Live Last Night: The Hold Steady/Art Brut/1990s
My review of last night's Hold Steady gig at the sold-out 9:30 club? Right here. It was pretty much the same show as last year's - almost identical setlist, same speech at the end, my same complaints about singer Craig Finn missing the timing on some of his best lines - but I enjoyed it slightly more. Maybe I was just in a good mood thanks to Andray Blatche's breakout game for the Wizards, I don't know.
Two new songs played last night showed that the band doesn't plan on changing things up any time soon. "Stay Positive" was a riff showcase for guitarist Tad Kubler and it's as if Finn took all of his previously existing lyrics, put them in a hat, randomly pulled out phrases and created a new song out of it. "Ask Her for Adderall" brought another prescription pill into the Hold Steady universe; "Krazy for Klonopin" can't be far behind.
The one thing I feel very strongly about is that Finn should ditch his guitar and concentrate solely on vocal duties. Half the time he's simply wearing the guitar as an adornment anyway. When he's free to roam the stage and spit out his lyrics while his hands do whatever they do, everything clicks so much better. Anyone else agree with me on this point?
It's hard not to be won over by Art Brut's goofy enthusiasm and their catchy art-punk anthems. But the fact remains that you need to own exactly one of their albums (last year's "Bang Bang Rock and Roll") and you need to see them live exactly once. After that it's just overkill. Lead singer Eddie Argos is an entertaining fellow, even when you have no clue what he's saying (thick accent + muddy sound), and his mid-set pogoing from the stage to the back of the club was good for a laugh. He's clearly been going to the Bob Pollard School of Microphone Twirling and has been scoring solid Bs in his courses. The band had a video screen behind them that showed the song title and occasional quips. When Argos announced they would be playing "I Will Survive" the screen flashed "NOT A COVER." I half expected Argos to launch into The Word at some point.
Because of 1990s' (no The, please) Franz Ferdinand connections and their single "You're Supposed to Be My Friend" I was expecting a bit more dance-punk to their sound. But there was as much more T. Rex in the mix, and that was a good thing. The trio's sound was a bit thin at times, although that may have just been the result of playing in a very large, half-filled club. Plenty of songs about drugs and debauchery -- the theme for the night. Solid songs, solid performance.
And now instead of rambling on more, let's play a little game. It's inspired by my favorite local music blog DC Rock Club. Those dudes like to find celebrities that look like members of bands, so here's what I came up with for the singers of last night's three bands. I know the formatting is awful, but you get the point. It's a long holiday weekend, what do you want? Pictures after the jump.
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