_ The clouds parted and the vibe completely turned around as soon as The Hold Steady took the stage in Brooklyn’s McCarren Park Sunday afternoon. Opening with the promise of a “Constructive Summer,” they did just that. Focusing on their new album, due July 15th through Vagrant Records, the band played ten of their eleven new tracks, splashing in some more familiar songs here and there. Lead singer, Craig Finn, held up to high expectations with his amazing storytelling and slightly tweaked voice, which he’s been working on in singing lessons since “Boys And Girls In America.”
The energy swelled as the show progressed and the band grew more excited. Born to entertain, Finn couldn’t stay in one place for more than a few seconds and hopped all over the stage, mic stand in tow. Pianist Franz Nicolay grinned the whole time, switching from piano to accordion to start, “Lord I’m Discouraged.”
The band got to listen to some singing as well when the crowd sang Happy Birthday to guitarist Tad Kubler, and Finn found the perfect gift for “a man who has everything” with “the gift of soloing.” And solo he did, spitting out some ridiculous licks throughout the show but particularly during the encore.
“Your Little Hoodrat Friend” was met with exuberant cheers and enthusiastic fist pumping around midpoint, and my personal favorite, “Chips Ahoy,” held its own early into the show. Even those not familiar with The Hold Steady got sucked into the lyrics and performance; by the end of the 19-song set that lasted over 80 minutes, the band had grown on everybody. Pumped up indie rockers and hipsters flooded the Brooklyn bars as soon as the show ended.
The show was free, but there weren’t any who wouldn’t have dished out some bills for a ticket by the conclusion. The Hold Steady kept their promise and built something this summer, leaving stunned fans and newcomers with an afterglow that will last for weeks.
Set list 1. Constructive Summer 2. Banging Camp 3. Chips Ahoy! 4. Magazines 5. Multitude of Casualties 6. Yeah Sapphire 7. Navy Sheets 8. Same Kooks 9. Stay Positive 10. Stuck Between Stations 11. The Swish 12. Your Little Hoodrat Friend 13. How a Resurrection Really Feels 14. Joke About Jamaica 15. Sequestered in Memphis 16. Arms & Hearts Encore 17. Lord, I'm Discouraged 18. One for the Cutters 19. Slapped Actress