Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Hold Steady @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto (July 16, 2010)

  The Hold Steady's Craig Finn: photo by Michael Ligon

Update: Review/photos now up. Yes, that took a long time.

Originally scheduled for Kool Haus, part of me believed that Brooklyn-based The Hold Steady were capable of filling the venue. In a perfect world, they'd have sold-out the 2,500 capacity Kool Haus, but alas it was not to be. The show was downsized to the Phoenix Concert Theatre, and while the Friday night show had a healthy crowd onhand, it was not even sold out. I missed openers The Whigs but as was the case for me, it was only The Hold Steady I was looking forward to.

The show was in support of the support of the St Alban's Boys and Girls Club. Ex-Toronto Raptor Matt Bonner came out as MC to say a few words even making a joke about having to choose the headliner for the night between The Hold Steady and Justin Bieber, which of course drew some laughs but ultimately hollers for The Hold Steady. Although touring in support of a new album entitled Heaven Is Whenever, publicity for it had been mostly under my radar to the point that I'd forgot that they actually had new product to promote. I can't speak for the new material but I was thankful that the setlist was a sweet mix of new and old.

Although the Phoenix is not the most intimate of venues, especially compared to the originally planned venue Kool Haus, it did illustrate that perhaps The Hold Steady just aren't ready for bigger venues yet. Especially on a Friday night, there was a good-time vibe amongst the crowd, but most the physical enthusiasm was concentrated near the front of the house. As I'd eventually ventured further back in the crowd(after being near the front to take photos), the crowd was decidely mellower further away from the stage, even during some of The Hold Steady's most popular songs like "Chips Ahoy" and "Stuck Between Stations". Do I fault the band for this? Perhaps. On the other hand, such a phenomenom is common at many shows. Yes, they may not yet be ready to play larger venues like Kool Haus with command, but when they start to really live up to the Springsteen comparisons, there's no doubt in my mind they'll blow the roof off of what ever venue they play. Overall, The Hold Steady played an energetic, almost two hour set, proving again that rock n' roll is here to stay, and at the end of the show vocalist Craig Finn bidding us to "Stay Positive".

For more reviews of the show, check out Exclaim and chartattack.

Photos: The Hold Steady @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto (July 16, 2010)
MySpace: The Hold Steady

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