Excuse me if this seems a bit nostalgic: I first discovered Catch 22’s “Keasbey Nights” in the summer of 2001. Immediately taken by songs such as “Day In Day Out,” “On & On & On,” “Supernothing,” “Walking Away,” and “1234 1234”; it soon became one of my favorite albums. Unfortunately, the mastermind behind “Keasbey Nights”, Tomas Kalnoky, had left the band for art school as bass wizard Josh Ansley and Jamie Egan also departed as the current Catch 22 have failed to live up to the lofty expectations that come with their namesake. But in 2003 I once again discovered Streetlight Manifesto’s “Everything Went Numb” and was taken aback to those fond summer nights. So naturally, I was drawn to see Streetlight Manifesto on their tour and it would prove to be a memorable night.
One hour after doors had opened, two short teenagers passed by me on their way to the stage. Little did I know that two-thirds of Halfway To Nothing had graced my presence. Once onstage they wasted little time and broke into “Mr. Roger And Me,” a fast-paced punk song. Interestingly enough, Halfway To Nothing proved to be more than a bland Bad Religion clone as they managed to incorporate ska rhythms into several songs to accompany their other punk numbers. Despite their proficient performance, the band’s sound failed to be very innovative- the set’s closer’s mantra of “I hate everyone” seems was quite similar to the Adolescents’ nihilistic anthem “Creatures.” Nevertheless, as the PA sounded, the crowd pleaded an encore so Halfway To
Nothing returned for their finale, a song along the lines of “I hate my neighbors.”
Big D And The Kids Table began to set up their equipment and sound check for half an hour before Dave McWane shouted a series of “yeah’s” signaling the frantic opener, “Girls Against Drunk Bitches.” For the most part, those in attendance remained stationary taken aback at the song’s prevalent lack of ska or seemingly perplexed at Big D’s decision to open with a new song. But as “She Won't Ever Figure It Out” was given the live treatment, the crowd came to life upon hearing this catchy number as many danced, skanked, or bounced around in unison with Mr. McWane, whose recent injury failed to hamper his stage presence. Perhaps
Dave was invigorated by our lively enthusiasm as he expressed his preference for small, club shows while berating the Warped Tour due to “many shitty bands” who played on the tour. For the most part, Big D took requests rather than adhere to the stringent confines of a setlist so the slower, “Hey” and “Scenester” worked their way into the rotation. Whether playing old staples or requests, Big D maintained a high energy level throughout the course of their set as they jumped around the stage and played fast-paced ska. With eleven minutes left in their set (enough
time for “one Streetlight song,” as Dave joked), Big D played the second song off their new album, “L.A.X.”, a poignant anthem about the trials and tribulations of the music industry before closing things out with “Take Another Look.” Big D And The Kids Table managed to put on an energetic set and certainly won over many new converts.
Nevertheless, there was a palpable excitement among many old Catch 22 fans who have converted from fans of Catch 22 to Streetlight Manifesto as Jamie Egan walked about a row of microphones for sound check. Following a few brief tune-ups by Tomas and Josh, Streetlight Manifesto finally took to the stage to launch into an extended version of the adrenaline rush known as “If And When We Rise Again” complete with additional horn
solos. “Everything Went Numb” was played next as the band played with incredible energy with Jamie periodically pointing the microphone into the audience as everyone tried to keep up with the feverish pace. “Failing, Flailing” followed as the sheer power of the horn section’s vocals was displayed during the song’s
conclusion though many seemed a bit reluctant to sing along with Jamie, Daniel, Mike, and company. But “A Better Place, A Better Time” served as the night’s first true sing-along and arguably the set’s highlight as Tomas often paused from singing to allow us to
shout every word. From the slow bass intro to the chorus to the climatic finish, the audience was truly moved by this emotional, plaintive plea. “Point-Counterpoint” brought about a change in mood as people danced about to this “Keasbey Nights” sequel. In contrast, “A Moment Of Silence” slowed things down as Josh somehow managed to find himself in the audience perhaps as happy in the pit as the many fans who talked to him. Despite the slower nature of the song, everyone remained interesting chanting the song’s “whoa-oh’s” before Streetlight Manifesto returned to a breakneck tempo with “A Moment Of Violence.” “Here's To Life” was introduced a song by the BOTAR cover with “A Call To Arms” thrown in as the intro for good measure. Following Josh’s brief tease of “Bullet In The Head,” Tomas announced that “The Big
Sleep” would be their final song as a heartrending conclusion to the set. Whether the song is an ode to an old love or denunciation of war seems to be uncertain but it certainly was a powerful way to end the show. Following a short absence, Streetlight Manifesto came back for an encore as Tomas broke into (I kid you not) “1234 1234”...for about six seconds. He then stated, “That was just mean. This next song’s a sing-along so sing along. This song’s called ‘We Are The Few.’” Though in my opinion, “We Are The Few” would have worked better earlier in the set, it was nice to hear as Streetlight blazed through the number with precision and vigor. As soon as “We Are The Few” concluded, Tomas played the intro to “Better Than You” and with that, the show was over.
Streetlight Manifesto proved to live up to all of my expectations and exceed them. Weeks after this concert, I still remember that night as it’s engraved in my mind taking me back to a better place and a better time. But somehow, I still can’t seem to shake the metaphorical implications of the song, “Everything Went Numb.” Tomas and company might have been underdogs in an attempt to match the quality of their previous works. Though somehow, they were able to pull it off like the planning of a heist. Having stolen key members from Catch 22 and One Cool Guy, Streetlight Manifesto is not only just a terrific live band but quite possibly the perfect crime.
Halfway To Nothing
5:59 P.M.-6:24 P.M.
- Roger And Me
- Walking The Halls?
- All The Same
- We Love You All
- I Hate Everyone?
- I Hate My Neighbors (Encore)
Big D And The Kids Table
6:53 P.M.-7:33 P.M.
- Girls Against Drunk Bitches
- She Won't Ever Figure It Out
- Those Kids Suck
- Can't Be Caught
- Dirt Lip
- 5 Kids Down
- Take Another Look
7:56 P.M.-8:54 P.M.
- If And When We Rise Again
- Everything Went Numb
- Failing, Flailing
- A Better Place, A Better Time
- A Moment Of Silence
- A Moment Of Violence
- Here's To Life
Rage Against The Machine "Bullet In The Head" tease
- The Big Sleep
- "1234 1234" tease
- We Are The Few
- Better Than You