Published Nov 12, 2008The co-headlining "Rock and Roll Means Well" tour rolled through Toronto on Remembrance Day, an oddly appropriate date given the frequently backwards-looking nature of both bands lyrical and musical tendencies.
The tours alternating headlining spot was occupied on this night by Southern rock vets Drive-by Truckers, so things kicked off early with unexpected hipster darlings the Hold Steady and the ringing chords of "Stuck Between Stations. Its anyone guess how a bunch of very schlubby-looking guys from Minneapolis became the coolest kids on Pitchfork, but with four near-perfect albums in five years, their track record is almost unbeatable, and its no wonder their popularity continues to grow.
The nights set focused heavily on Stay Positive, the bands most recent (and most unexpectedly mature) full-length, leaving out some of the best of Boys and Girls in America, their 2006 breakout success. The sets most energetic moment came during "Stay Positive, eliciting a full-throttle sing-along from the capacity crowd at the Phoenix; there was a noticeable dip in interest, however, whenever the band would reach back to Almost Killed Me and Separation Sunday, which is a shame since early songs like "Most People Are DJs packed some of the most visceral punch of the night.
The bands set was powerful and passionate, but seemed to skip over some of the best of their brief but mighty discography.
Athens, GAs Drive-by Truckers followed with an equally varied and vitriolic set of bar rock, country rock, Southern rock, and numerous other kinds of rock. They were loud as fuck and it was pretty awesome.
To be quite frank, this reviewer is only really familiar with Decoration Day, but their set made me want to buy all their records and move my whole family to West Virginia to be poor and troubled. Rocknroll means well, and is well.