Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Zombie On Halloween, Without The Costume

I was having such a great night Monday, right up until I got in my car, turned it on and saw the time was 1 a.m., and I was in Cambridge, Mass.

And that's not even getting into having a two-hour drive in front of me with my friend, Jay, having more gas in him than my little Civic.

But let's get away from this too-much-fiber stuff and talk about the music. If I can wake up and type something ...

I am not sure if I have ever seen the first and last show of a tour before checking out The Hold Steady last night. The band capped off the first leg of its "Boys And Girls In America" trip at The Middle East, after opening it last month in Hamden. These were two far different shows, but both equally brilliant.

Here in the Nutmeg State, the guys performed at a venue where alcohol wasn't available, and it was still three days before their brilliant record would hit streets. The set was incredibly tight and chock-full of songs. Last night, I saw the sloppiest set I've seen from a professional band in my life.

Singer Craig Finn fell over at least once, and most of the remaining members were sloshed enough to continually miss parts, go off-key and stumble around the stage. But it all worked. The set lasted the same length as the Hamden show, but the band performed six less songs — there was a whole lot of drunken rambling in between tunes.

I have now seen the group begin two different tours, once in the aforementioned Hamden, and once in New York about two years ago. I saw the guys close a different tour at BAR in New Haven sometime last winter, and now I've seen them close this jaunt.

The Hold Steady is a totally different band at the beginning and end of tours. If you want a traditional, focused rock show, see them at the beginning of a tour, but if you want a decadent, classic Replacements-like set, get to the end.

In other news, I found out The Broken West was performing at The Middle East Upstairs last night, just a day after playing Cafe Nine. The guys were opening this gig, so we figured we could catch them play and still have time to get downstairs and see the very good Sean Na Na. It worked.

Mark my words: Come January when its record hits stores, you're going to be hearing a lot from The Broken West. A good amount more from me, too. This is a such a good band.

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