America's bar band stays positive at Ogden
The Hold Steady served Denver a heaping helping of Midwestern blue collar rock Wednesday night at the Ogden Theatre, proving that international success has only made the band quirkier and more fun.
If The Hold Steady leader Craig Finn seems spastic and just a little too smart for his own good on his albums, it's nothing compared to his live performance. Plenty of singers like to channel the nerdy charm of Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo, but for Finn, it's no act. Looking like a cross between a Geek Squad employee and Michael Douglas' character in the movie "Falling Down," Finn flailed and boogied straight through nearly two hours of wordy rock. If he occasionally forgot a few words of his novella-length songs, he more than made up for it by hitting lyrics about "Colorado corn" and the Denver slums especially hard.
The boozy, mixed crowd got especially wild during singalongs such as "Massive Nights" and "Sequestered in Memphis," but the band gave their sweaty all even on trickier cuts ("Charlemagne in Sweatpants"). While The Hold Steady seemed to make a point of not taking themselves too seriously, the band's four-guitar attack was surprisingly intense, with lead guitarist Tad Kubler leading the charge.
Opening act The Whigs brought more Nick Cave-esque distortion and Southern Gothic drawl than perhaps was expected, but did an admirable job getting the crowd in the mood for the headliners' melting pot of influences.