I was going to be in Las Vegas anyway, so when I found out that The Hold Steady would be playing the night I arrived, I nearly broke my fingers getting to Ticketmaster as fast as I could :-)

Yep, I landed Monday around 8pm, got a taxi to my hotel, unpacked quickly, and headed straight on up to a cute little club called Beauty Bar. Someone was even getting a manicure in the front barroom when I arrived. I actually didn’t have much opportunity to check it out because the show was outside behind the building in a space that probably fit <500 people. It was a beautiful mild evening in the low 70’s, maybe upper 60’s. Wow.

I had gotten there pretty early so I was able to get right up front and center so I could jump around and wave arms with all the other crazies. I was never more than 3 people deep from the stage at any time, which was extra good because the stage was pretty low. Further back I wouldn’t have been able to see very well. I met a guy who flew in from Detroit for the show(!!) who said he’d seen them 16 or 17 times. In comparison, my 6 or so times doesn’t seem too stalkerish, now does it!

The show itself was fantastic as expected – a nice long set, too. Extended squee and flail and SETLIST and pix after the cut.

The outdoor space was basically a small rectangular lot behind the bar:

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A local band whose name I didn’t catch was up first. The second band has been traveling with THS for a couple weeks, they said. Their name was The War on Drugs and they hailed from Philly. I liked them pretty well.

The drum has the Stay Positive logo on it. You can see how close I am to Craig’s monitor in the foreground, at the center-front of the stage:

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The setlist was taped to the monitor! I couldn’t get close to it but a guy near me could. After he took his own picture, I got him to take one for me. I didn’t look at the picture, so as to not be spoiled for the show :-) Not that I could have really read it on my phone anyway. It’s blurry of course, being a nighttime photo of text, but clear enough:

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They played straight through with almost no talking between songs, just pounding out high-energy song after song. Craig Finn was his usual manic adorable self, with the dancing and the gestures and the funny faces. Main set:

  1. Same Kooks
  2. The Swish
  3. Magazines
  4. You Can Make Him Like You
  5. You Gotta Dance (With Who You Came With)
  6. Multitude of Casualties
  7. Constructive Summer
  8. Hot Soft Light
  9. Navy Sheets
  10. Chips Ahoy!
  11. Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night
  12. Charlemagne in Sweatpants
  13. Bangin’ Camp
  14. Yeah Sapphire
  15. One for the Cutters
  16. Stay Positive
  17. Lord I’m Discouraged
  18. Hornets! Hornets!
  19. Slapped Actress

Encore:

  1. Stuck Between Stations
  2. Stevie Nix
  3. Killer Parties

For some reason, they skipped Stevie Nix, which is a bummer because it’s one of my favorites. Something seemed to not go quite right, Craig seemed to not be expecting Killer Parties after Stuck Between Stations. Not sure if the band got signals crossed, or they were running out of time or what. There were a couple of brief moments during the show when something went awry with the sound – excess feedback or something else – and a flicker of annoyance crossed his face. But overall it was extremely awesome.

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