“What the fuck does ‘American Slang’ mean?” is what I should have been asking myself on the train ride to Penn Station, but instead I fell asleep [Probably the cultural dialect and non-English idioms used by everyday Americans - Educated Guess Editor]. It took me by surprise when I found out that this show sold out in five minutes but it shouldn't have. I was disappointed to know I didn't have a ticket when I heard, but I figured Ticketmaster would put a few more up for sale as it got closer to the date. As it turned out, I was right and I was lucky enough to get one the day before the show. Something I did think about on the train ride was how they seemed to be trying to keep the night reasonably intimate; the last times they played in New York, they played a 3,000-person venue and then a 600-person bowling alley the next night, and the Fillmore holds 1,200. It was also the first genuinely sunny day I had seen in about a week of permanent gray so I thought it funny that it should be that day that I was seeing Gaslight.
I downloaded it when it leaked and got my physical copy of American Slang a few days before the show so I was familiar with and very much liked the new material but I was unsure of what to make of it as an album. I had similar thoughts about The ’59 Sound until I heard those songs live, so I was anticipating the same effect that night. When I got there, I stood on line, looked at what the bands had at their merch tables, refused to buy an $8 beer and talked with my friend for a little over an hour; and then Tim Barry walked on stage at 8:00 sharp.
I had seen him play before but I never picked up Manchester or 28th and Stonewall so I wasn't expecting to know much of his set, but it didn't matter. Early on in the set, he dedicated “Moving on Blue” to anyone who was having relationship problems and then moved onto “Idle Idylist” and “Church of the Level Track,” which I recognized immediately. He prefaced the former by saying that he hadn't worked since January and that he loves that he keeps traveling and that got some cheers. “Prosser’s Gabriel,” the centerpiece of his set, if only because of the fairly extensive story behind it, went over the best. Tim said that on the 210th anniversary of Prosser’s lynching, he was going to play an illegal show on the Virginia Commonwealth College parking lot that now covers the slave graveyard he was buried in and that he fully expects to go to jail for it. The crowd cheered that too and he rounded out the set with “Dog Bumped,” and at 8:30, I bought those two albums that I didn't have.
No sooner did my friend and I come back to the floor than did Rival Schools start playing. They were a band I knew next to nothing about, although I overheard someone next to me say that they just recently got back together. It sounded to me like were big fans of the Promise Ring, the Get Up Kids and Radiohead, so how they got tagged as a post-hardcore band is beyond me [Because their singer/guitarist, the illustrious Walter Schreifels, formed this band some time after he played in a hardcore band. Hence, "post-hardcore." - Obvious Answer Editor]. But in any case, I thought they were boring and it didn't look like the rest of the crowd was too enthused either. The highlight of their set was when the singer asked if anyone had World Cup fever, and then if anyone could name one person on the U.S. team. They played for about 40 minutes and left the stage when the room was full.
So we all waited and at 9:45, Gaslight opened up with their set with “American Slang” and “Old White Lincoln.” Brian said they were excited to be playing because it was the first time most of the new songs were being played in a live setting. They then continued to play American Slang in its near-entirety with few stops and amidst the shouts from the crowd for them to play earlier songs, “Orphans” was introduced as a song about where the band was from and where they were going, and Side 2 of the album didn't let up, short one song.
“We Came to Dance” ushered in the end of the set and was followed by the always energetic “Great Expectations,” though Alex Rosamilia botched the intro before telling the crowd he was sorry and re-starting it. “Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts” was played in typical fashion and ended the first set leaving the crowd waiting for the encore.
The only complaint I have about the band’s live shows--besides (and I guess this is maybe a hometown crowd thing) the shouting at Brian during breaks between songs so you can barely hear him talk--is the fairly complacent set list. Granted, I've seen them a few times and they’re a young band but I've yet to hear “Red in the Morning” or “Red at Night” played, and it feels like it’s been ages since I heard “I Coulda Been a Contender,” but Sink or Swim got its due in the encore. After “The Navesink Banks,” they tore through definite fan-pleasers “Drive” and “Wooderson” and then some more ’59 Sound material. After “Here’s Looking at You, Kid,” I was sure “The Backseat” would close the show, but instead we got what looked like a spontaneous version of “Seńor and the Queen,” which was especially fun to hear. Then “The Backseat” was played.
The crowd loved the American Slang songs and they sounded great live as well. I could tell that they were songs the band was already confident with and that was cool to see too. Surprisingly, no covers were played and there was little banter from Brian, but I guess that was to see how the new material went over. I still haven’t thought about what “American Slang” means, but sooner or later it’ll come to me. The next time they come around here, they’re playing Radio City Music Hall so it will be exciting to see if they sell out that place too. I hope they can. This show proved to me at least that they’re a band that deserves to.
- American Slang
- Old White Lincoln
- Stay Lucky
- Bring It On
- The Diamond Church Street Choir
- The Queen of Lower Chelsea
- The ’59 Sound
- Old Haunts
- The Spirit of Jazz
- We Came to Dance
- Great Expectations
- Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts
- The Navesink Banks
- Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
- Miles Davis and the Cool
- Here’s Looking at You, Kid
- Seńor and the Queen
- The Backseat