I wish I could remember more about the first Hold Steady concert I saw. I know it was in 2005 at the Duluth Pizza Lucé. I know I went alone. I’ll never forget how Lucé felt during shows back then. But beyond that I’ve got almost nothing. No memory of specific songs they played or how big they sounded in that small room or what happened in my body and brain while it was going on.
I can’t even remember why I went. I wasn’t a Hold Steady fan. For most of 2004 I’d seen music magazine stories about how supposedly great they were, and that was my reason for ignoring them. I was early-30s going on 15 in some ways. One way was that I resisted music other people liked, as I’d done since junior high, because how would anyone know how special I was if I didn’t oppose things other people supported? (Ask me how I still feel about U2, REM, Faith No More, and INXS.) Maybe I went because curiosity wore down my resistance and misjudgment. Maybe I’m remembering it wrong and I’d been listening to them for a while.
A fan site says the show was on March 12 (a Saturday). I think I remember Lucé being full but not as packed as I’d seen it for the Black-eyed Snakes, Brother Ali, Dillinger Four, or Trampled by Turtles. Not chaotic like those shows. I think it was for sure the first time I’d heard any Hold Steady songs. Did I get bored? Sometimes that happens if I don’t know the songs, even when a band is good. Could I make out any lyrics? I had to like the actual music, which sounds like classic rock, punk, power pop, and other genres the Gen X music omnivores in the band would have inhaled while growing up.