Thursday, February 19, 2015

Live Review: The Hold Steady 2/13/15 Bowery Ballroom, NYC

The Hold Steady
Bowery Ballroom, NYC

Thank God for Charity. 

Matthew Bonner threw an Alt Star Party in NYC this year and I am hoping all the money went to people who need it. That and the The Hold Steady’s playing is all the good I can say about Friday night in NYC.

Mr. Bonner may have good intentions but his execution is pitiful. When you come to New York and host a party, with the literal statement of providing to the paying crowd new beer brewed specifically for the event, fresh gear and a “Music extravaganza In NYC” you should probably do better research, especially during a party packed NBA All-Star Weekend.

STRNGRS opened the night with their boring take on indie-gospel. A less than captivating front man with no soul? Check. Shitty engagement from the crowd? Double check and it only got weaker from there. After an hour delay and a clear breakdown between staff and Bonner’s team there was a only a slight hope that things would improve during the set break. They didn't.

No chance to sample the new beer, which was only in the VIP section, no “fresh gear” to be found, no idea from the Bowery Ballroom Staff (who are fantastic usually) what was even going on.

A supposed DJ set from Win Butler (Arcade Fire), Chris Tomson (Vampire Weekend), Dapwell (formerly of Das Racist), was next and all three (to their credit) looked like they wanted to be anywhere else but here, standing in a semi circle playing records awkwardly. Playing questionable tunes for an hour and a half does not make you a DJ, and they all knew it.

When the pain receded the Hold Steady did what they could to quell the growing frustration. They blasted out straight ahead and started with a "Positive Jam" playing a set of their old favorites. With oldies like "Sweet Payne" mixing with "Spinners" as the home town team took to the court with ease. “Constructive Summer” was a set highlight but for a band who prides themselves on a Unified Scene they looked less engaged then in the past and perhaps this  year break from playing live is needed.

Fans were their normal raucous selves tossing glitter and singing along as the group bet on horses, held a conference at “The Ambassador”. Some nights are massive and we were all told how a resurrection really felt to close the night. 

It is too bad that this is the only show that The Hold Steady have booked for 2015 with what proceeded them and we have certainly caught better shows from the band. As the group are all going on to perform individually this year, perhaps the breather will inspire for future greater returns.

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