My review was going to be titled “Fuck Gaslight Anthem,” but alas, it is not. Nor should it be. The last time I saw the band kind of killed them for me for a while, they played well, but they gave off a rockstar vibe that just didn’t sit well with me. Then American Slang came out and it was (is) solid. Very solid. I started to get excited about Gaslight Anthem again. American Slang was the in-your-face indication that this band is still on its way up and is the real deal. After that, the video for “American Slang” was released featuring nothing but New York City imagery. What the hell? It felt like a slap in the face. Moving from NJ isn’t a big deal and writing some songs about NYC, especially when you’re from a state squished between two major cities, isn’t either. That stuff is totally cool with me, but it felt like Gaslight Anthem had turned their backs on New Jersey and no song about Andy Diamond and The Court Tavern was going to be enough to convince me otherwise. New Jersey isn’t just where the Gaslight Anthem is from, it’s who they are and what made them what they are. This was always something they embraced, but I I didn’t feel that way anymore. It wasn’t that they weren’t putting Jersey front and center anymore, it was that they dropped it and replaced it.
Now last night, the band came out to Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” and Fallon was wearing a Yankees shirt–on its own, who cares, if you’re from Central or North Jersey, you’re probably a Yankees or Mets fan–but with everything else…yikes. This immediately felt like a second slap in the face. I felt all the sincerity this band had just disappear. And that’s saying a lot for me because I’ve always felt that their music oozes sincerity more than just about any other band out there.
At this point, I was really thinking about how I was going to say “fuck this band” and that wasn’t helped much when Fallon had someone else play second guitar just so he could hold the mic stand with two hands while singing on a few songs.
I stand by most of these feelings, but still I have to say, damn, this band writes some great songs and damn do they know how to play them on a stage. They were absolutely great. They really were. Despite everything else, the sincerity was still there and the passion for the music was as strong as ever.
The set was long, over an hour and a half. My knees were hurting, but I was still enjoying every second. The band ripped through almost everything they have spanning every release under the Gaslight name. It was impressive how much they got through and how much they didn’t neglect Sink or Swim except a few of the songs you would have expected them to play. In fact, just about the only songs they didn’t play from Sink or Swim, besides the acoustic ones, were the expected standards. “Red in the Morning” was even followed up by a comment from Fallon saying how he thought it sounded like it should be a song by The Bronx. This was a comment that about ten people in the crowd actually got. I looked around, no one knew what he was talking about. It was awesome.
Honestly, Gaslight Anthem was seriously solid last night. Seriously.
Now, Frank Turner…well, I would have liked to see more than I did. Thanks to an ever-late friend, we got there in time to only see a few songs, but he sounded awesome. Frank Turner is the kind of opener that I would gladly pay to see headline and I’m hoping that I get the chance soon.
The outdoor stage at the Stone Pony was surprisingly decent as well. There was a nice breeze and the sound, while not great, was good enough. It was a serious set up and I think I enjoyed it more than I would have inside. However, they were charging $20 for parking which is ridiculous. We drove three blocks down the road and parked for free near Asbury Lanes. I would suggest anyone going to other shows this summer there do the same.
And below are a few cellphone pics that all look the same. I tried and failed to get the DSLR in.
PS: A friend mentioned something about Brian being sick of the Springsteen comparisons, but I say that’s a load of crap, if you don’t want to be compared to Springsteen, don’t sound so much like him. Easy solution.
PPS: Contrary to the rumor going around before the show, Springsteen did not come out and play with them.