Ardsley Holds Steady

So, for as long as I’ve had this blog, in my little bio to the right I’ve stated my desire to see one of my favorite bands, The Hold Steady, come and rock out in Westchester. This past weekend—thanks to the Peak—not only did they come play the County, they performed in my home town. I guess I have to change my bio now. What should I wish for next, a Led Zeppelin reunion? (Let me know in the comments what concerts you long to see here, and I’ll pick my favorite suggestion and swap it in. Who knows? Maybe lightning will strike twice.)

It’s difficult to explain how surreal it was to see The Hold Steady in Ardsley. I lived there for 20 years, and in that entire time not one cool thing happened. Now that I finally moved out of my mom’s house, the Hold Steady came and played two feet away from her—at Life, The Place to Be, a funny-sounding venue that also didn’t exist when I lived there. (In fact, my mom was the one who told me about the show. She said, “The Hold Steady is coming to play in Ardsley at Life, The Place to Be,” and I looked at her and said, “I’m not sure what those words that you strung together mean, but I’m sure what you’re saying isn’t true.”)

After my mom’s words had been parsed and verified, I rounded up a crew of all AHS alums—people who had been used to commuting into New York City and Brooklyn to see The Hold Steady—and we all bought tickets to the show. (Happy Birthday, The Peak!) We all couldn’t stop talking about how strange it was: this space that was basically nothing for our entire lives was now full of arcade games, bowling, Captain Lawrence beer, and music. Then again, seeing everything through the incredulous eyes as a local had its perks: we couldn’t help but feel superior to all the people we overheard who couldn’t find the place or—gasp—mistakenly took the train to Ardsley-on-Hudson. (It’s not the same town, people.)

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The show was terrific—the crowd was into it and the space (as bizarre as it was to be there) had lots of room for everyone to get up front. The band played a lot of songs from my favorite of their albums, Separation Sunday, which, if you’re familiar with the lyrical content, is apt to play around Easter. (Example song title, which closed out the show: “How a Resurrection Really Feels.”) The best part: Since it was the first night of a new tour, the band debuted a few songs from their upcoming album, Heaven is Whenever. So yes, some of these songs were heard by the public for the first time ever in Ardsley, New York. It really tickles me to say that. In fact, someone put up a video of one of the new songs (found via stereogum []).

 I tried to find reactions to the show that weren’t from Ardsley locals. I couldn’t find a lot of gig reviews—I guess not many people were able to find our one-square-mile town. (I’ll choose to call it “exclusive” over “hard-to-get-to.”) From the few that I’ve found, not everyone was charmed by our picturesque village. Check out some of the anticipation/reactions from the band’s message boards:

*First up, a question was posed: “We’re from Baltimore so we don’t know the area. I know the place is Chuck-E-Cheese-esque but what is there to do in Ardsley, if there is something to do?” And its response: “Ardsley is 25 minutes from me and I have no idea what is there.” (Hmmm, you could go to one of our two Starbucks.)

*Next up, a complaint: “Also: I don’t remember what brand of beer was served, but it SUCKED. Good thing most of ours were free (I don’t think the girls working the cooler understood that they had to actually collect the drink tickets.)” (Hey! It was Captain Lawrence. But this person probably prefers something more PBResque.)

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*Via this blog, a slam about Ardsley’s remoteness: “[Life, the Place to Be] was indeed the place to be last night, but I would argue that’s the first and probably last time that’s been said about Ardsley.” (Fair point.)

*And finally, via this blog, someone else was a little freaked out by the arcade-game venue: “The venue reminded me of the typical Bar Mitzvah hangout spot. If you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all. Arcade games, Flat Screen TV’s, a bowling alley, and this big dancehall room. The crowd was super middle aged, like Moms and Dad’s who were definitely not in their early 30’s. Less bumping around, which provided for more of a Bar Mitzvah atmosphere. I was wondering when they were going to bring out the chair and start the horah.” (Keep waiting for that one.)

Were you at the show? What did you think? Any responses for these out-of-towners? Let me know in the comments—or suggest a favorite band that you wish would come play here for my new bio.

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