Friday Night Rock features 'bar band' The Hold Steady

by Erin McDonald | 11/17/05 6:00am

This Friday night in the Fuel club inside Collis, "bar band" indie rockers The Hold Steady will perform for a crowd of students eager to relax after a tough week of pre-Thanksgiving papers and enjoy the energy and charisma of up-tempo rock.

Thanks to the funding of Programming Board and the organizational work of the Friday Night Rock committee, this New York City-based band, originally from Minnesota, promises to entertain students with what a Pitchfork reviewer described simply as a "harsh, emphatic beat."

In 2004, The Hold Steady released their debut album, "Almost Killed Me", under the Frenchkiss Records label. After the first release, the band began showing up on music magazine covers throughout the country and ended up on "The Best of 2004" lists in mainstream publications like Rolling Stone, Spin and Magnet.

Their sophomore album, "Separation Sunday," was released this year on the same label. The album's songs are based around the story of a Catholic girl named Hallelujah who involves herself with a number of "shady characters," begins using drugs and is eventually born again. The singer's clever lyrics are perhaps what holds the listener from beginning to end of the story, as he maintains the party-vibe sound while telling deep and sometimes far-out stories throughout each track.

Andrew Sandoval '06, general manager of Friday Night Rock, said, "They have kind of a classic rock sound and one of the best vocalists with a big rock vibe The music is a mix of party atmosphere and a complex story, so it's good for a Dartmouth crowd. I think they're an intelligent band."

Various magazines have compared The Hold Steady's sound to that of Bruce Springstein, and the band members name The Rolling Stones, The Replacements and The Grifters as some of their musical heroes. FNR member Brendon Bouzard '06 said, "Anyone on campus can come to this show and appreciate [the band]. They have some of the best damn choruses and guitar solos I've heard."

The star of the show will easily be lead vocalist and guitarist Craig Finn. "He is a real frontman. We haven't had a front man like Finn since Ted Leo [who played last year at Fuel]," Sandoval said. Finn's vocals seem to be a half-rap, half-talking mix with melodic elements and lyrics that can't be fully understood by listening to a song just once.

The Hold Steady is not the first project for Craig Finn. He was also the front man for Lifter Puller, a short-lived project that received less-than-stellar reviews compared to the extremely positive response for The Hold Steady's albums (Pitchfork Media called Finn's first band "quasi-typical indie rock with lyrics and music that are totally incongruous.") The Hold Steady draws on a more classic-rock feel than Lifter Puller, and Finn is now receiving more recognition as an NYC artist and talented lyricist than he did during his old Midwestern days in Minnesota. Lucky for Finn, both of The Hold Steady's albums have been met with praise from the media, as some are even calling "Separation Sunday" the indie album of the year. Becca Sacks '08, a fan of the band, said, "It's music that feels good to listen to -- it's the closest thing to bar-rock we've had here."

Bouzard said, "You don't have to be an indie rock kid to enjoy this show. They're a party band. This will be the closest FNR has ever been to a frat basement."

Doors will open at 9:30 p.m., and one of Dartmouth's own student bands, Oh No Dinosaur!, will open the show at 10 p.m. The Hold Steady will begin their set at 10:45 p.m.