, took the stage to a highly enthusiastic audience clamoring for another memorable set. We were not disappointed.

The Hold Steady started the night off with "Stuck Between Stations", the opening track from their latest LP and, which in our eyes (or ears), is easily one of the finest songs from the album. One of the best things about seeing this band perform live is the amount of joy they exude while they're onstage. That feeling of ecstasy passes onto the audience which in essence makes the show that much better. The small (and somewhat drunken) crowd was clearly into the band's hour and a half set, but the $2.50 cans of PBR and Schaefer's were also a plus in TUL's book. Just like their last show at Valentines, the band closed the night out with "Killer Parties". This time, however, the audience was invited up onstage and we followed suit and somehow winded up literally next to Craig during the closing moments of the song. Mr. Finn then climbed the rafters with microphone in hand during the final verses which gave us an excellent photo op (see below). It was hands down the best finale by the group after the now three times we've seen them.

After the show ended, Craig was chilling downstairs by the bar and we decided to approach him and strike up a little conversation. The guy was so down to earth it's not even funny. I talked to him about how this was the second time I saw them in Albany and that I'm originally from the area but now live in down in DC and told him I missed the Black Cat date because I was home for Thanksgiving (which, by the way, he said was a great show). He then talked about how they'll be coming back down here for a show at the Ottobar in Baltimore around Feb/March and told me to make sure I have a designated driver for the 40 minute drive which was nice. After we exchanged pleasantries, he was like "Hey man, what's your name? I'm Craig, nice to meet you." So fucking cool. I've never really chatted to someone in a band before, but to have them be so outgoing and courteous caught me completely off-guard and made me realize how special this group really is.

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