There had been a lot of conjecture about the best way to get Albany. As a result, I opted away from the Chinatown Bus option and went Greyhound, a mistake I shant make again. Got picked up by the lovely Lila at the bus station and headed to Lark Tavern for many pints. Ran into Tess and a gang of other old school Albany kids and caught up with L, then headed over to Valentines to pre-game. Mike hooked up the ticket and I posted up barside and caught up with Howard and the usual gang, then headed upstairs.
Valentines upstairs is pretty small. Much smaller than I remembered, but this time I was a lot more drunk. The room reminds me a lot of the old Wetlands. It didn't seem to be as rowdy a crowd as the night before, but I wasn't as front and center as I usually was for social reasons.
It was a good set, although opening with You Gotta Dance is always going to get points at JS-NYC headquarters.
The Hold Steady are no strangers to a deep cut or two. Given that they have only released four full-lengths, they can't afford to be stingy with the b-sides. The gents aren't ones to rest on their laurels either. Hey, if it gets me Milkcrate Mosh in the set, I'm for it. Yeah Sapphire popped up as well, as you might be able to see from the photo to the left (that was stolen from Lowden11 on the HS board, incidentally). I understand there are two more unreleased tunes that will be appearing on the A Positive Rage CD/DVD set that's dropping on Tuesday, but neither of them have popped up in any of the East Coast sets that I'm aware of. I'm intrigued to hear if they are as good as the b-sides from Stay Positive. I'd venture that's it's too late to get in on the pre-order, but pick it up here on Tuesday.
Having already almost lost my bag at Lark Tavern, I succeeded in leaving my regular touring sweatshirt at the Valentine's, one inaugurated in the hard trenches of Chicago around the turn of the century (and one that Kid Congo Powers chatted about at length with me about, for chrissakes, oops did I drop something?). Staggered back to Steven's at an hour I can't remember and got the royal treatment, including car service to the nightmarishly silly Albany bus station at 9am with one of the larger hangovers I've had in recent years. Far better treatment than I deserved, if only as it lulled me into a false sense of relative comfort that only poorly managed bus transport can ruin.
Shitty bus employees aside, all respect due to Mike for the hookup for the ticket and Steven for the hospitality, Lila for the pick-up and Annie for the drop-off, as well as to the Brothers Johnson for making things their usual good time. Apologies to any old friends I may have missed or slighted in my whirlwind stay. Of course, all kudos to the men and women of The Unified Scene, a crew as good as you're going to get at a rock show. If you're going to have a rock show that doesn't involve Superchunk and/or The Figgs, you can do profoundly worse than The Hold Steady. They are a true force. We are lucky to have them. See you at the shows in June!