CONCERT: The Hold Steady: June 27th, Ram’s Head Live!, Baltimore, MD

Sorry, no pictures from the show, I left my camera in the car.

hold steady

If I had to pick one word to describe the Minneapolis, MN quintet’s live show it would have to be ‘fun’.  Front man Craig Finn is just trying to have a ‘Killer Party’ and its an open house.  Finn makes up for the fact that he never plays the guitar hanging around his neck by making comical gestures that go along with his stream of consciousness lyrics.  He looks so happy on stage, its hard to have a bad time watching him.  He smiles with every word he sings, or speaks, and is constantly dancing and yelling out words within the songs to the crowd after each line.  There is definitely a sense that the songs mean the world to him, and he is never afraid to thank the crowd.  Every member is into it, especially keyboardist/pianist extraordinaire, Franz Nicolay, who seems to be Finn’s sidekick and even prop at points in the show (Finn says a line about a guy with a shaved head and gestures to Franz), not to mention the fact that his moustache is exquisite.  If there’s anything bad to say about their shows, its that the songs are all pretty similar sounding and tend to get repetitive after a certain point.  The performance got a little slow towards the middle, but they were able to pick it up again for the four song encore. 

Despite the good show, I really have problems with this venue, but the problems are nitpciky and slightly unreasonable.  The place is one of the nicest clubs I have ever been to, but therein lies my complaint.  There is something that detracts from a band’s performance at a small venue, when the place is nice.  It’s like you are seeing a band perform in a convention room at a hotel or something.  The walls are all clean, the bars have LCD screens above them, there’s a bathroom clerk with perfumes and colognes.  For a band described as ‘the world’s best bar band’ it is hard to see them perform in such a nice setting.  I prefer a functional dump for a venue, but that may be just me. 

As far as the music goes, it was all spot on.  As they broke into “Constructive Summer” to start it all off, they were very well received.  The crowd was into almost every song, and favorites such as “Killer Parties,” “Chips Ahoy,” and the new single “Sequestered in Memphis” were sung by everybody in the room. 

A Hold Steady show is definitely an experience, but don’t expect the show of a lifetime, just a whole lot of fun. 


About Drew Litowitz

Sound advice.
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1 Response to CONCERT: The Hold Steady: June 27th, Ram’s Head Live!, Baltimore, MD

  1. WEB SHERIFF says:

    Protecting Your Rights on the Internet
    Tel 44-(0)208-323 8013
    Fax 44-(0)208 323 8080

    Hi Drew,

    On behalf of Rough Trade / Beggars Digital, Vagrant and The Hold Steady, many thanks for plugging “Stay Positive” (street date 14th July and advance, digital release date 9th June) … .. thanks, also, on behalf of the label and the band for not posting any pirate links to unreleased (studio) material and, if your readers want good quality, non-pirated, preview tracks, “Sequestered in Memphis” is available for fans and bloggers to stream / link to / post etc on the band’s MySpace … .. check-out and for details on “Stay Positive” and the band’s 2008 shows … .. for a limited period a play-through of “Stay Positive” shall also be available on the band’s MySpace and on NME (, although these are for promotional purposes only and the artist and labels have kindly asked fans and bloggers not to host or link to pirate copies of the full album on-line – for which many thanks in advance.

    Thanks again for your plug.



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