It's no secret that rock 'n roll can sometimes be transcendent, but this fact is usually relegated to one's youth. The discovery of bands that will one day become among your favorites is an experience unlike any other, but the child-like joy usually dies out somewhere around the time you discover cynicism. However, if there's one band in the world that can make you forget all of that bad shit, it's The Hold Steady and boy oh boy did they do it for me last night.
The show, like every Hold Steady show I've ever been to, was balls-out fun. If you haven't seen the Hold Steady - do it! Whether or not you consider yourself a fan does not matter. Their records are great, their live shows are other worldly. So, obviously there was much dancing, singing and clapping along with youthful abandon, many beers consumed and toasts were raised to "Saint Joe Strummer". But, last night something magical happened that I have never seen at any show ever and can guarantee never will again (unless of course it becomes a Hold Steady ritual, which may be the case.)
Allow me to paint a picture...
The show ends and the lights go up and as people start to file out Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road" plays over the PA and if you're a Hold Steady fan, you're a Bruce fan so like second nature we all start singing along, but then none of us want to leave until the song's over so we all just kind of hang out and sing the song in unison. It's a sweet moment, a nice way to cap off a great show. Rob Sheffield's there singing with us and it's really nice. As the song is playing, many file out but a good number stay and we catch a glimpse of Franz Nicolay (the keyboard player for THS) on the balcony, so we direct our voices towards him and we are all BEST FRIENDS at this point. A bunch of music fans putting everything aside to just enjoy each other and the band we love. "Thunder Road" ends and then it gets crazy. The follow-up? "Rosalita."
To explain what happens next is not something that can be fully put into words. If you don't know, "Rosalita" is ten minutes of absolute joy and the moment we heard the opening bars, we weren't going anywhere. The remaining 60-75 of us have a sing-along dance party fueled by nothing but pure happiness. Smiles were plastered on our faces as we put our arms around each other and sang along, started a dance circle and acted like kids. The Hold Steady boys all congregated on the balcony with smiles as big as ours, singing along with us and taking pictures of all us old people acting like we did the first time we'd ever been to a show.
As the song ends The Hold Steady come out to the stage to wave goodbye and say thank you to us, with smiles as big as ours.
For one night, rock 'n roll was transcendent again.
Here's some video of the craziness. It's long and may not be as entertaining if you weren't there, but it's still nice to know it happened.