For the second year in a row, The Hold Steady threw a positive jam, multi-day party at Brooklyn Bowl in their adopted hometown. The venue and band is a perfect match as the beer from the neighboring brewery fuels the huge singalongs and light-hearted pogoing. A chilly first of December continued the proceedings; the third of four shows on the run was sold out as the warm faces and fiery music lived up to the home stands title: Massive Nights.
Each concert showcased a unique opening act, on December 1st The Whigs graced the stage; it was the first time the band has played together in 2017. The power pop/punk trio delivered the goods with their direct set as guitarist Parker Gispert, drummer Julian Dorio and bassist Timothy Deaux effortless connected. Specifically, the low end of Dorio and Deaux worked well on “Like a Vibration” and “Production City”, grooving with synchronicity.
While the band cooked on their best song “Right Hand on My Heart” there was a clear faux pas by Gispert (who looked strikingly like Neil Young circa Tonight’s The Night) as he invited the crowd to his solo set down the block, which just happened to be during The Hold Steady’s upcoming set. Needless to say, no one left. The main event took the stage to cheers and dramatic flair, opening with “Banging Camp” before throwing it all the way back for “Barfruit Blues” which allowed one of the best bar bands to blast out their gin soaked rock and roll.
The pounding drum intro of “Party Pit” found Bobby Drake leading the charge while the dueling hat wearing guitarists Steve Selvidge and Tad Kubler pulled out all the riffs on the bombastic “Stevie Nix”, the swirling “Sweet Part of the City” and the fantastic B-side “Girls Like Status”. Two new offerings played to the theatrics of the group, as Franz Nicolay augmented “Entitlement Crew” and the slightly less successful “A Snake in the Shower”. Bassist Galen Polivka bumped up “Knuckles” while front man Craig Finn awkwardly bandied around the stage preaching to the choir on the vibrant “Chips Ahoy!” the restrained “Spinners” and the evening’s theme song “Massive Nights”.
The group is free from touring behind new albums; they can play any songs, any time they choose. The encore’s opening tenderness of “Citrus” juxtaposed beautifully with a blistering “Hornets! Hornets!” and the uprising steam of “Constructive Summer” The band closed the show with “Killer Parties” which almost killed us, but instead left the inebriated audience satisfied.
The Hold Steady’s joyous interactions and musical fluidity, combined with the releasing of new tunes, prove the band is still happy to be playing together and creatively viable. The lack of sustained touring makes these destination shows must see with the Brooklyn gathering now becoming an annual event; one the Unified Crew and extended family must be jammed into the pit to celebrate.