The Story So Far (57 and Counting)
I was asked to recall some of my favorite memories of The Hold Steady shows that I’ve been to, and instead of selecting just a few, I decided to write a little about all of them. Here it goes:
1. October 26, 2006 - Metro - Chicago, Illinois
Filmed the Chicago scenes of “A Positive Rage”. You can see me in two brief clips. Completely dumbfounded by what I was seeing. Hooked from the opening notes of “Stuck Between Stations”.
2. January 1, 2007 - House of Blues - Chicago, Illinois
Day after a New Years Eve show. As my friend put it, “they drank until they played better.”
3. May 17, 2007 - Miramar Theatre - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Met Tad and Franz for the first time. That was cool.
4. August 4, 2007 - Lollapalooza (Grant Park) - Chicago, Illinois
One of my all time favorites. A blistering fifteen-song set. I waited six hours at the front of the stage for this one with my friends. We made the back page of the local paper because of our rocking out the next day.
5. October 30, 2007 - Metro - Chicago, Illinois
First of two nights at the Metro with Art Brut. Eddie Argos fell over the monitor he was sitting on and my friend caught him in his arms mid song. . Really, this show more or less felt like a warm up…
6. October 31, 2007 - Metro - Chicago, Illinois (“A Positive Rage” Recording)
…For this one. Ridiculous. Band came dressed out as banderos, complete with fake mustaches (except for Franz, obviously). I just remember that room was electric that night. Pretty sure I heard “Citrus” for the first time here.
7. April 11, 2008 - Turner Hall Ballroom - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Kind of a shitshow. Lots of drunken assholes, and Craig left the stage toward the end of “Killer Parties” after almost getting pegged in the head with a beer can, which left Tad, Galen and Franz to do the “If she said we partied…” line together. Also, some dude tried to jump on stage, and was promptly thrown off by McQ. Luckily, Steve Barone was there to capture this moment on film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65m274bviU4
8. June 27, 2008 - Ram’s Head Live! - Baltimore, Maryland
My first out-of-town road trip. Met a huge portion of the east coast scenesters, so that was really fun. After the show, saw some dude try to steal a lady’s purse and get taken down by an off-duty cop. Walking around Baltimore at night was scary. Got locked out of the parking garage where my friend’s car was at. Hard Corey was nice enough to let us crash with her for a couple hours until we could get it out at dawn.
9. June 29, 2008 - McCarren Park Pool - Brooklyn, New York
Ridiculous on every level. This was a free show in an abandoned pool turned sometimes venue (that eventually became a pool again). Part of a three song bill with J. Roddy Walston and the Business and The Loved Ones - it absolutely POURED during the first two bands, but then the sun came out with a vengeance during The Hold Steady’s set. Matt Jones, Emily, Katieee and Heidi, part of Bible Salesman and myself made it in the following photo for this New Yorker article: http://nymag.com/arts/popmusic/features/48531/index1.html. I’m the guy with my Unified Scene shirt tied around the front of my neck. Also, Matt hurt his finger really bad and something happened where his pants were so wet, he cut the bottoms of his pajama pants off and turned them into shorts for the bus ride home. Got to talk to Craig for the first time, and also met Rob Sheffield who was right next to him.
10. July 19, 2008 - Pitchfork Music Festival - Chicago, Illinois
I think I waited in the neighborhood of ten hours at the front of the stage for this one, and definitely was one of the first people at gates for Pitchfork that day. Saw sets by the late Jay Reatard, Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend and finally, THS. Lots of confetti was thrown. THS came back for an encore it was so well received, finishing with a brilliant version of “Killer Parties”.
11. July 21, 2008 - Majestic Theatre - Madison, Wisconsin
Second show of a four day string. Met some longtime friends at this show, spoke with Dave Hause and was even introduced to Galen’s mom.
12. July 22, 2008 - First Avenue - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Holy moly. This one was nuts. As the screen rose, “Let”s Go Crazy” by Prince started playing, as evidenced by this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EnRVVJK2Dk. The stage crush was insane. I remember Steve Barone accidentally knocking off Craig’s glasses towards the end of the show and the venue passing out Fla-Vor-Ice popsicles for us who were extremely dehydrated in the first few front rows.
13. July 23, 2008 - Fargo Theatre - Fargo, North Dakota
Middle of nowhere. Weird venue with seats and this pocket that opened up in the front where you could stand. Directly in front of the stage, however, there was an organ. Franz rose from the floor to play “Both Crosses”. It was awesome. Also, first time I ever heard “The Ballad of the Midnight Hauler”. Blistering.
14. November 13, 2008 - Bluebird Nightclub - Bloomington, Indiana
First show I picked up on the “Rock and Roll Means Well” tour. We drove five hours and THS played first. I remember hardly eating or drinking anything before the show and therefore I was completely gassed halfway through the first song.
15. November 14, 2008 - Riviera Theatre - Chicago, Illinois
Another favorite. At that point, this was the biggest place I’d seen them play in Chicago outside of a festival setting. I don’t like the Riv much, but that night it was pretty magical. I remember all members of both the Drive-By Truckers and The Hold Steady on stage for a few songs, including “Let There Be Rock”. Awesome. Just awesome.
16. November 15, 2008 - First Avenue - Minneapolis, Minnesota
I remember this one was cold. And that we went to Pizza Luce in Minneapolis afterwards. THS opened that night and covered “History Lesson, Part II” by the Minutemen. I took a video of it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLsIKSKEnYY
17. November 16, 2008 - First Avenue - Minneapolis, Minnesota
This one I liked more than the night before it, but I don’t remember exactly why. We got “DJ’s” and a “Lookout Cleveland” cover. Those were awesome.
18. January 15, 2009 - House of Blues - Chicago, Illinois
Fully prepared to wait several hours outside in sub-zero temperatures, but that ended up not being the case. They let us hang out inside. In my scene report from the show, I noted this: “CF had not one, but TWO bras thrown at him, one Starter sweatband, and a couple of beer cans. Dusty was prompt with cleanup.” Tom Morello opened for the band. This was a show for the Chicago Cubs Charity.
19. March 29, 2009 - Recher Theatre - Towson, Maryland
This kicked off a string of seven shows in ten days. I remember this was a free one sponsored by Jack Daniels. It also was the first show of the videoblog series I did in 2010-2011 with a string of shows. Those are still on YouTube.
I met Jersey Mike in person for the first time at this one. I miss him.
20. March 30, 2009 - The Fillmore at Irving Plaza - New York City, New York
I believe someone from Make-A-Wish, or a similar organization wrote the setlist to this one. It was a fun one. Fun fact: It’s also the least amount of time I’ve ever waited outside in line at a Hold Steady show.
21. March 31, 2009 - Valentine’s - Albany, New York
Extraordinarily low ceiling, really low capacity venue. Super intimate. “Milkcrate Mosh”, people.
22. April 1, 2009 - Tralf - Buffalo, New York
This one was inside of a mall. Buffalo was completely desolate. Raucous version of “Hot Fries”.
23. April 3, 2009 - Illini Courtyard Cafe - Urbana-Champaign, Illinois
Well, this was just stupid. For some reason the school decided to hold the show in the Student Union cafeteria, which was not at all suited for a rock show of this caliber. The only barricades they had were the retractable ones you’d see at movie theaters or something of the like. Also, a good portion of the underage audience was already VERY drunk by the time they got to the dry show. As soon as the band kicked into “Constructive Summer”, everyone barreled forward, leaving everyone to hang on for their lives. I spent most of this show holding on to a monitor. Some girl was so drunk that she passed out headfirst into Franz’s keyboard, breaking the stand (he didn’t miss a note) and severing the connection to Craig’s monitor midway through “Stations”. Dusty McGyvered the thing back together in five minutes. Everyone was pretty bruised by the end of this one.
24. April 4, 2009 - Jake’s Nightclub & Bar - Bloomington, Indiana
“Two Handed Handshake”. Come on! Also, a couple cool shout outs here. “Milkcrate Mosh”, too. This placed turned into a dance club IMMEDIATELY after the show. It was super weird exiting the venue. The scene ended up at a place called “Waffle House”, that was NOT A WAFFLE HOUSE. One of the menu items was “Fried Mush”.
25. April 7, 2009 - The Picador - Iowa City, Iowa
This place was super small. but holy crap, what a setlist. “Knuckles”, “Citrus” and “Midnight Hauler” for the second time. My notes tell me that there was an awesome “Killer Parties” speech. It really was.
26. June 8, 2009 - Bowery Ballroom - New York City, New York
Four nights in two venues in New York. LilHan comes to America. The show STARTED with “Killer Parties”, as everyone came on stage one at a time, starting with Bobby on drums. The confetti was thrown REAL early that night.
27. June 9, 2009 - Bowery Ballroom - New York City, New York
All of “Separation Sunday” (albeit out of order), beginning with “Crucifixion Cruise”.
28. June 10, 2009 - Music Hall of Williamsburg - Brooklyn, New York
Everything pales in comparison to the “Rosalita” moment. If you have not seen it yet, you really owe it to yourself.
Here’s the story: The show ends as “Thunder Road” plays over the venue’s PA. There’s about 150-200 fans sticking around, belting out the song, and then it segues right into a live version of “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”. At that point, a spontaneous dance party breaks out lasting the entire length of the song. The band came out to watch us, and after it was all over, came down to shake hands. Magical.
29. June 11, 2009 - Music Hall of Williamsburg - Brooklyn, New York
Craig publicly apologized for spitting on us.
30. June 21, 2009 - Taste of Randolph Street - Chicago, Illinois
This was a cool one, and Tad did a guitar spin, which at that time it was sort of rare. Started with a “Positive Jam” that night.
31. July 10, 2009 - Majestic Theatre - Madison, Wisconsin
Wasn’t particularly feeling this one for some reason. I remember “Girls Like Status”, though.
32. July 11, 2009 - Basilica Block Party - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Huge outdoor show with a gorgeous Basilica backdrop. The crowd was sort of aggressive and it made it a little less fun than I’d hoped. By the end of that summer, the sheer volume of shows in a short amount of time was starting to cause a little burnout, I think.
33. September 26, 2009 - Lee’s Palace - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
First time in Toronto, and that was exciting. “Barfruit Blues” that night, as well as an early version of “A Slight Discomfort”. “Goin’ on a Hike”, too!
34. September 27, 2009 - Lee’s Palace - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I liked this one more than the previous night. Waited out in the rain for a while in this one, chatted up a nice dude about Springsteen, and he recommended me the 1978 Winterland show. “Sweet Payne”, an early version of “Our Whole Lives”, and “G’s Conversion”, which I think is “Gideon’s Conversion”.
35. October 17, 2009 - The Lion’s Pause Main Stage, St. Olaf College - Northfield, Minnesota
I’ve never seen so much security for a college show. Last show I saw with Franz in the band. Two Cow Garage opened and they RULED. Got “We Can Get Together”, you know, before it was a thing.
36. April 13, 2010 - Beachland Ballroom - Cleveland, Ohio
First with the six-piece lineup including Steve and Dan. Hands down the most violent THS show I’d ever been to.
A pack of hooligans were at the show celebrating their friend’s 21st birthday, and they were on a whole new level of drunkeness. They tried to push and shove their way to the front, injure limbs, scratch and claw their way up. Some people got ejected. Ironically, Craig stopped the show during “Barely Breathing” to ask “Is it really worth it?” No one wins at violent shows.
37. April 14, 2010 - Diesel Club Lounge - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Weirdest club ever. It looked like something out of someone’s 80’s dance club porn fantasy. Weird blue lighting. I’ll never forget the look on Whiskey Daisy’s face when they played “Arms and Hearts” in HER city. It was the first time she’d heard it live, after years of hoping. Really happy moment.
38. April 15, 2010 - 123 Pleasant St. - Morgantown, West Virginia
I liked this one a lot because the venue was so small that the band had to essentially come through the crowd to get on stage. Really intimate vibe. “Criminal Fingers” was played here about three years before it’s actual release.
39. April 16, 2010 - The Abbey Bar - Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
In my near- seven-year history following this band, this probably was one of the highest points of Unified Scene history.
This one was Jersey Mike’s baby. All of it, down to the hotels we stayed at, were all perfectly coordinated by that dude. (Upon check-in, we were given ‘Steadhead” pamphlets) So many out of towners came in. I don’t know how to put this into words, but everyone involved kind of left that one feeling changed, I think. It was really, supremely wonderful. Every song just hit right. There were confetti cannons, oh yes, but they didn’t go off. It didn’t matter.
40. April 17, 2010 - Bowery Ballroom - New York City, New York
Record Store Day, which meant the early release of “Heaven is Whenever” to coincide with it’s release, the band played two shows in one night in two boroughs. To date, it’s the only time I’ve left a Hold Steady show early (before the encore.)
We ran outside the venue, jammed a bunch of us in a cab and then…
41. April 17, 2010 - Music Hall of Williamsburg - Brooklyn, New York
…Arrived in Brooklyn for the second show, and managed to still get front row, just as we were at the other show. Galen would remark about this briefly in a series of videos the band did for Heineken that are available on YouTube. They had special lighting for the cameras that were placed at arm level on the stage, which made it impossible to rest them on stage without burning yourself. That was rough. All in all, a good time! This was the conclusion of a six show in five day stretch. I got home and I couldn’t hear. Turns out I had a really nasty ear infection that had went without treatment for some time. Fun fun.
42. July 1, 2010 - Summerfest - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The next series of four shows were my final hurrah in the midwest before I moved to New York on July 6, 2010. An outdoor festival show, I waited eleven hours in front of the stage for this one, enduring one crappy band after another. It was cool, I had buddies with me. I have never waited that long to see them anywhere, and don’t think I can ever do something of that magnitude again. Really, no one in their right mind should.
43. July 2, 2010 - LCO Casino, Lodge & Convention Center - Hayward, Wisconsin
This takes the cake for the weirdest place I’ve ever seen them play. I remember the bathrooms there had receptacles for hypodermic needles for those who need to take their Insulin while gambling. Some 8-year-old kid made his way to the front row with a wooden guitar, mimicking Craig the whole set. It was awesome.
44. July 3, 2010 - Cabooze Main Stage - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Another outdoor show. Blisteringly hot, but got really nice as it progressed into the evening hours. Pretty much a “greatest hits” set, with “Sweet Payne” coming in the encore.
45. July 4, 2010 - First Avenue - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Fourth of July, and this was broadcast on the radio in Minnesota. They passed out American flags for us to wave. I remember the encore of Positive Jam - Weekenders - DJ’s - Killer Parties’ being otherworldly. I haven’t been back to the Twin Cities since.
46. October 1, 2010 - Vic Theatre - Chicago, Illinois
Started out with a super atmospheric “Both Crosses”. Spooky, too. I had a great time at this one. Relentless energy throughout.
47. October 4, 2010 - 9:30 Club - Washington, DC
First show of a four shows I did out east that I traveled entirely by Megabus. Cost me $23 for the whole thing. It was really cool to get to see them at this venue. Just a totally great place to catch a show in general. “Ascension Blues” is notable from this one.
48. October 5, 2010 - Trocadero Theatre - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Some dude tried to get up on stage during this one and got taken down HARD by the crew. Like he could have been injured. First time I officially heard “The Smidge” live.
49. October 6, 2010 - Royale Boston - Boston, Massachusetts
Rainy and cold that day. Crowd was kind of aggressive. Still pretty good.
50. October 7, 2010 - Beacon Theatre - New York City, New York
Besides show number one (which I was second row), this was the only show I have not been front row for. I had seats in row 12, but as the lights went down, I found an open spot in row 3 and stood there the whole show. It was such a great night for the band - to be playing a place that big and have all those people sing those words out loud. Felt really good.
51. October 8, 2010 - Apple Store SoHo - New York City, New York
Special acoustic set that became, well, “Live at SoHo”. This show was especially personal for me, as I worked at that store at the time. Had a hard time explaining to co-workers that this isn’t usually the kind of show they did. Galen’s mom and sister were in the row behind me.
52. October 24, 2010 - The Met - Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Pawtucket was a ghost town. This place was cool. The Figgs opened and tore the house down. “Separate Vacations” this night.
53. January 30, 2011 - Music Hall of Williamsburg - Brooklyn, New York
Debut of the five piece lineup after Dan left the group. Lots of adjustment at first to have the songs without piano. Still rocked. Spent that night at the hospital with my friend who fell ill during the show. No bueno. She was good to go the next day, though.
54. January 31, 2011 - Music Hall of Williamsburg - Brooklyn, New York
Another fun one. “Adderall” kicked off the set. “DJ’s” closed it out in the encore.
55. April 8, 2011 - Terminal 5 - New York City, New York
Word going around for this one is that it was going to be the last one for a while, and it kind of felt like it. It was sort of a bittersweet night. Ended with a perfect “Killer Parties”, of course. They wouldn’t play another show until August (ironically, in Chicago) and I wouldn’t see them for another one year, two months and nine days.
56. June 17, 2012 - Taste of Randolph Street - Chicago, Illinois
Just very happy to be seeing them again. Met some nice folks, hung with old friends, heard “Teeth Dreams” and “Wait Awhile”.
57. September 28, 2012 - Live on King Street - Madison, Wisconsin
Another nice outdoor show outside the Majestic in Madison. “Teeth Dreams” and “Wait Awhile” were the new jams again of this evening.
That brings us up to date. I hope they add more dates out here in 2013. I’ve keep the streak alive of seeing them in every year since 2006. Thanks for reading, if you kept with it!