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Gaslight Anthem / Murder by Death: live in Brooklynlive in Brooklyn (2009)
Side One Dummy Records
Reviewer Rating: 4
Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)
Brooklyn Bowl is a new venue nestled near Bushwick and Williamsburg, and it's much more than a mere space for bands to play. Like a hipper, less corporate-meeting-oriented Dave & Busters (god, that Always Sunny sponsored episode was ridiculous), the place was incredibly spacious and polished. There .
Brooklyn Bowl is a new venue nestled near Bushwick and Williamsburg, and it's much more than a mere space for bands to play. Like a hipper, less corporate-meeting-oriented Dave & Busters (god, that Always Sunny sponsored episode was ridiculous), the place was incredibly spacious and polished. There was a special roped-off dining area; a full bar offering a good handful of cool brews beyond the standard Budweiser and Heineken fare; mammoth-sized, giant-screen TVs lining the dimly lit walls (convenient for Yankee fans that night); and, of course, an endless parallel of bowling lanes bathed in neon light, sitting sort of perpendicular to the fairly intimate, barricade-less stage and floor area. It seemed like a great place to see a show as long as you resisted the urge to stage-dive (strategically placed security staff ensured no one stood a chance).
Murder by Death then blessed the crowd with a nearly 50-minute set, so I was actually a little sore when it ended with so little played from my favorite album of theirs, 2006's In Bocca al Lupo. Even then, their rendition of "Brother" was a stuttered and oddly sharp, staccato one. But the standards off Who Will Survive, And What Will Be Left of Them? were gravelly great and, of course, thematically whiskey-soaked, per the usual, and the more melodic and memorable material from last year's Red of Tooth and Claw (set opener "Ball & Chain," "Comin' Home" and closer "Spring Break 1899") was enjoyable. Their elements were coalescing nicely and few sour notes -- if any -- could be heard.
Set list (9:33-10:20):
Brian Fallon handled the heckling from these fellows well, too. One guy called him gay; another told them they sucked, or something along those lines. Fallon answered with passive, sarcastic responses, hitting on bassist Alex Levine in response to the former and exclaiming to the latter, "Hey, you like pizza?? I like pizza!! We should totally hang out!!"
Frankly, though, it was hard to feel too jilted by the frat-like front-and-center crowd because the band played so well while the proclivities of mooktivity presided. Fallon's yearning voice and the dynamically toned guitars all came through clearly and that seemed pretty key to the successful mix of stuff played from all the band's releases. The only glaring omission from the set list was "I Coulda Been a Contender," but their dramatic turn and intense delivery of "We Came to Dance" was easily one of the highlights of the whole night. The covers were also integrated expertly; "State of Love and Trust" (Pearl Jam) is starting to sound like it'd have been a perfect addition to the well-received Señor and the Queen EP. Oh, and "Trusty Chords"??? Fuck yeah! It killed the mood for the bros, but the flannel punks and hardcore kids were stoked and BB staff had to scramble to prevent pile-ons from spilling over onto the stage.
Fallon also interestingly dropped the guitar and sauntered around the stage weirdly hunched over, making for a funny frontman during "Old White Lincoln" -- but also an engaging one, riding the end of the stage where the throngs of fans were awkwardly angled over. If there were crowd-surfers, they were simply pushed back into the pool of people on the floor by venue staff.
Considering they played nearly an hour and a half with just two full-lengths and an EP to their name, can one ask much more of the Gaslight Anthem? Well...maybe a really selfish hope to stop blowing up so damn hard.
Set list (10:49-12:00):
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