I talk a lot of bands that have been successful and have been on a roll lately, but I truly mean it when I say the Gaslight Anthem is one of the most successful bands out there in the last few years. They released their debut album in late 2007, and have just put out their third album, American Slang, and it sold twenty-seven THOUSAND copies in its first week. It's great to see that of New Jersey's finest rock 'n' roll bands have been spreading their infectious music all over the world.
The first time Gaslight played in Canada was on October 3, 2008 at the Sound Academy in Toronto. They were the first of the three support acts opening for Rise Against. Less than two years later, they came back to Toronto and HEADLINED their own show at the very same venue to a venue packed of Jersey rock 'n' roll fans.
Of the first two support acts of the night, the Menzingers came on first. They're a young, up-and-coming melodic punk band from Philadelphia. Like most young punk bands, Menzingers are used to playing basements and small bars, but they were lucky enough (and so were the crowd), to open for Gaslight this one night. They just released their second full-length, Chamberlain Waits, earlier this year. It's one of my favourite records of the year so far, and looking at its acclaim, I'm not alone on that. The two guitarists share lead vocal duties and lead guitar duties. While one of them will play the riff that drives the song, the other one sings out these great melodic lyrics that sound great with the rest of the music. They were putting on the best performance they could, jumping and running around like nuts. I'm sure they caught a great deal of attention, all of which they deserve.
The second support slot was filled by punk rock veteran Tim Barry. Tim made his claim to (sort of) fame as the lead singer of punk group Avail. Now it's just him and an acoustic guitar. He came on stage, admitting that he was a bit nervous about playing in front of a crowd that big with only an acoustic guitar, and how it didn't help that his slot was right between two great rock bands. The crowd gave him reassuring cheers and he quickly started to play. His voice was so powerful, he could've done fine without a mic--same thing with his guitar. He may not play in a punk band anymore but he definitely has the spirit of a punk. His songs are about struggles with life and dealing with the shit that happens. He informed the crowd how great an outlet music was for him. A few times in the middle of songs he would shout out "Fuck!!!" away from the mic. At the end of those songs he woud say,"You have no idea how good that felt." What was amazing was that not only was his voice and guitar powerful, but that the emotion that came with the music was just stunning. Just hearing him singing about life and the shit that comes with it made me feel amazing.
They come on stage with some annoying Jay-Z song playing in the background. They wave to the crowd, and while the background music is still going on, the drummer Benny starts banging the beginning of their title track, "American Slang," and off goes the show. Lead singer Brian Fallon had his eyes closed at the beginning of the set while he sings, and the more deep they got into the set he started to open his eyes and sing to the crowd. The set was made up of almost all of the songs from Amerian Slang, close to half of their sophomore album, The '59 Sound, and a few songs off their debut, Sink or Swim.
It's clear that Gaslight aren't shy about their new songs. Eight of the 10 songs plus the bonus track of American Slang were played. Something new that I haven't seen Brian do before was hand gestures to the songs. He would act out the imagery using his hands, including the beginning of their new album's upcoming single, "Boxer." In the middle of the set Brian started talking to the crowd: "So I have stitches in my mouth. It's no fun, but I'm here. So kids, take this as a lesson. Brush your teeth, or you will have stitches in your mouth." Needless to say, I brushed my teeth before going to sleep. For a guy who had stitches in his mouth, Brian sang pretty damn well, though.
To make the night a bit more special, during the encore Brian came on stage by himself and played the bonus track of American Slang, "She Loves You," and when the rest of the band joined him, they did an awesome cover of Pearl Jam's "State of Love and Trust." The encore also included the heartbreak anthem, "Here's Looking at You, Kid," '59 Sound closer "The Backseat," and their catchy and über-contagious new song, "The Diamond Church Street Choir."
As the night ended, the beginning of their first North American tour supporting their new record had just begun. Thankfully, before the boys walked off stage, Brian reassured the crowd that they'll be back real soon. Thank god. I've seen them five times in less than two years, and I'm still aching for more. I know I'm the not only one who feels this way.
Ida call you woody, boys.