28. The Hold Steady
Years active: 2004 - present Influenced: Bar band as a viable mainstream concept Hometown: Brooklyn, New York Jam: "Stuck Between Stations." Transience, pianos, lovelorn lyrics... The Hold Steady transport the listener directly into their world with tracks like this one.
It's not that the bar band ever went anywhere, necessarily. But when Craig Finn and Tad Kubler threw in the towel on their musical ambitions with the band Lifter Puller and diverted themselves with a classic rock project called The Hold Steady, it was awfully nice to have them back in the bar. Indie rock needed some guitar solos to counterbalance all the Postal Service bleepy-bloops and the Andrew Bird whistling. It needed bands without bow ties and string sections. It needed people who liked Oasis more than they liked Radiohead. The Hold Steady is a band about music—and the drinking, drugs and drama that so often accompanies it. Their music is a self-contained universe in which certain songs get scratched into our souls, in which the same kooks disappear and reappear, are lost and then resurrected. It turns the tiny frame of drunken misadventures in the Minneapolis hardcore scene into a canvas for massive existential exploration as well as massive nights. Whether as a direct influence or simply as an act reminding audiences of rock's beer-chugging beauty, The Hold Steady paved the way for bands like Titus Andronicus and Japandroids to continue keeping indie rock earnest without becoming too precious.