As it worked out, my first concert of the year was on the first day of the year. Jen and I went to see the Hold Steady at the House of Blues.
Not on the bill that I had seen, a local band called Sybaris opened. I thought they were talented, but not my cup of tea. Female vocalist, kind of hard. Luckily they only did 1/2 an hour.
Next up was Chin Up Chin Up. We had missed them at the Pitchfork Festival this summer, so I was curious. I'd listened to a few of their songs online and was intrigued. I enjoyed them musically, but the lead singers' vocals grated on me after awhile. The sound wasn't spectacular, so that probably didn't help. If they were at another festival I was at, I'd check them out, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see them again.
After this summer's great drizzly Sunday afternoon show at Lollapalooza, I had much anticipation for The Hold Steady, and was excited to introduce Jen to them. Unfortunately the sound and the crowd around us were both horrible and put a major damper on the evening. I could barely understand a word Craig said, even when he was talk-singing as he does through much of the songs. I first chalked it up to some hearing problems I suspect I have, based on experiences at a few other concerts, but when I compared notes later with Jen and B & C, they all complained about the sound too. A nationally recognized chain such as the House of Blues should be able to do better than that. The sound guy must have been hung over from New Year's Eve.
It seems 9 out of 10 shows I go to, I'm a magnet for large, loud, idiots, and the guy that ended up next to me at this show was the king of them all. I've never found the Hold Steady's music to be particularly romantic, but almost every son moved this guy to make out and cuddle with this girlfriend. Apparently she is herself unable to sway or move with the music and required his large gangly arms around her the whole evening. I understand it's a small crowded place and your personal space will invaded and incidental contact with strangers will be made, but these people had no regard for anyone around them. Jen in particular was body slammed until she couldn't stand it anymore and we moved out of the floor area.
I think behind the bad sound the Hold Steady were putting on a good show. Good song selection - most of Boys and Girls with a good mix of older stuff (Cattle and the Creeping Things, Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night, Killer Parties, The Swish, Stevie Nix, and a few more).
So not a stellar experience to kick off the new year. Already a number of concerts on the schedule for Jan/Feb, so hopefully things will turn around.