Last week, Ed C and I went to London for an afternoon of beers in and around Camden, followed by an evening with The Hold Steady at Electric Ballroom in Camden. Four years ago this week, we did the exact same thing.
This was no coincidence. For the past four years (with the exception of 2021 due to the pandemic) The Hold Steady have been playing an annual ‘Weekender’ of shows in London, with Friday and Saturday night at Electric Ballroom and a smaller Sunday set elsewhere in the city. It was born out of them doing a similar thing in the US as an alternative to going out on month long tours.
The whole concept works very well and there is a feeling when you’re at these shows that you’re surrounded by hardcore THS fans. To many friends, Ed and I, would appear to be on that level with this band, in truth, these shows do make me feel more of a casual observer, but a welcome one at that.
The great thing is you don’t get people drifting to look at their phones or wondering whether they’ll play a big hit next. There’s plenty of other bands I love who I’d like to get a similar quality of experience with.
A memory from right before this show in 2018 that we still laugh about now, is how, in our mad rush to get dinner, we ended up crashing someone’s birthday party. Camden was busy and a table in the corner of a bar set aside for the private event was all we could find that would ensure we’d be able to eat and get to the venue in time for the band’s set.
In an attempt not to be found out (and thrown out) we’d occasionally raise a glass to other people in the same vicinity, nod and smile. Eventually we caught someone giving us a suspicious eye. This person was sat alone at an adjacent table. As it turns out, they were also a party imposter!
Back in 2022, we were sat in the same bar and noticed staff putting up reserved signs for the exact area. Given the dates, there must be a chance it was the same group?