what The Hold Steady
when 8 p.m. tonight, May 18
where Stage Door, Orpheum Theatre, 216 State St. Madison
how much $16, sold out
At last night’s awesome The Hold Steady show, I met bassist Galen Polivka’s mom, Faye. Galen’s family was out full force to support the band’s Wisconsin dates (they perform in Madison tonight).
On the phone this morning, the 70-year-old retired schoolteacher from Whitefish Bay reviewed the show:
“I have seen The Hold Steady perform several times in Milwaukee and Madison, and they’re always good to me, because they always put on an excellent show. Even if I weren’t the bassist’s mother, I have learned to like a lot of young people’s music. I watch the audience as much as I watch the band. The audience gets so pumped!”
Yes, she used “pumped.”
Faye went on to compare last night’s crowd to the New York City show she saw at Irving Plaza, right before the release of “Boys and Girls of America.” “(The album) wasn’t even out yet, and the audience knew the songs. … When I looked at the crowd last night, it was just as good an audience,” she said.
(Check out the crowd surfer at the tiny Miramar dancefloor, and the party pit onstage, where the band invited audience members to hug it out at the last song.)
Galen doesn’t look it, but his mom confirms that he is 36, and that she had him at 33. The Polivkas were definitely a musical family: “I dragged him to Summerfest in a baby buggy, and I sang in choirs all my life,” Faye said.
She added, “(Growing up) he heard a lot of music. My parents owned a dance hall in Madison, and that’s where they’re playing now!”
Faye, who says her musical taste has expanded because of The Hold Steady, loves Bob Reitman‘s show “Don’t Worry Ma, It’s Only Music,” on WUWM-FM (89.7). She explained, “The Hold Steady’s first album was called ‘Almost Killed Me,’ and after I read those lyrics, it did almost kill me! I thought, what kind of drugs and alcohol was my son into?!? I calmed down after I called Galen.”
Still, her CD library would put yours to shame. She gets musical recommendations from all the music magazines The Hold Steady is mentioned in. “When you read these magazines, you get interested,” she said. “So I research them.”
Faye’s recent purchases include:
- The Shins, “Wincing the Night Away”
- The Decemberists, “The Crane Wife”
- Gnarls Barkley, “St. Elsewhere” — “I bought it because they and The Hold Steady were back and forth in being considered the best of 2006,” she said. “It was OK.”
- Arctic Monkeys, “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not”
- Nina Simone– “Craig (Finn, lead singer of the Hold Steady) makes so many references to pop culture, and Nina Simone was one of them. So I researched her and bought her albums. It had a DVD and took me back in time to my recollection of the ’40s and ’50s.”
- My Chemical Romance– “I bought a couple of songs off iTunes, but I don’t like them that much.”