New Jersey's Gaslight Anthem has made great strides in the past few years. It's gone from trekking around the country in a beat-up van, to cruising in style in a full-blown tour bus. It's gone from moving modest units on a small punk label (XOXO Records), to cracking the Billboard Top 20 with its newest full-length, American Slang (SideOne Dummy Records). And as frontman Brian Fallon graciously pointed out, just last September it was playing the small stage of the partitioned-off Pop's (Sauget, IL), while last night it was rocking out to a damn-near sold-out crowd.
With Tom Petty's "The Waiting" appropriately blaring through the house PA, spirits and anticipation were high as the band saddled up onstage. Wasting no time, Gaslight ripped into Slang's title track -- and with that, Jersey's working man's rock troubadours were off and running. For the next two hours, the four-piece showcased its economical brand of soulful punk tunes, taking very few breaks to catch their breath.
While none of the songs sounded flat, the band's newer songs showcased its sturdy chops and musical depth. Upon first listening to Slang's "Diamond Church Street Choir," one had to wonder if Fallon would be able to pull off that same bellowing vocal range live. He quickly put those concerns to rest by nailing every note with ease. Guitarist Alex Rosamilla's woozy guitar style sounded great in the mix -- and while he didn't stop riffing the whole night, he had to set a record for most songs played without strumming a chord.
The real showstopper of the night came halfway through the set when Rosamilla launched into the ever-so-distinct opening riff of "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues." Fallon's prophetic howl reminded fans why the Springsteen comparisons are often thrown around, and the crowd yelled right along with him. Other highlights included the stripped down sing-along, "Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts," and a cover of Pearl Jam's "State of Love and Trust."
Tim Barry opened up the show to a decent-sized crowd of interested fans. Anyone who's seen Barry before knows that he likes hop off the stage and belt out his acoustic, folky punk tunes among the crowd on the floor. Last night was no exception; however, this time it was partly out of necessity due to some on-stage technical difficulties.
Chamberlain filled out the middle slot and while the band sounded tight enough, its set of mid-tempo alternative emo numbers seemed a little out of place. The recently reunited Midwesterners (Bloomington, IN) managed to get a cheer from the audience, though, when they gave a shout out to those who saw them at Bastille's roughly ten years ago. For the most part though, they served as filler, which was a mild disappointment, considering Gaslight is known for bringing great supporting acts with them on the road.
Gaslight Anthem setlist:
American Slang Old White Lincoln We Came to Dance Diamond Church Street Choir Boxer Even Cowgirls Get the Blues Bring it On Miles Davis & the Cool Wherefor Art Though, Elvis? The '59 Sound Old Haunts Stay Lucky Angry Johnny and the Radio The Queen of Lower Chelsea Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts Great Expectations
Encore: Casanova Baby! State of Love and Trust (Pearl Jam cover) Here's Lookin' at You, Kid The Backseat