Sunday, April 18, 2010

Show Review - The Hold Steady - Diesel - 4/14/10 - Pittsburgh - Concert Review

I always thought Diesel receives a bad wrap as a venue. Yes, it’s a cheezer club. Yes, it’s not the most fan friendly environment. And yes, the shows are pretty early. However, if you get there at a decent hour you can get a great spot to see a show. The place is thoroughly clean including the bathrooms. Plus, they have the best soundman in the Burgh (he might have left because he wasn’t there this evening).

Since we were at Diesel last time (maybe 5 months) the club has upgraded their interior by partitoning off the upstairs to create open ‘rooms’ along the railing. Included in these spaces are couches with tv’s to lounge and relax. We got there about 15 minutes after doors had opened and claimed our spot upstairs. The bonus about this evening was the Pens were playing. While waiting for the show we had a private viewing of the game.

The show began with The Oranges Band from Baltimore. I had seen this band many years ago opening for somebody in Orlando. They came out and played a pretty good set, though not memorable. It was your typical indie rock flair with driving guitar and a melodic sound. The lead tried to communicate with the crowd, but in awkward way. His stories went nowhere with the crowd talking over him. After a few songs my attention was squarely on the tv screen above.

When The Hold Steady finally came out the crowd was jammed packed up and downstairs. I imagine it was pretty close to selling out. One thing you saw at this show was a cross range of fans from young teenage kids (who were following the band from show to show) to the over 50 crowd (at least 20 in attendance). It was a wonderful mix of people that you would rarely see at any other show. The Hold Steady were here last at Carnegie Library in Homestead that for all intent and purpose was a disappointment with sound issues, dry venue and reserved seating. Diesel was the type of venue THS is meant to play.

THS began the first part of their set by playing new songs off their upcoming album “Heaven is Whenever”. At first listen, these tunes are in the same vein as their other albums, but with a more somber tone. Things quickly picked up with fan favorites “Magazine”, “Stuck Between Stations” and sing-along “Massive Night” with the young fans near the stage pumping their fists and chanting along. Craig Finn is a lead who commands the stage with his dancing and rapping lyrics. In between songs he balanced this off with the proper amount of banter talking about the city’s rival Cleveland and telling a story about his awkward dinner at Nakama the last time they played the Rex. He was seated by himself and then joined by 6 other people who didn’t communicate with him the entire evening.

The fans at the show were also eating up the atmosphere. The +50 year olds in the ‘room’ next to me were singing every lyric while downing their drinks between songs. At one point the 50 year old man shook up his beer and sprayed it on the crowd below. The kids in front of the stage were in constant dance mode over the nearly 1.5 hour set. Plus, people who showed up late upstairs were trying to force their way to the railing just to catch a glimpse of the band. It was a wonderfully entertaining night even with the Pens loss.

***More Hold Steady videos here: pghmusicreport videos


  1. I must say that I will probably be boycotting Deisel after the Brother Ali show this past Friday. Being forcefully kicked out at 9:30 while the main act is trying his best to say hello's, take pictures, and sign autographs for all of his fans is truly unacceptable and goes pretty strongly against all music cultures. I've had a few other ridiculous experiences there and this one sealed the deal.