You Gotta Stay Positive

Warning: Drunk posting ahead. 

(Also? My husband and I are at home in our living room, with our laptops, blogging at the same time. Yes, we’re dorks.)

We just got back from seeing The Hold Steady at First Avenue. And I had to type that sentence about 5 times. I’m not kidding. Oh, vanilla bourbon, you do bad things to me. 

The show was so awesome. I wanted Craig Finn to lead us to the promised land and he took us there. They started with “Positive Jam” and went right into “Constructive Summer.” Then they proceeded to play a bunch of songs from their most recent release (“Stay Positive”) and songs from their back catalog, and it all was fantastic. This is the world’s best bar band, but they’re able to play any bar they want, anytime, in any city. But they’re not just some random band in the background you can talk over while you drink. This band commands your attention and demands that you rock with them. And we did, and we completely enjoyed ourselves, and so did everyone around us. 

I know the alcohol I consumed beforehand helped in my enjoyment of their set, like when they launched into the first song and I could feel the music pumping through my arteries, but I’d enjoy their music even when sober (and I do). 

When we saw the band play at the State Theater last year (and I know I’ve mentioned this before, somewhere), it was like seeing a bar band in a theater setting. Everyone was standing, raising drinks, and having a good time. That was repeated at First Avenue tonight, except we were in an actual club. The Minnesota references went over well, as expected, but the driving force of the music carried us all on an amazing wave. They have a great way of communicating to the audience and relating to them, yet uniting all of us in the religion of rock. And short of Springsteen (whose influences they wear proudly), this is about as close to a religious experience as it gets. 

They played all my favorite songs from the recent album (“Constructive Summer,” “Stay Positive,” “Lord I’m Discouraged,” “Sequestered in Memphis”) plus all the other songs I wanted to hear (“Chips Ahoy,” “Southtown Girls,” “Massive Nights,” “Party Pit”). Incidentally, the last song seems to be my personal anthem tonight (“gonna walk around and drink some more, gonna walk around and drink”), and I’ll be carrying it out in Vegas soon, although probably not in the Harrah’s Party Pit because there are too many people selling timeshares nearby and they probably have 6:5 blackjack at limits higher than I’d want. (Anything at 3:2 and $5 or less, I’m in.) But the “walk around and drink” part? A lot. In every Strip casino south of Wynn. 


Set list (to be replaced by an actual set list later):

Positive Jam

Constructive Summer

That Song That Is Awesome

Oh My God, I Love This Song

Oh, This Song Is So Awesome

This Is My Favorite Song Off the New Album

This Is My Favorite Song From their Back Catalog

I Love This Song

Holy Crap, This Song Is Great

I Love This Song Too

Yes! They’re Playing This One!

Hooray! This Song Is Awesome!

Woooo! Yeah!

Sorry, Dude, I’ll Move a Couple Steps Forward Because Your Beer Is Digging into my Back

Sorry, Dude in Front of Me, Didn’t Mean to Bruise your Arm with my Rock Gestures




Seriously, This Is Awesome!!!


Edited to add the real set list, courtesy of’s Pop Life blog:

Positive Jam

Constructive Summer

Sequestered in Memphis

Stay Positive

The Swish

One for the Cutters

Party Pit

Massive Nights

Yeah Saphhire

You Can Make Him Like You

Southtown Girls

Lord I’m Discouraged

Stuck Between Stations

Chips Ahoy!

Your Little Hoodrat Friend

Ask Her for Some Adderall

Certain Songs

History Lesson, Pt. 2 (Minutemen cover w/ altered lyrics)

Slapped Actress


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One Response to “You Gotta Stay Positive”

  1. dslifton Says:

    That’s the same set list as the Bruce show at the Xcel. Except Bruce added, “Are you fucking kidding me?”

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