It’s hard to be a mid-level band playing the smallest club in a three-venue complex. When Steel Train visited Atlanta two months ago in support of The Hush Sound, the sizable crowd at The Loft got rowdy and excited for the New Jersey indie rockers. But Wednesday night at Vinyl, the band braved a fluctuating, but never very large, audience, an annoyingly talkative pocket of people by the bar, and soundproofing that just couldn’t keep out the epic double kick drum sound of Opeth playing next door at Center Stage.
You might expect me to tell you that the boys of Steel Train handled the distractions like consummate professionals. Instead they did better; they handled it like they were playing in their living room for a few of their close friends. They took off their shoes and slammed around the stage in their socked feet. They joked with us about the heavy metal shaking the walls. By the encore, frontman Jack Antonoff was sharing embarrassing tour stories, and making silly puns about the train "derailing" when the band started laughing during "Road Song." But all the while, the music was tight and the beat was steady. They never let their antics get in the way of playing their songs exactly as they should: passionately, energetically, and with a swagger tempered by sweet smiles.
Hopefully, as Steel Train continues their career, nights like this will turn into coveted live show stories for the band’s dedicated fanbase — you know, the ones that begin, "I saw them play this tiny club in Atlanta back in 2008…"
Photos by Jenny Hofsetter.