The Hold Steady are not just any band and you probably wouldn’t believe me when I say that watching them is like watching a gigantic rock concert in a medium sized club and you have front row seats no matter what. Without a single doubt in my mind, I believe this incredible band could easily perform at the Taco Bell Arena and still rock the stage as perfectly and professionally as they did last night.
When Kayla Dean, one of our new photographers, and I arrived at the show, it did not seem like a big turn out at all. In fact, I was surprised to see many people giving away their tickets because they didn’t know the two bands, but after experiencing what I did in that club last night, it’s their loss…and they lost quite a lot.
The show began with Michigan noise pop band Cheap Girls. The best way I can describe this band is like this: they have these very sweet 80’s-esque notes in their songs which is where the pop part comes in, but then there’s that sort of sloppy, noisy Dinosaur Jr. sound incorporated likewise. The whole thing is then topped off with vocals that I can only compare to one band: The Minutemen’s song ‘This Ain’t No Picnic’. Yeah, it’s a surprising mix, but it works!
After they played, I was able to meet the band out on the smoking patio and found out how incredibly nice and sweet they truly were. They were by far the perfect match for The Hold Steady on this tour and they made sure to announce publicly many times throughout the night that they felt the same which is really all that matters.
After a pretty large intermission between the two bands and a hefty amount of friendly chatter on the patio with both fans as well as Cheap Girls, the sound of guitars being tuned and drums being tested emanated from inside. Kayla and I made our way inside once again to find the stage nearly set up and the group of people slightly larger from when we had first arrived.
Finally, The Hold Steady made their way onto the stage and the crowd went wild. After all, how could you not with such a killer band? After seeing the band’s video from their performance in Brooklyn, I didn’t know what to expect live. I hoped it was similar to the video but never once did I think it would be exactly the same kind of energy and presence at The Knit as it was there. Let’s just say I was wrong.
The band jumped about the stage as lead singer Craig Finn made funny and exciting stage movements that lock your eyes on the band without fail. With a bit of spunk and humor, his hand motions and facial expressions remind me of such singers as Elvis Costello and Jello Biafra (both being mega compliments in my book).
The band’s overall sound is hard to directly pinpoint. It’s sort of like a mixture of Bad Religion and The Wallflowers, but then at other times it sounds more like Elvis Costello or even many old punk bands I love dearly (Lords of The New Church, 20/20, Minutemen, etc.). As each song ended, I felt myself wishing this show could last all night long and dreading the moment they would leave the stage.
When the band played my new favorite song by them, ‘I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You’, I couldn’t help but run to the front and sing along hoping he’d see me and know he had a few crazy fans in the crowd! Sure, it’s a silly thing to do, but some bands are just that great.
As the band finally ended their set after multiple funny stories of 120 cigarettes and rock and roll’s true intentions, the crowd went wild and the charismatic group left the stage. It was a great end to a great night and there was only one thing on my mind as I left The Knit and got in my car: When’s their next tour and where can I get a ticket??
Make sure to check out the band’s absolutely astounding new album Teeth Dreams and purchase a copy today! As for the band themselves: when they come into Boise again, you better have a ticket! Trust me, it is worth every last penny and then some, I should know! \
Photography by Kayla Dean