The Hold Steady @ Taste Of Randolph St. – Sun. June 21st 2009

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Originally uploaded by bronder

“There is so much joy in what we do up here,” stated Craig Finn as he prepared to turn the lights on for closing time at the Taste Of Randolph Street. It is a familiar spiel that he preaches to the Hold Steady masses, but truthfully Finn espouses happiness as he giddily sashays like an indie-rock Ed Grimley onstage.

The Hold Steady is a band that operates in the extremes of fandom. People either seem to love’em or hate’em. Needless to say love was in the air Sunday night when The Hold Steady kicked off their 100 minute set with a “Positive Jam.” Audience participation seldom seen outside of the hip-hop or stadium band communities seems to bubble up at their shows. Whether it was the manic soul clapping, the whoa-ho-hos during “Stay Positive” or the wo-ah-oh-ee-ah-oh-ee-ohs of “Chips Ahoy!” a party vibe was in the air.

When Finn introduced his bandmates mid-song he deemed it a true bar band move, a tag that has stuck to The Hold Steady from the start. Then during “Constructive Summer,” as Finn sang the lyric ‘Raise a toast to Saint Joe Strummer,’ beer cups rose with his goading “Get’em up!” Liquor is certainly a big part of the Hold Steady’s equation. One needs look no further than “Citrus” and its opening lines, ‘Hey citrus, hey liquor/I love it when you touch each other.’ The frontman also dispensed the timeless drinking wisdom to always stick to the same beverage for best results.

Later, on the ballad “Lord I’m Discouraged,” guitarist Tad Kubler flailed away on a double neck guitar.  Reveling in a solo of classic rock proportions, I geeked out to the point that I almost forgot where I was.

The night came to a conclusion with “Killer Parties” and the unmistakable throbbing bass line that carries the tune. Following many thank yous and snapping a photo of the jubilant crowd, Craig Finn held his beer aloft saluting the masses.

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