The Gaslight Anthem, with Dave Hause The Firebird July 13, 2012
By Allison Babka
In a huge win for St. Louis, Jersey rockers The Gaslight Anthem played an intimate, sold-out show at The Firebird. Supported by friend and collaborator Dave Hause, the band brought humor and energy to the hungry audience. Some highlights:
1. The Gaslight Anthem had the crowd in its hand from the first song, "Great Expectations." Without prompts from front man Brian Fallon, the audience attentively sang, clapped and swayed for nearly every tune -- exuberantly so for "Old White Lincoln," "The Backseat" and "Drive."
2. Fallon didn't directly address the audience until Gaslight Anthem's third song, "45," the lead single from upcoming album Handwritten. Having witnessed Fallon's charismatic storytelling several times previously, I was anxious about his lack of babble. I shouldn't have worried, because Fallon soon warmed up and became, in his own words, a "chatty Cathy." He claimed it was because of his Irish and Jewish background. "We drink and we talk."
3. Some Fallon nuggets: -- "Boy, St. Louis. Big Cardinals following here, huh?" -- "I saw your thing. You know, that thing you're famous for. [The Gateway Arch] Cool, man. I couldn't build it." And later, "Can you skateboard on it?" -- "Not for this ticket price, buddy!" [responding to an audience member asking if Bruce Springsteen would join them, as The Boss occasionally does] -- "A good one. That's what song's next." [responding to someone asking what's coming up] -- "I got signed to a major label. Gotta get some of that Jay-Z money!" [Gaslight Anthem recently left SideOneDummy for Mercury] -- "Wanna see some funk? [plays 70s chords] It's like porno music now." -- "There's no curfew, I promise! I won't play any less songs!" [after audience members wonder if they'll be shortchanged on music because of Fallon's chatter]
4. Throughout the evening, Fallon affectingly gestured and grinned wickedly while performing, both to his bandmates and to the audience. Watching him sing from his knees or shake his hands like an evangelist, you can't help but be drawn in by Fallon's heartfelt vomiting of emotion.
5. He seemed to particularly bond on stage with guitarist Alex Rosamilia, who sported a black hoodie with a giant skull on the back. They had more eye sex and wordless communication than Pujols and Yadi ever did.
6. The only song that didn't go over well with the audience was "Angry Johnny and the Radio" from 2007's Sink or Swim. While the floor still was crowded, many concertgoers decided to pee, grab a beer or visit the merch table during the tune.
7. The band left the stage at 10:24 p.m. and returned for their encore at 10:27 p.m. -- except it was more like a second set instead of an encore, as the show didn't end until about 11 p.m.
8. Gaslight Anthem saved the popular "The '59 Sound" for its second-to-last song, but because it fits in so well with most of the setlist, it didn't feel like they were doing the let's-keep-the-big-hit-for-the-end-of-the-show thing.
9. Fallon windmill-strummed power chords all night, culminating his Pete Townshend impression with a passionate "Baba O'Riley" during the encore. Fallon dove into the crowd for the final verse and emerged back on stage for a triumphant "They're all wasted!" Covered in sweat, he jumped around while his bandmates finished out the song, took an appreciative look at the still-wired audience, and exclaimed, "This is the best night ever! Thank you!" 10. Fallon and opening act Dave Hause both employed variations of the rakish-guy-who-cares-about-fashion-without-actually-caring-about-fashion plaid shirt look. Fallon's shirt flapped openly over a grey tee, while Hause's was fully buttoned and slim fitting. For this reviewer, Fallon was the winner.
11. The Firebird already was packed by the time opener Dave Hause took the stage around 8 p.m. Having seen Hause only with his punk band the Loved Ones, I was surprised that the crowd knew as many solo Hause songs as they did.
12. Hause paused between songs and said, "I don't know what I'm playing." An audience member to his right made a request, and Hause responded, "Yeah, I'll play that for you." Hause launched into the Loved Ones' "The Bridge" before playing "Pray for Tuscon" for the audience member and calling him out. "You're not even singing, man!"
13. Hause really didn't like following a playbook, as he later rolled his eyes and asserted, "Fuck it. I've got a playlist, but I'm just going to play whatever."
14. Imploring the audience to get their phone cameras ready, Hause prefaced Hot Water Music's "Trusty Chords" with "I didn't write this, but I like it."
15. Before his final few songs, Hause thanked the audience for coming early to see him. "There's a ton of other stuff you could be doing. Dining on calories or something. Watching TV. I don't know."
16. Hause brought out Gaslight Anthem's bassist Alex Levin and drummer Benny Horowitz for The Loved Ones' song "Jane," cautioning the audience with "We only rehearsed this once." A few minor missteps aside, I really couldn't tell.
17. PBR tallboys were the drink of choice at The Firebird, and audience members dutifully used them to salute both acts. At 9:51 p.m., I overheard one girl lamenting, "They ran out of cans." Pity.
Overheard: "How are you?" "Eh, went to a funeral today." Generally speaking, the audience was well behaved for both acts, listening raptly and pulling out their phones only for quick photos. This wasn't the typical douchebaggy texting crowd, to my happiness and amazement.