Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Massive Nights

Happy Halloween, y'all. Just sitting waiting for trick-or-treaters to knock on our door. Deb took the girls to visit a couple of friends before we take them out in the neighborhood. This is the one time of year when I actually see just about everyone on my street.

I left work early today because they close off the streets of Salem at 5 for the big Nawlins-esque Halloween free-for-all; didn't want to get caught in Witch City. I've never actually gone to Salem on Halloween, even when I lived there for a year. Just never had the desire, and I'm not one of those Halloween haters, either (you know who you are). I certainly enjoy the candy aspect of the season, perhaps a little too much.

I'm feeling surprisingly good today, considering I didn't get home from the Hold Steady show last night until 1:30. That's a tad late on a school night, even by my standards. Last night's show was the final date of the first leg of a monthlong tour to promote their excellent new album, Boys and Girls in America. So we should have known what to expect. The band's old-Springsteen-meets-Led-Zep sound translates well to the bar setting, but last night, they put the "bar" back in bar band. I met up with OJ early in the evening at the Middle East in Cambridge and we checked out openers the Big Sleep and Sean Na Na, the latter act being a power pop band from the Hold Steady's hometown of Minneapolis. They were pretty goofy and pretty fun, and at the rate they were doing shots, well on their way to being pretty drunk. When the Hold Steady came out, frontman Craig Finn was already half in the bag. Things got off to a slow start after a series of technical problems beset the band: Finn's pedal didn't work, the bass sound was cut off, and later keyboardist Franz Nicolay had some sound issues as well. But they plugged on through and soon were ripping through rockin' versions of "Cattle and the Creeping Things," "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" and "Chips Ahoy." Finn is a manic frontman who rants more than sings, is prone to impromptu Ozzy-style clapping, wild gesticulations, and rambling monologues. He looks like a college professor more than a rock singer as he weaves his tales of drug deals, teenage sex and the Twin Cities. He had the crowd eating out of his hand last night, especially the folks right up front who were shouting every word to every song along with him. The band sounded good, but the Sean Na Na guys kept coming up on stage to deliver shots, sing backup and roll around on the floor and the show got progressively messier. Eventually, Finn was staggering and guitarist Tad Kubler was feeling no pain. It was definitely an experience, although it would have been nice to see them when they weren't falling-down drunk. I was trying to think of a singer I've seen live who was more addled than Finn, but I can't. The security guys were right in front of us and were starting to freak out, especially during the final song "Killer Parties" when the band brought at least 50 people up on stage with them. Fortunately nothing bad happened and everybody left peacefully after the song ended. With all the hype surrounding them, it's unlikely the Hold Steady will play a venue that small again. Hopefully, they'll hit the Paradise in the middle of a tour next time.

The cattle and the creeping things:

  • I'm back playing hockey again starting tomorrow night in Lynn. My friend Lee's Wednesday night group needs a few guys, so I'm in. I'm looking forward to it, although I'm sure I'll be sucking major wind tomorrow night after two months off the ice.
  • The price is wrong, bitch: Bob Barker's retiring after 50 years.
  • I dare say this is an exhibit Beavis and Butt-head would love, because it's all about poop.

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