“My new year’s resolution is to stop fake-playing guitar,” announced the Craig Finn, the Hold Steady’s frontman before a sold out crowd at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg Thursday night. The fact that Finn wears a guitar more than he plays it has long been a playful joke among devotees, so he put the ol’ axe aside after getting the evening started with the life-affirming “Positive Jam,” the first song off the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Minneapolis band’s first album.
“It’s 2014; let’s stop lying to each other,” he announced, hands free, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for a night of onstage beer swigs, hellos to old friends, and tributes to the bar rock gods.
Watch the Hold Steady play “Certain Songs” and “Stuck Between Stations” at the show:
The foremost occasion was the 10-year anniversary of the band’s debut album (2004’s speak-singing-rife barnburner “Almost Killed Me”) though as Finn, noted the band’s true birth certificate would indicate their true age was a bit older. Even if the celebration was a bit off-time, there was plenty more reason to get a gang of Brooklynites to pack a long-sold out hometown gig. Now with a new label (the Razor & Tie imprint Washington Square) the Hold Steady have a new album on the way and sampled four tracks from “Teeth Dreams,” due March 25.
The Hold Steady Announce New Label, Album, 10th Anniversary Shows
Aside from leaving longtime home Vagrant Records, the new LP is something of a continued reinvention of the quintet’s form, as they move on without pianist Franz Nicolay, whose keystrokes and backing vocals played an integral part in the band’s strongest records, through 2008’s “Stay Positive.” New cuts like “I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You” find the Hold Steady honing their craft as a pure guitar band and Finn still evolving as a frontman, now free to indulge in all the eccentric hand motions he wants.
Showing off their Brooklyn steez, Finn and friends played not one but two encores, finally closing with a pair of epic album closers (“South Town Girls” and “Killer Parties”) — a fitting power move from a band known for big endings. About to embark on a new album cycle for the first time in four years behind a new label, the Hold Steady know challenges lie ahead, though their reception last night proved they’ve gathered a devoted cheering section over the years.
Here’s the set list from the show:
I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You
Cattle and the Creeping Things
Multitude of Casualties
You Can Make Him Like You
Sequestered in Memphis
Stuck Between Stations
How a Resurrection Really Feels
Your Little Hoodrat Friend
South Town Girls