Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Hold Steady - A Positive Rage, Part Two: The DVD

I've always been pretty ambivalent about The Hold Steady and their video presence. The video for Chips Ahoy seemed a remarkably bad treatment for a band that was just starting to come on people's radar. With all respect to Moh Azima, who is a nice guy and who tenured briefly in my old band Musclecar, it seemed just a little too flippant for a song that good. I much preferred his videos for The Swish and Stuck Between Stations. I'm not sure who did the video for Stay Positive, but that one is absolutely terrible. I smell Vagrant saddling them with a director. Those things summarily shat upon, I approached the idea of tour documentary with a bit of trepidation, but having met the guys and their crew, it would be hard to avoid capturing the magic that these guys have.

I'm pleased to report that A Positive Rage the documentary is pretty great. It's got the real feeling that Superchunk's Quest For Sleep tour doc has, without the post 9/11 dread. Finn often talks about the level of joy that the band maintains, to the point of it getting a little bit rote, but even after hearing it so many times, watching them live it's hard to refute that statement. Of course, The Hold Steady would have to be a sadsack band of Radiohead proportions to not be pretty happy. The doc captures the tour behind Boys And Girls In America where The Hold Steady really started to get a lot of press and play bigger and bigger rooms. European and US tours are both captured, both showing the band equally exhausted and exhilarated, missing home but realizing that they had a very special band on their hands. There are no full-songs, much less a full live set, but that's what the cd is for, besides there are other live Hold Steady DVDs to occupy you. With A Positive Rage, it's nice to have them both in a single package for a reasonable price. I wouldn't say that this would be my first Hold Steady purchase and if you're a fan you already have this, but for the average person A Positive Rage is better for your shut-in friends or parent you're trying to expose to The Hold Steady.


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