Some Pitchfork bands seem out of place on the mammoth festival stage, better suited for a dingy club. Other bands fit it perfectly on the grand stage. There are very few bands whose songs, attitude, and delivery would suit both a bar, basement, party or festival stage.
The Hold Steady proved they were one of those bands. Four albums into its collective career, the members of the band were right at home Saturday on Pitchfork's Aluminum Stage.
"Let's build something this summer," said THS frontman Craig Finn about 7 p.m. Finn, pointed, danced and perched himself on the edge of the stage, leaning over the pit of photographers.
The band exploded into "Constructive Summer," the first song on its recently released Stay Positive LP. The very next song was "Sequestered in Memphis," the next song on Stay Positive. I won't get into an album review of Stay Positive here, but given its seminal quality, I'd bet The Hold Steady could be performing the entire thing, start-to-finish, at a Pitchfork Music Festival years from now.
Finn squinted into the setting sun, due west on the horizon, for the early part of the set, but he and the emotive THS band members -- keyboardist Franz Nicolay comes to mind, as he pointed to the sky between notes -- began their set with high energy songs.
The band sprinkled in its slower ballads throughout their latter portion of their set and the sun had nearly set when they finished. About 100 yards to the west, Jarvis Cocker and his band were readying themselves for their set.
Before the set, guitarist Tad Kubler talked about being monumentally drunk during the band's '05 Pitchfork set, and about its '80s hardcore references on "Stay Positive." Read that short interview.
Correction appended: The second song of the set was "Hot Soft Light." I regret this error!