Steel Train played their last foreseeable show at Bowery Ballroom last night to a sold-out crowd of passionate, if outspoken fans. Lead singer/guitarist Jack Antonoff is also the guitarist for Fun, a side project that became much more when they hit number one with "We Are Young" and garnered six Grammy nominations. With Fun's popularity on the rise, Steel Train booked the Bowery gig to give fans another chance to see them, sold it out in a matter of hours, and added a show at Maxwell's the day before.
I first heard of Steel Train when I was at NYU in 2004. I was shooting a documentary on a dancer, and she recommended them to me as a jam band. I downloaded some tracks, and even used their cover of "I Want You Back" in the video. I had that covers EP, the For You My Dear EP, and their debut album Twilight Tales from the Prairies of the Sun, but I have to admit I lost touch with them after college. When I heard that Jack was joining a band called Fun with Nate Ruess of the Format, I couldn't even fathom what that would sound like, imagining him to still be playing noodling riffs and Santana-inspired solos. As it turns out, over the past few years, Steel Train had completely revamped their sound to power pop with a generous helping of "oh oh oh" choruses thrown in to get the crowd shouting along. Antonoff all but abandoned his guitar virtuosity, and even changed his voice, pouring in a little whine.
Jack and the boys kicked things off as they do on their most recent eponymous album, with the one-two punch of "Bullet" and "Turnpike Ghost." After "Kill Monsters in the Rain" from 2007's Trampoline, some crowdmembers used the break to shout song titles and gibberish. Antonoff tried to carry a conversation with them, but it proved pointless: "
"Road Song" led into "I Feel Weird," followed by the jumpiest song about OCD ever, "Touch Me Bad." All the '80s babies rocked out to "Children in the 90s" and then to a song before their time:
STEEL TRAIN - 01.05.13 - BOWERY BALLROOM (1 hour, 28 minutes)
Bullet > Turnpike Ghost / Kill Monsters in the Rain / You Are Dangerous > Alone on the Sea / Dakota > A Magazine > Road Song > I Feel Weird > Touch Me Bad / Better Love / Children in the 90s (I'm Not the Same) / American Girl > You & I Undercover / Fall Asleep / Firecracker
Black Eye > S.O.G. Burning in Hell