I’m sure we’ve all been there: at a party where you feel tragically out of place. That’s basically how Greg Scranton (photos) and I felt on Friday night at Toad’s Place in New Haven. Steeped in rock ‘n’ roll history, the bar was host to two of the drinkingest bands in America right now: The Hold Steady and Deer Tick. Although as Craig Finn lead singer of the Hold Steady asked the audience if “anyone else given up drinking for lent?” It turns out no one else in the crowd had. To give you an idea of how drunk the audience was, one of the loudest ovations Deer Tick got was when lead singer John McCauley said “check this out” and opened a beer bottle with his teeth.
Considering how close the band was to their home base of Providence, the majority of the crowd seemed to know the words to their songs and bought into the heavy drinking persona. A treat was when McCauley brought out his wife, Vanessa Carlton to sing “In Our Time.”
But ultimately, the night was about the Hold Steady. As one drunken patron told Scranton and I, The Holdy Steady are going to “tear the fucking roof off this place” and indeed they did. Despite Craig Finn’s soberness, the front man was in rare form: yelling off microphone, taking victory laps on stage. It was triumphant to see a grown man look like he’s having so much fucking fun.
The band didn’t force the crowd to stand around much before coming out for an encore. They brought out Ian O’Neil of Deer Tick to play “Constructive Summer” and a cover of Deer Tick’s “Easy” Afterwards Ian got a big sweaty hug from Finn before the band closed the show with “Stay Positive.”