Last Night: The Hold Steady & Art Brut in Philly

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THEHOLDSTEADYsmall.jpg
Photos by Michael Alan Goldberg. Click here for a slideshow.

The Hold Steady/Art Brut
October 23, 2007
Fillmore at the TLA, Philadelphia
Better Than: The

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Last Night: The Hold Steady & Art Brut in Philly

Coming to Seattle on November 4th!

  • Last Night: The Hold Steady & Art Brut in Philly

  • ">

    THEHOLDSTEADYsmall.jpg
    Photos by Michael Alan Goldberg. Click here for a slideshow.

    The Hold Steady/Art Brut
    October 23, 2007
    Fillmore at the TLA, Philadelphia
    Better Than: The new Springsteen album.
    Note: This tour his the UW's H.U.B. Ballroom on Sunday, Nov. 4

    The Hold Steady is friggin' huge.  Not stadium-huge, but indie-rock-huge, which I didn't fully realize until last night's show at Philadelphia's very, very packed Fillmore at the TLA (or just the TLA, or Theatre of Living Arts, to old-school Fluffians* like myself). I came to this realization after spending more than half of the Brooklyn quintet's set crushed against the barrier to the edge of my life by more than a thousand completely apeshit fans, who sang along to nearly every lyric; who chanted "Positive! Positive! Positive!" for several minutes before THS came out and kicked things off with "Positive Jam" (the lead track on their 2004 debut album, Almost Killed Me); and who roared deafeningly when bassist Galen Polivka came out 20 minutes before the band played to check on his rig (the confused, bemused look on his face was priceless).

    Once "Positive Jam" got the crowd frothed up, the fivesome blasted through nearly 20 more songs drawn from all three of their full-lengths. To loosely paraphrase David Lee Roth's quote about Elvis Costello, slightly doughy, bespectacled Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn looks like most of the male rock critics in America, which may be why they love him so.  It's also gotta be the great tunes -- literate and raggedly anthemic as they are, THS can still rock out like Van Halen ... okay, maybe more like Thin Lizzy. Acknowledging that their last album -- Boys and Girls in America -- came out more than a year ago, Finn unveiled some new songs to rabid cheers.  Didn't get the titles, but one was slow and boozy-sad -- colored nicely by Franz Nicolay's accordion -- and another was crunchy and explosive.

    More impressive was the fact that the Hold Steady were able to hold their own after a ridiculously great opening set by Art Brut, who are kinda like Pulp on crank:  Very British (i.e. cheeky and wry) and unbelievably high-voltage.  Frontman Eddie Argos wears funny socks (and no shoes), jumps into the crowd, and makes funny faces.  Guitarist/vocalist Jasper Future makes even funnier faces, and the fact that he looks like a young Sting makes it that much funnier. The quintet's 45 minutes onstage was a complete blast; I'm amazed they don't electrocute themselves with their own vibe.

    Reporter's Notebook

    Personal Bias: The Hold Steady's Separation Sunday (2005) is one of my favorite albums of the past several years.
    Random Detail: Although they won't be playing in Seattle when the Hold Steady and Art Brut come to the H.U.B. Ballroom on Sunday, Nov. 4, last night's show opener -- the New York City two-girl, one-guy trio Demander -- are definitely ones to keep eyes and ears out for.  They're kinda like Sleater-Kinney dropped into a spaghetti western.

    * "Fluffians" is Philadelphia-speak for "Philadelphians"
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