08/06 The Hold Steady @ The Parish

In front of a sell out crowd at The Parish on Wednesday night, Brooklyn’s finest The Hold Steady set off some M80’s with their raucous set-opener “Constructive Summer.” “We’re gonna build something this summer,” declared frontman Craig Finn as the “party pit” stumbled their way to the front of the stage. Touring in support of Stay Positive, the gang was sharper than keyboardist Franz Nicolay’s on-stage attire and brought a steady flow of beer-drinking, pot-smoking, Max Weinberg-lovin’, ass-shaking rock ‘n’ roll. This was my third time seeing The Hold Steady and by far, their best show in Austin yet. A lot had to do with the Parish’s flawless acoustics and the band’s diverse choice of songs for the evening (review and set list after the jump).

They stuck to their guns with a healthy portion from their latest offering, Boys and Girls in America, and Separation Sunday. Adding to a nightly dosage of Twin-City kisses and toasts to St. Joe Strummer, they knew exactly when to kick out the positive jams (“Hot Soft Light” “Chips Ahoy!”) and urge you to bust out your lighters (“Lord I’m Discouraged”). Tad Kubler’s 34-minute guitar solo during “Lord…” brought tears to the nappy-haired sad sap standing next to me. It eerily reminded me of that part in Guns ‘N’ Roses’ video for “November Rain” where Slash played the 1st guitar solo (not the 2nd) outside the church, except minus top-hat, black leather pants and boa constrictor of course. The talk of the evening was whether or not Kubler was going to resort to his talk-box solo during “Joke About Jamaica.” Unfortunately, Tad succumbed to his wah-wah pedal instead and made one die-hard fan so f***ing hostile he threw a cup of water at Craig-O! “We were kids in the crowd, now we’re dogs in this war,” a soaked Finn barked as legions of teenagers and 30-somethings pumped their fists. Highlights included the boisterous sing-a-long-friendly title track from Stay Positive and 2nd encore closer “Killer Parties.” “Killer parties almost killed me,” Finn wearily exclaimed. And it couldn’t have been more fitting on an evening where one of America’ s hardest working and consistently great live bands threw a “party” for the ages and all ages for that matter.

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