The Gaslight Anthem / The Menzingers

The Gaslight Anthem / The Menzingers: live in Vancouverlive in Vancouver (2010)
live show

Reviewer Rating: 4

Contributed by: westcoastweaselwestcoastweasel
(others by this writer | submit your own)

This weekend couldn't have been going better by the time we arrived to The Commodore Ballroom. Maybe it was because of good vibes at school earlier that morning; maybe it was the weather; or the enjoyable interview with Benny from the Gaslight Anthem earlier that afternoon; or maybe it was feeling n.

This weekend couldn't have been going better by the time we arrived to The Commodore Ballroom. Maybe it was because of good vibes at school earlier that morning; maybe it was the weather; or the enjoyable interview with Benny from the Gaslight Anthem earlier that afternoon; or maybe it was feeling near-perfect health amongst it all. Maybe. Or, was it my anticipation to see what was sure to be another blue-ribbon performance from Jersey's finest modern-rock export?

With them, the Gaslight Anthem brought along acts to unfold tonight's program: Fake Problems and the Menzingers. The former group had been recommended personally and at 9:00 P.M. sharp, they began, right on time. Immediately they fit the bill. A young four-piece emanating heartfelt vocals center and bluesy, melodic guitar from the left. I've seen this before. Much like our headliners, they drew just as much influence from classic rock, roots and even folk as they did punk rock. They played an impressively tight set, gradually gaining more and more interest from the crowd. I expect that growing amount of pot smoke in the air was synonymous with Chris Farren's tale about a woman's taking in the habit after chastising him for years, before he himself butt-out.

It looks like Florida can add another exciting act to their roster. Their new album, Real Ghosts Caught on Tape, comes out September 21, 2010, but as is the case often these days, it was offered at two-thirds of the retail price for any fans in attendance, prior to the release date. Why do bands do this? Well, you might as well offer it at a good price for those who paid to see your concert; otherwise, they'll be downloading it for free when they get home. Or, maybe they already have, but you've given them a unique upper hand. It's about competing with piracy rather than resisting it.

The Menzingers' task at hand was to continue the momentum as the packed house awaited our final act. Starting with a cool tom intro--clearly borrowed from the Ramones--was semi-intriguing until the band kicked in, played a couple bars then shifted the song entirely to one of their own. Theirs didn't sound too bad as it had hints of Insomniac-era Green Day; however, Greg Barnett's vocals were, as Billie Joe himself put it, "like an Englishman impersonating an American impersonating an Englishman." Alternatively, in his more melodic attempts he sounded like too many other boring--and excuse me--whiny pop-punk vocalists du jour. Despite any classic sounds of influence (which could also include more recent acts like American Steel), they mostly still failed to captivate. When the pint-sized Tom Kay took over the mic, he surely added some grit to the mix, which made for good variety in an otherwise mundane set. Mind you, as did Greg's solo vocal/guitar introduction to one of the more dynamic offerings. The band certainly played well enough and I couldn't complain about how the contrived material played out. Maybe it was just myself (and those around me) but I felt a lull in the night's agenda and couldn't have been more ready for Gaslight.

Unlike their first Commodore Ballroom appearance, where the all-ages show ended by 9:00 P.M. (two hours earlier than Vancouver's unique, bullshit curfew of 11:00 P.M. for minors), this time, at 11:15 P.M. the main act was only moments away from starting. T-Rex's "Bang a Gong" played in the background as we waited.

The crew came out; Alex Levine in his signature white V-neck; Brian front and centre with a dark, short-sleeve shirt and black-and-white tee beneath it; Alex Rosamilia's mysterious shrine of religious figurines and other collectibles on his amp; and Benny's background beats introduced the title track and lead single from American Slang. Their second single, "Boxer" played next without pause, followed by the title track from 2008's Señor and the Queen EP. Personally, I find opening the set with not one, but two current singles a little trite, but from what I understand, the set has been changing throughout the Canadian tour.

"Third time's a charm at The Commodore Ballroom," declared Brian. Although he was surely referring to their third stop, he could have very well been commenting on the sound engineering being perfected by the third song tonight. His vocals now poignant, it allowed for his "live-only" growl to shine through the final verse on "The Diamond Church Street Choir."

The sold-out crowd in unison sung the words "young girls" after he sang "young boys" back and forth during their "'59 Sound" hit. "Old White Lincoln" followed, as it does on the album, stopping halfway through with an elongated breakdown as they always do in concert. This poppy, new wave-influenced gem always strikes a chord lyrically. I've learned that one must be careful listening to an album repeatedly during a period of life because--for better or for worse--it will forever remind you of that time. A beautiful, unknown verse introduced "Drive" with soul. It was among other older faves such as "I'da Called You Woody, Joe," "Angry Johnny and the Radio" and "Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts," all welcomed as much as newer fare. Segueing into tunes from old cover songs or incorporating bits of them into breakdowns are always a Gaslight staple (e.g., "House of the Rising Sun") and they were heard and scattered throughout.

Benny's drum sound was as fantastic as it was enormous during "The Queen of Lower Chelsea," where both Brian and Alex's vocal harmonies made the newer song sound even stronger. Though at other points a little too boomy, the crowd added some treble resistance by clapping in time during the final moments of "Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts"--one of many personal faves. "Wooderson" soon followed, drawing the set to its close.

The Jersey gents returned for a seven-course encore: two parts cover tune and five parts Gaslight. No encore could be complete without "Here's Lookin' at You Kid," a tune so sweet even the bros in the crowd felt lightness in their chests beneath the tablecloth outfits. While Tom Petty's "American Girl" was a treat indeed, I'm never overly fond of hearing the Who's "Baba O'Riley" (especially as an evening closer). Somehow, I think I was mostly alone on that one. Twenty-four songs later, all boys and girls put their Saturday night rock party to an end. Our figurative keg had been tapped dry.


  1. American Slang
  2. Boxer
  3. Señor and the Queen
  4. The Diamond Church Street Choir
  5. The '59 Sound
  6. Old White Lincoln
  7. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
  8. I'da Called You Woody, Joe
  9. Angry Johnny and the Radio
  10. Miles Davis and the Cool
  11. Bring It On
  12. The Queen of Lower Chelsea
  13. Say I Won't (Recognize)
  14. Film Noir
  15. Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts
  16. Stay Lucky
  17. Wooderson
  18. Casanova, Baby!
  19. American Girl
  20. She Loves You
  21. We Came to Dance
  22. Here's Lookin' at You, Kid
  23. The Backseat
  24. Baba O'Riley


People who liked this also liked:
The Flatliners - CavalcadeFake Problems - Real Ghosts Caught on TapeAbove Them - Are We A Danger To Ourselves?The Hextalls - Rock You to SleepJoey Cape - Doesn't Play Well With OthersThe Sidekicks - Awkward BreedsThe Menzingers - On the Impossible PastCheap Girls - Giant OrangeThe Arteries - Dead Sea [reissue]Sonic Avenues - Sonic Avenues

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
evildeadalive (September 22, 2010)

There was definitely a Vancouver Gaslight show that ended at 9 as I showed up halfway through their set expecting to be seeing an opening band... And come on you guys, while I disagree with reviewers Menzingers opinion, this review isn't that bad.

damnitsderek (September 22, 2010)

Seattle show got "I Could'a Been a Contender" and "We're Getting a Divorce, You Keep the Diner". Skeet skeet.

PMAtill_ImDOA (September 22, 2010)

great show. great bands.
there was a really big bald guy who was picking fights with short chicks tho.

Cherrycolarain (September 22, 2010)

Oh, but this was a great review of the show. I always love how detailed you are.

Cherrycolarain (September 22, 2010)

This show was outstanding. Fake Problems played a fantastic set made up entirely of new material (which was awesome to hear live) and "Heart BPM" (arguably one of their best songs). As for The Menzingers, I totally disagree with you, their set was amazing and stole the show for me. Gaslight played their best Vancouver set so far, but The Menzingers are an act who clearly have their shit together. That said, Gaslight's set was also very, very tight. Overall great night. My only complain would be that I'm really starting to hate the fucking hippies and bruisers that are starting to show up at Gaslight shows. It has nothing to do with the band "growing out of my pocket", from the second I heard them I knew they were destined for mass recognition, it's just the people they attract are a combination of wimpy, hippie idiots and jocks that make their pit unbearable. Seriously, who throws punches at people at a Gaslight show?

westcoastweasel (September 21, 2010)

Many, many great live reviews detail band members' attire so I don't see why I'm slagged on that note, really. I'm not even saying it's great, just clarifying that many have, is all. Sorry it didn't please.

westcoastweasel (September 21, 2010)

I meant more-so the managers and label reps who check my website, reviews and past interviews than the bands. I never claimed the bands looked, even once. And, I don't think I've ever bothered reading Pitchfork, myself. I'm not that hip, nor am I pretentious - it was simply to refute to someone calling me a douche unnecessarily, I think. But, to each their own. I have much more Dissent of Man listening to do before the evening's close.

Jay3313 (September 21, 2010)

I just talked to the gays from Pitchfork, and they think this review is outstanding. Especially the detail in the attire of the headlining band, and the obviousness to opening acts.

And, if your review wasn't pretentious enough, to assume than any of the bands that you interview could give two fucks about the "professionalism" of your writing...Bravo.

westcoastweasel (September 21, 2010)

Review mentioned "third time's a charm" (at that venue). The early show was the first (at that venue).

westcoastweasel (September 21, 2010)

I am referring to the first Commodore Ballroom appearance (as I've already made clear). It was on April 10, 2009. Now, it's possible that I'm mistaken about it being all ages, but it would be a shock and news to me, alike. It was the only conceivable reason - that I then formulated and have since determined to be - why it was an "early show" at The Commodore that ended at 9pm. Missing their whole set as I walked in around 8:45pm was bullshit either way, which is what I was stressing in the first place. While our all ages curfew is a joke, maybe it is in fact not applicable here, though I certainly thought it was.

And no need to refer to LiveVan's time stamp of 7:30pm because it's wrong. The Gaslight Anthem ended their headlining set around 9:00pm.

shauncitrus (September 21, 2010)

What was the date for this all ages show? I work in a record store that has sold tix for their Vancouver shows, and i don't recall anything about an all ages show.

westcoastweasel (September 21, 2010)

Well, LiveVan's details are something I've learned not to rely on but thanks for URL :) While it makes no difference, the show 'was' early and did end at 9pm which was lame. The critique on our assinine curfew (unlike any oher city I've ever been to or lived in) stands.

shauncitrus (September 21, 2010)

There was never an all ages show for Gaslight Anthem at the Commodore. I know this for a fact. Check out www.livevan.com and do a search for past shows for Gaslight Anthem. And you'll see that i'm right. Maybe the show at UBC on Sept 10/2010 was all ages? I know it was a show for UBC students only, but i'm unsure of it being all ages.

westcoastweasel (September 21, 2010)

wBoth Brian and were referring to their third stop at 'The Commodore.' I realize they played UBC as I was there (though missed GA's set) I was also at each of the following gigs, including the rare 'all ages' show at The Commodore. It was over by 9pm because I arrived only to catcth the encore. I was choked that I'd missed their whole set. So, It's cute that you feel the need to both tell me that it's (usually) a no minors venue and then call me on my facts when you are incorrect, yourself. I was at all four Van shows.

I also stand corrected on the quality of The Menzingers, but that was simply how it rang out to me. I look forward to giving them another shake. Drawing a parallel from one song to a classic era of a band like Green Day most certainly doesn't imply that they are the only punk band I'm familiar with. Nor was it a negative implication in the first place. What a daft remark.

shauncitrus (September 21, 2010)

Not bad review, but i have a question; what the hell are you talking about when you refer to their first Commodore show being all ages and done by 9pm? The Commodore is a bar, 19 to get in. All Ages shows here are really rare and when they do happen they are done by 5pm or so. The 1st time they played Vancouver was opening for Rise Against at UBC, 2nd time (and first at Commodore) they headlined and the doors didn't even open until 8pm. The next show was also at the Commodore with Loved Ones, Murder By Death and another band, and that was also 19 .
Small detail to nit pick over, i know, but you've gotta have your facts correct when doing reviews.

wallrock (September 21, 2010)

I caught this tour in Madison this past Sunday. Excellent show all around, although I did think that the Menzingers were the least interesting of the three bands. This is not to say that I didn't enjoy their set, but I really liked Fake Problems (even with the lack of older songs) and Gaslight was in top form that night. The only issues that came up were the usual ones with meatheads in the crowd, trying to crowd surf and tossing beers. I didn't think it was too bad compared to other shows (Lucero seems to attract the worst ones) but my pal bitched about it for the entire drive home. He got stuck next to an over-enthusiastic bro when he moved a bit closer to the stage - that's the risk you take.

fattony (September 21, 2010)

Maybe The Menzingers were having an off night, because when I saw this tour in Seattle they were incredible. I had Chamberlain Waits before the show, but I've been listening to it more since seeing them live. Fake Problems and Gaslight were also great, but Gaslight played for way too long and their setlist lumped all of their slower songs together in the middle which really sucked all the energy out of the room for a bit. I actually wound up leaving the show early, but it was still probably the best show I've seen this year.

MusicFiend2310 (September 21, 2010)

Gaslight Anthem is amazing. And so are The Menzingers. Haven't heard much of Fake Problems yet

MusicFiend2310 (September 21, 2010)

Gaslight Anthem is amazing. And so are The Menzingers. Haven't heard much of Fake Problems yet

rkfrace (September 21, 2010)

I guess it's hard to say the reviewer's "opinion" is wrong since it is, after all, his opinion, but... it strikes me as profoundly insulting for the reviewer to dismiss the Menzingers and their overall sound and energy level in such disparaging terms. They're one of the hardest working and pumped bands out there right now, and the critical support they've received from a growing fan base would take serious issue with the negative superlatives used here. They've done a lot for the scene despite being barely in their 20s and deserve greater respect than the reviewer is capable of connecting with. It's ok to not be into a band but still be respectful towards what they're doing. The reviewer would be well-advised to take the parable into consideration.

Irish_Punk_Is_Gimmickry (September 21, 2010)

"Changed the channel when I read that the Menzingers sound was contrived."

i changed the channel when he compared menzingers to green day. maybe that's the only punk band he knows............................review makes no sense.............

candypatrol (September 21, 2010)

Not trying to be a cock, but, your "writing skills" are not what got you interviews with those bands. I imagine it's because they said "yes". But i think we all appreciate your humility.

westcoastweasel (September 21, 2010)

As far as the "pretentious and douchey" remark, in regards to my writing style: Maybe you're confusing an attempt at professional writing - that's not to your liking - in such a way. I imagine (though could be wrong) that it's my writing abilities and professionalism that has granted me interviews with members of Cobra Skulls, Propagandhi, A Wilhelm Scream, Against Me!, The Flatliners, The Gaslight Anthem, Screeching Weasel and more within the last 12 months. Or maybe I'm lucky. Either way, I appreciate everyone's comments and whoever took the time to read the review.

westcoastweasel (September 21, 2010)

True. I went in only familiar with Gaslight and left a fan of Fake Problems, as well. I gave my two cents on two opening bands I wasn't privy to, deciding to at least include that with The Gaslight Anthem review, which is what it is. PunkNews adds the title, possibly implying otherwise.

spitfire411 (September 21, 2010)

When in Calgary a few weeks ago, it took a few songs before the sound was good as well. Vocals for American Slang were almost inaudible.

tck204 (September 21, 2010)

I wasn't at this show. But I did catch this tour in Winnipeg earlier this month and I, along with the other 4 people I went to the show with, thought the Menzingers killed.

b4ndit (September 21, 2010)

I'm all for using extensive vocabulary, but does this review come off as "douchey and pretentious"?

Changed the channel when I read that the Menzingers sound was contrived.

whatchokesbegin (September 21, 2010)

I don't know why, but the lack of knowledge about the Menzingers here really bugs me. It seems like this guy came in only knowing about Gaslight, which is a shame because this was a show with three amazing bands and I would have killed to have been there.

westcoastweasel (September 21, 2010)

Yes, please excuse the typo on Tom May's name. I guess the whole review's botched because of it...

Secondly, in retrospect, more emphasis on the poor sound (at points) could have been included. However, by the third song it was certainly improved is what I was going for.

fucktheholymess (September 21, 2010)

Tom Kay. If you're going to review a band at least do your homework and provide the correct spellings of band members names. You look like a knucklehead.

I did wanna know what Gaslight was wearing though so kudos to that.

timahelm (September 21, 2010)

great job buddy!!!

BarleyPat (September 21, 2010)

Nice set list. It seems that they don't seem to fond of playing Old Haunts live. That's my favorite off American Slang and was one of the only two songs off it they didn't play in Minny.

DarrenMcLeod (September 21, 2010)

I thought The Menzingers stole the show. Loved their performance, particularly My Friend Chris.

evildeadalive (September 21, 2010)

I was there and The Menzingers were so much better than Fake Problems, who were very dissapointing. Woulda been nice to hear some older stuff from FP.. Menzingers were great, and the crowd clearly appreciated them even if you didn't.. Gaslight great as usual.

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