I've had many nicknames - some good (The Kid, T Kid, Teek), some bad ("jackass"... thanks Feeney, "sink man") some both ("music enthusiast", "chief"), but none that I've held onto more dearly (at least for the last 60 hours) than "Iron Man", if only because a) it doesn't fit and b) it was fueled solely by my cheery intake of several Oliver Ironman Pale Ales during a time honored version of let's give everyone a nickname at dinner game. It's a game I like to play all the time so if I've tagged you (Reeber, Doctor, T Mahn, Jooooooey P, Pinhead, J Johnny Mezz, The Most Intense Man in America, Nooseball, Zeke, Baby, Jackass... again), I'm sorry.
This particular game took place at The Wharf Rat, a pleasant little beer and sandwich joint a few blocks away from Camden Yards and more importantly this night, several blocks from Ram's Head Live, a good sized rock club set down in the Inner Harbor's outdoor version of a suburban mall. The event - The Hold Steady returns to the stage either a) following the release of their latest masterpiece Stay Positive or b) preceding the release of their latest masterpiece Stay Positive. In 2008, release dates are fluid and this crowd most definitely has chosen a), as either the unofficial internet leak or the official itunes leak ($9.99 for files... PT Barnum lives!) has imbedded the new songs directly in the bloodstream and it's evident this crowd believes that "The sing-along songs will be our scriptures"... and sings/shouts/scream the lyrics to every song.
I won't beat you over the head with another Hold Steady valentine, but suffice it to say that any show that starts with these four songs ("Constructive Summer", "You Can Make Him Like You", "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" and "Banging Camp") immediately vaults itself into consideration for show of the year. Yes, they're that good and they're coming soon to a mid-sized bar near you. Go forth and be saved.
From the last strain of "Killer Parties", it's minutes before we head back up 95 in the "no roadies" car (ed. note: Rigby deserves a medal) as my two compatriots are probably carrying on an enlightening conversation about either architectural landscaping or bone biology. Me, I'm doing what I do best in a moving vehicle... sleeping (sorry about that, guys). Home at 2:30 and up at 6:45 (thank you beer pee!) to get Zeke home (nice move with the house alarm, by the way). My god - people actually have lives where they arise before 7:00 on the weekends and do things. I find that appalling.
So in quick order there's a short nap, two hours of tennis in 90+ heat, a trip to the pool, a nice dinner, a quick thought of another Hold Steady show in Philly that night (family member to me - "DAD... you're going out AGAIN! I thought we were gonna watch a movie."), a viewing of 10,000 B.C. (possibly the worst movie of the 21st century with the added insult of not being hilariously awful), followed by a show at The Khyber with local kids The Writers Club, A.A. Bondy and The Delta Spirit, who I will gush about in a soon to be written future post. Not now, though, it's bedtime. (But if you like a soulful mix of The Black Crowes, Ryan Adams and Oasis with some anthemic gang-style choruses, stay tuned.)
But to bring this story full circle, after another grueling two hours of tennis Sunday morning, I took my son and a couple of his buddies to see Iron Man, a perfect mix of smashing and exploding stuff, middle east paranoia and a supremely confident, star making (again) turn from Robert Downey, Jr. where, in the movie's final seconds (warning - spoiler alert!!), utters the four words that define the weekend...