The Gaslight Anthem (concert review further below)

My favorite bands have always been the ones I grew up with: Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins, Third Eye Blind, a who’s who of 1990’s alternative rock mixed with the Classic Rock of my parents library.

Over the last year or so I have become aware and fallen in love with a…new band. That in itself is a miracle, as even though there is always a slew of new talent, everyone is subconsciously listening for music that speaks to them. A sound that hits your musical resonance and reverberates, filling your world. For me, this could not have struck more clearly than when I listed to The Gaslight Anthem.

They combine the fast paced tempos and memorable riffs of Green Day, with the poetic lyrics and subtle guitar genius of the Pumpkins. A perfect storm of pure rock that produces a sound, not unlike the essence of human emotion put to music.

I was lucky enough to meet Brian (Lead Singer) and Alex from the band at an intimate hour long acoustic show at CD101 this week, something that I could not have even dreamed of. After idolizing this band for a year (and having seen them twice in that period at The Newport Music Hall), needless to say I was as nervous as I was excited.

During the set, I couldn’t keep the grin off my face. I knew the songs they were playing, but hearing them, live only feet away from me, gave them a new meaning. I glanced over at Leslie James (CD101 DJ and host of the Big Room shows) at one point and she had the same grin on her face I did, and in that grin I saw love; pure and simple. The love of music in all it’s forms but especially as it poured out of the heart and mouth of this particular band, who above all things, just love to play.

And I realized that is what I have been missing in music. When you meet a band and they are the ones profusely thanking you for coming to see them, it says it all. So after the set, I told Brian that their music meant a lot to us, it was the only thing I could think to say that was true without seeming the over-zealous, obsessive fan.

But what I really wanted to tell them was, that I loved them: their music, their words, their attitude, the grin on their faces as they played, that same grin I had on mine while listening.

That night at the concert after they came back out for an encore, they proceeded to play 7 songs, after each one looking like they could end the show there and everyone would be happy, but they just kept going.

They are the new face of music to me, a mix of all the things that make it great. Each of their 3 albums has been different than the others, different and beautiful in their own unique way. They are the “sound of America” to me, as Springsteen was in his time, not to over due the Springsteen comparisons. They truly are American Slang.

And I hope as fame continues to be drawn to them, they always remember the love they have for the music, and the love it has back for them. But I know they will, this could not have happened to a more genuine or deserving band, and as they go forward I will be there with them, grinning all the way.

Actual Review of the 7/28 concert at The LC Pavillion

When I saw The Gaslight Anthem in March and October ’09, they only had two albums to pull material from. They would play some tracks off their lesser known “Sink or Swim”  featuring such songs as: “We Came To Dance”, “1930”, and “Boomboxes and Dictionaries”. This got general approval from the crowd, as many were unfamiliar with the bands earlier work but still appreciated the tempo and rhythm featured. What most were there for was to hear “The ’59 Sound”, the bands breakout song and album. They of course delivered this with their trademark energy and passion. The only problem with drawing from two albums was that each had an average run time of a scant 40 minutes to begin with. They made due of course and came through with some great covers (Tom Petty’s “Refugee” comes to mind) to fill some time.

That is why the show I saw this past week was different from the previous two. Now, with a newly released third album, “American Slang”, the band had a wider arsenal to choose from. They still played 75% of the  “The ’59 Sound”, along with a hand full from “Sink or Swim”. What really brought the crowd to a fervor you ask? “American Slang”. Surprisingly to me, those in attendance knew, and were more exited for, the songs from the fresh album. This goes against every concert cliche in history, with the typical fans shouting down the new and unfamiliar works for the classics they have come to love so dearly.

And while CD101 has played the first single “Boxer” at a very high volume (much to my enjoyment actually), this was not the only song the screaming masses knew. They hung on every chord, riff, chorus, and even bridge like it was something saintly demanding reverence. It speaks to how the band as evolved over three albums, offering something new and different each time around. As the evening drew to a close, the demanded encore instead of the usual 1-3 songs, went on for 7!  This included a quite good cover of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”, which needed less to say, reduced the older audience to a singing, screaming, group of teenagers.

All in all, the band played 25 songs and left the stage looking exhausted and blissful. Brian Fallon’s (the lead singer) parting words were something to the effect of, ‘I wish every show could be like this…I am taking a picture of you all in my head’. Words that could, from some, be considered contrite came out as perfectly honest. It was a great show as always, made even more so by the larger library of songs and dedication of the fans, which I am sure does not go unnoticed by a band who reflects their love right back, magnified ten fold.

Set List Courtisy of


Let me get this out of the way… I love(d) Weezer. That’s what makes their decent into mediocrity and worse so painful. There was nothing that I liked more than putting The Blue Album on replay and relaxing with some Mariocart 64 freshman year of college.

It is in my opinion, without a doubt, one of the greatest overall albums of all time. The sheer quantity of quality is staggering. I think you could argue there are no bad/weak songs on the cd, not to mention the countless hits.

And although this would be their greatest album as their debut, this was just the start of years of good music. Pinkerton was a fine follow up 3 years later and even The Green Album and Maladroit had their moments.

But in 2005 something started to happen. The band began to regress. Whereas during the Blue Album era the band was in their mid 20’s, now they were in their mid 30s and yet instead of getting better with age and perhaps more wise, there was a noticeable de-maturation in both lyrics and music.

“Beverly Hills” although a pop chart hit, seemed to be a slap in the face to traditional and loyal Weezer fans who couldn’t get over the ultra-pop-ified beat and inane lyrics. The only bright spot on that album was “Perfect Situation” which seemed to at least be a throw back to the songs of old, but this would be the last flicker of a dying flame.

And so here we are today, after suffering through The Red Album and Raditude, I am left questioning why I loved these pretentious misfits in the first place. I still listen to The Blue Album and other assorted singles but when I do, I cannot help but feel their degradation as a band tainting my listening experience.

Now at age 40, their lyrics are about cheesy camp romances, the coolness of being a troublemaker, and cliched phrases that don’t even make sense set to bouncy alternative pop minutia. And whether satirical or not, it has become so off-putting that I as a fan rush for the dial if anything of their’s post 2005 comes on the radio.

As is often the way of life, the greatest disappointment comes from watching those things you loved the most, decay and prostitute themselves in the effort to achieve some greater acclaim, that they may or may not have already secured a decade earlier.