SEATTLE, Washington My pseudo-sib pulled an early-Christmas judo move: dinner and tix to The Hold Steady, often referred to as "America's best bar band" and the smart-@ssery of choice among Pacific Northwest travel hacks, it seems, since an ace food-hybrid writer joined us.
Yeah, I'm big on sample sizes. Anyway.
Singer Craig Finn launched into "Citrus" at the Showbox Sodo. The room's adrenaline spiked. We shot each other glances, potent as malt whiskey, then finally huddled to confirm, "we're at one of the best concerts we'll ever see."
Who knows why? Mojo remains an elusive thing ... The co-headliners Drive-By Truckers apparently had eclipsed our pet punks the night before at this same venue. But on Friday, The Hold Steady spanked their tour mates. The song lineup, the crowd-roiling hysteria, the ragged half-breaths between hits, Finn busting out the bunny-king dance moves: live music doesn't kundalini into your guts and ignite your mind this often. Hell, someone passed out early in the set. The energy sparked like that.
I struggled for some parallel: performers in their absolute chi moment. REM or The Red Hot Chili Peppers at Lollapalooza what was it 1992? Tori Amos humping the piano bench or, weirdly, Tony Bennett crooning to ecstatic mud-caked crowds at Glastonbury 1997? The same festival where Pulp and Blur roared, but Bob Dylan lamed out and nearly sparked a riot after three days of floods? (And when some yahoo stole my four-season sleeping bag and I dozed instead under a weave of bellybutton lint.) The time my Brit colleagues convinced me to, um, "borrow" the company car to see Robert Plant in a blizzard? Four rows back at Ani DiFranco in Rome, two years running?
Life's highlights, much like lovers, don't shuffle into a hierarchy, though.
Only this rings true:
We had some massive nights
We got the songs just right
Finn, here y'all did. We did.