The Hold Steady Live in Philadelphia (4/30/10)

Who?: The Hold Steady
Where?: World Cafe Live at WXPN Studios
When?: April 30th, 2010

Hey all, how’s it going? So today was kind of an unusual day in terms of going to concerts. But just because it was unusual doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good time! I say it was unusual because the show started at noon, and that’s definitely not the time I’m used to going to shows. But the good news is that because this show was at noon, I had a great excuse to skip one of my final classes of my sophomore year. I certainly wasn’t about to miss the Hold Steady perform live because of a lame statistics class. I don’t think anybody in the right mind would! The even greater news is that I was able to get into the show and shoot a few videos of the Hold Steady, who were visiting WXPN to play a show for their “Free at Noon” concert series. The Hold Steady? For free? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

The Weekenders – The Hold Steady’s latest album is about to drop on May 4th from Vagrant, so you can probably guess that the show was dominated by brand new songs from the forthcoming album. This song is called “The Weekenders”, and it’s the third track from “Heaven is Whenever”. They played the song “The Sweet Part of the City” before this, so this was their second song of the show.

Hurricane J – This was the first of any songs to appear on the blogosphere from their latest album, and it was the third song of their setlist. This song originally premiered on Pitchfork back on March 22nd, and since then the Hold Steady have toured all over the east coast. Luckily for us in Philly they finally decided to drop by on the 30th! They’ve had a break from touring since their last show in Harrisburg, PA on April 16th.

Barely Breathing – Now I haven’t really given the new album “Heaven is Whenever” an in-depth listen just yet, but this song sounds like it could easily be one of the highlights. It has a shady feel to it, mainly due to that intimidating guitar riff that opens up the song. And just look at how much fun Craig Finn has on stage! His arms are constantly sprawled out all over the place, using his hands and whatever else to kind of “narrate” the story. At this point Finn has nothing else on his mind but to have a damn good time, and I think it’s pretty obvious.

Rock Problems – This was another one of the earlier songs to be unveiled from “Heaven is Whenever”. While Finn sings about all the possible problems involved with a rock and roll lifestyle (drugs, girls, etc.), guitarist Tab Kubler totally melts our faces off with an (almost) flawless guitar solo.

Our Whole Lives – This song features some great guitar work by the one and only Tad Kubler once again. He makes the guitar squeal quite well in this one, and yet, he makes it look so damn easy! Why can’t I do that? This song reminds me of the good old days when Franz Nicolay was still around. If you listen to this song from the album, the intro screams early Hold Steady…or “old Steady”.

We Can Get Together – Before leaving the stage to come back for an encore, the Hold Steady play the slower, more laid back song “We Can Get Together”, which, according to Mr. Finn, is about getting together with a girl and just listening to music. Check out the ridiculous solo a bit after the 3 minute mark by Tad Kubler again. This guy seriously knows how to shred. Wow.

Southtown Girls – Well, here it is. The moment everybody was waiting for. After they left the stage they came back for a short but good spirited encore, in which they played two old songs. Yes! These are the songs everybody came out to hear! They started the encore with “Southtown Girls”, the closing track to their legendary 2006 album “Boys and Girls in America”. Do I even need to comment on the guitar playing in this one?

Your Little Hoodrat Friend – Awwwww the Hold Steady!! It’s songs like these that everybody loves you so much! This song was truly a surprise, as I definitely didn’t think we’d hear anything from “Separation Sunday”. They draw this one out for quite awhile with some spacey guitar effects – and my arm was really starting to hurt by this point from holding the camera up for so long.

Well, that brings us to the end of the show. They left the stage shortly after the song to go do an interview for the WXPN Radio Station. I hope this post was a surprise for you guys, because I never listed it in the ‘shows’ section. So thanks for viewing, listen to this mp3 of “Barely Breathing” below, and be sure to check back very soon!

The Hold Steady’s Official Website
The Hold Steady on Myspace
Listen to the entire show right here on NPR, complete with a write-up and setlist.

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