- Sit at home munching on spinach dip watching the ball drop
- Travel to New York City and stand in the cold watching the ball drop
- Go out and see some great music
I decided to go with option 3. The Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, New Jersey had booked two great bands. Alternative Country band Lucero would be opening the show, followed by Alternative rock band The Hold Steady. Who could ask for more?
I arrived at the Wellmont at 8pm, just as the doors opened. For those who have never been the Wellmont, it is located on Seymour Street in the downtown section of Montclair. It is a great venue to see a show. There is plenty of parking around, and the staff is very accommodating. Even you had gotten a seat ticket in the balcony section; you could still go downstairs to the general admission area and get a little bit closer to the stage.
At 9pm, one of the worst comedians I had ever heard opened the show. After sitting through 30 minutes of torture, Lucero finally hit the stage to start the evening's festivities. Lucero got the night off to a rocking start, with a mix of a great horn section and electric guitars; it was the perfect band to open the evening. The crowd was dancing to the music and singing along, some not even knowing the lyrics.
After an hour set, Lucero left the stage. As The Wellmont Theatre staff prepared for The Hold Steady, many patrons, including myself, made for the restrooms and the bars stationed around the theatre.
At 11:30pm, the lights dimmed and the music from Star Wars began to play from the speakers. Lights flashed and many in the crowd were wondering what the heck was going on. All of a sudden, The Hold Steady walked on to the stage to resounding applause. Before the set began, Craig told the crowd that he would be watching the clock on his iPhone. He wanted to lead the entire crowd in the countdown to the New Year.
The band opened the set with Hurricane J, a selection from their most recent release, Heaven is Whenever. Craig Finn worked his magic with the crowd, dancing around and getting as close as possible to the fans. The crowd loved it, and so did the rest of the band, as they responded with loud guitars and great drumming from Bobby Drake.
At one minute before midnight, the band stopped and brought out all the members of Lucero, including the horn section. Craig led the countdown, and everybody screamed Happy New Year! The Hold Steady and Lucero then led everyone in Auld Langs Syne. After that, Craig Finn thanked the crowd for being there. As Craig explained, the band had wanted to do this type of show for almost 8 years. I can tell you, it was worth the wait.
The only down point came a few minutes after midnight. As the band was playing, a patron collapsed in the general admission area. As security rushed to assist, Craig Finn saw what was happening and signaled the band to stop and to turn the house lights on. The band then played a soft tune as the Police and EMT's tended to the injured patron. The band then took a five minute break to allow the first responders to have clear communication. Everyone around me agreed that this a very classy thing The Hold Steady did. It really showed that the care about their fans. Fortunately, the patron was able to get up and walk out to the ambulance, to the applause from the entire venue.
For the rest of the early morning, it was nothing but great rocking music from The Hold Steady. The band played well after 1am, and even came back on for an encore.
This by far was one of the best concerts I had ever seen, and a great way to kick off 2013. I hope that this is the start to another year of great live music, including the Centenary Blues Bash in March and WNTI Stage in August.
For more information on The Wellmont Theatre, please visit http://www.thewellmonttheatre.com