The Hold Steady tell stories. And not just “The Bear, The Bear, The Maiden Fair.” They didn’t only do it via some brief moments where lead singer Craig Finn channeled his inner Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs*, telling the crowd that Rock and Roll is keeping people together in a digital age.

The band’s music tells tales of small town America and feels of Minnesota, telling tales of growing up and of Boys and Girls in America (fittingly the title of the band’s first album).

The band is touring in support of their sixth album, Teeth Dream and RAGS, well worth a listen on Spotify. The album is consistently Hold Steady, with most songs containing a few memorable lines fans can sing with the band as they made their way through their consistent set. There is certainly progress from their most known effort, 2008’s Stay Positive, which contained the single “Sequestered in Memphis,” a song well worth tuning in, turning up, and rocking out. Thursday’s concert was the kind of show that Belly Up was built for, letting the six piece** outfit play directly to the slightly older, male-dominant crowd. Finn played to the crowd well, making use of the verbal pauses to repeat the last line of the song like a stand-up comedian, playing to the first three rows.

The show was lively, heartfelt, and focused on the music, lacking the high-tech effects of last week’s OK GO show. As to be expected from a band of this caliber, the music was on point, especially “Chips Ahoy,” the aforementioned “Sequestered in Memphis,” and South Town Girls, a personal favorite. The band often returns to Belly Up for the annual Sunset Sessions, and is well worth a visit next time they come through town.

Photos By: Jorge Valcarcel
Review By: David Israel