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The Hold Steady (#110 of 1)

SXSW 2014: The Hold Steady, Phantogram, Black Lips, Hurray for the Riff Raff, & More

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SXSW 2014: The Hold Steady, Phantogram, Black Lips, Hurray for the Riff Raff, & More
SXSW 2014: The Hold Steady, Phantogram, Black Lips, Hurray for the Riff Raff, & More

If you passed him on a street corner, you might mistake The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn for a stressed-out dad or high school chemistry teacher, but on stage his conspicuous nervous energy gets channeled toward making sure that every single person in attendance has a fantastic time. When he sings, he gesticulates wildly, pitching his body over the stage and stretching out his fists as though trying to shake any lingering note of complacency out of his audience. Playing in anticipation of the March 25th release their new album, the Hold Steady bookended a series of new songs with two older favorites, “The Sweet Part of the City” and “The Weekenders,” which recall Bruce Springsteen’s snapshots of urban life in both their sharply observed lyrics and their measured, melodic tempos. The offerings from the new album, including lead single “I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You,” portend a return to the band’s origins, notably their brassier guitar onslaughts, punkier percussion, and Finn’s signature speak-singing, where every line hovers somewhere between a tune and a full-throated shout.