The Hold Steady @ U.S. Cellular Connection Stage, Summerfest
July 1, 2010
They kicked off their first Summerfest performance
with a heavy rendition of the Stay Positive opening track
"Constructive Summer." Any doubts that this show wouldn't amp up the
volume (after disappointing levels at the U.S. Cellular stage earlier in the
week) were quelled immediately. Finn sang lyrics with a devil-may-care
attitude, ostensibly infatuated with his own one-liners yet in a way that
seemed endearing rather than conceited. "Tonight's one of the nights where
I feel like the luckiest guy in the world," Finn proclaimed in between
songs, and believing him was easy. With Finn dancing around the stage and
playfully inciting the guitarists into solo challenges, all signs pointed to
this being one of the best nights of his life.
While The Hold Steady's latest record, Heaven Is Whenever, has been the most divisive album among fans, the group sold the few songs they played live—most notably, the lead track "The Sweet Part of the City," which yielded crowd praise after the repeating line, "We were bored so we started a band/We'd like to play for you." Although the night couldn't help but sound like a greatest-hits tour for the Midwestern natives, "Stuck Between Stations," "Stay Positive," "You Can Make Him Like You" and "Chips Ahoy!" all reverberated like classic-rock anthems from a relevant classic rock band. When's the last time Summerfest had one of those?