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Looking like a young Peter Sellers, the diminutive Craig Finn led the Hold Steady onto the Belly Up stage for their fourth local concert in two years. Opening with a chorus of hammers and anvils in the guise of guitars and drums, the band erected a sonic wall of sound that stood for the night.

With a joyous grin, Finn’s vocals sounded more like shouted conversation than lyrics. He was obviously enjoying himself, as was the appreciative crowd, which joined in loudly on the "whooooa" choruses of "Massive Nights" and "Chips Ahoy."

Mixing up their set with new and old tunes, the band eschewed the piano focus of Boys and Girls in America (pianist Franz Nicolay having left the band) for a barrage of six-string thunder more representative of new release Heaven Is Whenever.

On a local note, openers the Donkeys were surprisingly sweet. Producing a laidback Eagles-Dead-Young Americana set of subtle but tasty tunes, they came off as that rare thing, a band, not just some guys playing together.

  • Concert: the Hold Steady
  • Date: May 4
  • Venue: Belly up Tavern
  • Seats: general
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