The Hold Steady With Oil Boom Granada Theater, Dallas Wednesday, April 30, 2014
As Craig Finn and his four bandmates in the Hold Steady walked out on the stage to the sounds of Lou Reed's "Real Good Time Together" Wednesday night, there was a change that rippled through the Granada. Finn, dressed in all black and holding a beer in his hand, had a big smile on his face that echoed the theme of the Reed tune. The audience roared, and from there, the New York quintet fired hard for 90 minutes.
Half of the band's latest record, Teeth Dreams, was represented, including the set opener, "I Hope This Whole Thing Didn't Frighten You." Some of the band's most popular favorites -- including "Constructive Summer," "Chips Ahoy!" and "Stuck Between Stations" -- got more attention towards the beginning of the set than they did later in the night. Compared to their show at the Granada back in 2010, this time out was less of a grab-bag of the band's entire back catalog, focusing more on the band's last three records. There was no "Stevie Nix," but there was "The Swish." There was no "You Can Make Him Like You," but there was "Hot Soft Light."
Finn, with his typical flailing of the arms, sang his tales of young love, loss, drugs, alcohol and American hardcore punk. Guitarists Tad Kubler and Steve Selvidge kept the amps cranked to 11, covering for the now-permanent absence of keyboards. (Someone still loves you, Franz Nicolay.) Drummer Bobby Drake clung to his rhythm section partner Galen Polivka like Krazy Glue, pumping along with his large drums and cymbals.
The band got through 22 tunes without many breaks, though Finn did share some funny quips here and there. One was about how Dallas stole his Minnesota North Stars hockey team and he's just coming to accept this. (Although c'mon Craig, the Wild are in the playoffs. It's okay to let it go.) And, during the extremely brief break between the main set and encore, Finn joked that he couldn't find the venue's backdoor exit, just like Spinal Tap.
Coming away from the show, the band didn't disappoint the longtime fan or the newcomer. Being one of the best and most reputable live rock bands around, the Hold Steady might never graduate beyond 1,500-person venues as a headliner, but that sure isn't stopping them from giving their audience all they have.
Side note: Original opener Deer Tick had to cancel due to a medical emergency, so Dallas's own Oil Boom stepped in on a day's notice. With the bills this trio has been on lately, it was easy to see why these guys are so heralded. Slinky blues with plenty of pop hooks, they charged through 13 tunes in under an hour.
Personal bias: I've seen the Hold Steady play to a near-sold out Granada. I've also seen Craig Finn play a solo show to a tiny audience at Dada. Both instances, Finn was the same go-getter, friendly dude. Remember this, young whippersnappers who want to play music for the rest of your lives.
The Hold Steady's Set List: "I Hope This Whole Thing Didn't Frighten You" "Constructive Summer" "Hot Soft Light" "Big Cig" "Sequestered in Memphis" "The Swish" "Rock Problems" "Magazines" "Almost Everything" "Chips Ahoy!" "Stuck Between Stations" "Multitude of Casualties" "Spinners" "The Ambassador" "The Weekenders" "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" "Southtown Girls" "Oaks" "Citrus" "Massive Nights" "Stay Positive" "Slapped Actress"