Tonight, the iconic Irving Plaza in New York, but on Saturday evening, The Hold Steady performed in front of a BINGO board and a half-dozen American flags at the Hamden Masonic Lodge.
With a couple hundred or so exuberant, sweaty, all-age fans in attendance, the quintet tore through a 17-song set heavy on the killer tunes off "Boys And Girls In America," the band's third record that will be released Tuesday. But the album's lack of availability didn't mean the entire audience wasn't singing along to each and every song, jumping up and down and fist-pumping the air.
Without a stage, lighting or roadies, The Hold Steady seemed to have a blast kicking off its long North American tour in a venue unlike anything it will see at any subsequent stop. Singer/guitarist Craig Finn barely touched his guitar and flubbed a lyric or two, but nobody cared. And how could they when the frontman rambled like a mad man around the "stage" area, slapping hands with fans and screaming his lungs out on crowd favorites like "Stevie Nix" and opener "Stuck Between Stations"?
After closing the show with a raucous rendition of "Southtown Girls," the band returned for an encore of "First Night" and "Massive Nights," the first of those tunes being the only rough spot of the evening, with the acoustic guitar tones from Tad Kubler's electric guitar sounding like static.
But after the two new songs, the crowd refused to do its part and leave, coaxing the quintet out for another encore by chanting for "Killer Parties" over and over again for at least four or five minutes.
And the guys did more than just that crowd favorite, opening the unplanned second encore with "Positive Jam," a rocker that equally excited fans. It was the end of a night that all in attendance won't soon forget. With "Boys And Girls" hitting stores Tuesday and an amazing amount of press recently, The Hold Steady is about to arrive, and there just won't be any more opportunities to see the band in a tiny lodge.
Set list: "Stuck Between Stations" / "The Swish" / "Party Pit" / "You Can Make Him Like You" / "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" / "Hot Soft Light" / "Same Kooks" / "Don't Let Me Explode" / "Stevie Nix" / "Chips Ahoy!" / "Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night" / "Southtown Girls"
Encore 1: "First Night" / "Massive Nights" / "How a Resurrection Really Feels"
Encore 2: "Positive Jam" / "Killer Parties"