The Hold Steady: A Positive Rage

When a band sells out their esteemed hometown club, in this case, First Avenue in Minneapolis, it’s a sign that proclaims –“yeah, we made it.”  Such is the theme of the Hold Steady DVD/CD combo – A Positive Rage – where the crowds get bigger and the band is running fast on momentum.   Documenting the fall of 2006 when their Boys and Girls in America was hitting high on internet radio and the blogosphere, the Hold Steady would soon be trading in their van for a bus and going from basement venues to some of the country’s biggest rock clubs.

A good DVD makes you want to see a band live and A Positive Rage holds that charm.  The New York via Twin Cities quintet proves they are no trendy, hip wannabees,  just regular beer drinking guys with receding hairlines, glasses and  non rock star haircuts. And we get to see how much these guys really like to drink. (I don’t think bassist Galen Polivka was shown in the DVD without booze in his hand).
Sure, they are loud and their music isn’t technically intricate and lead singer Craig Finn even goes to describe his singing as “talking in amplified volume” but this is all good, it reveals the humbling aspect of the band.   They’ve also made it cool for indie rock to deliver piano,  big choruses and lyrical themes of adolescence and partying, although Finn’s lyrics always touch a deeper tone.   A Positive Rage shows that The Hold Steady truly do enjoy what they do and don’t take a second on stage for granted – because these mid 30 something guys all once had day jobs.

The live CD is a full live show recorded in Chicago at the Metro and holds 17 boisterous tracks showing why The Hold Steady are the arguably best bar band in America. Crunching guitar riffs, rolling organ fills and group sing alongs are all here – although not gentle on the ears, nobody said the Hold Steady’s live shows were a graceful thing.   And as we get to hear Finn say to his fans again, “I say the same thing every night , I’m not fooling anyone and I only say it cause its true…THERE IS SO MUCH JOY in what we do up here .” A Positive Rage accurately sums up what this band is all about – fun and unpretentious rock and roll.  

Stuck Between Stations – The Hold Steady

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