The Gaslight Anthem / Against Me! - live in Boston (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Gaslight Anthem / Against Me!

live in Boston (2014)

live show

Twopointeight were a song or two into their set when I settled into a comfortable spot near the front of the floor at Boston's House of Blues. They're a Swedish band Brian Fallon's seemed to take under his wing, having produced their new album, From Wires and, obviously, taking them out on this first big headlining tour in support of TGA's Get Hurt. They fit on the bill pretty comfortably——maybe too comfortably, in fact, as they often sounded much like Gaslight, but without the latter's exciting emotional crests, songwriting talent, or stylistic variation. They certainly weren't bad, granted, and they kept the early, small crowd's attention for their half—hour. They even had a couple fans singing along to an older song.

Against Me! were next, and delivered the same sort of no—bullshit, straight—ahead, aggressive set they've seemed to be doing for almost the last decade or so. It was pretty awesome. Laura Jane Grace and co. were all smiles, blasting through 14 songs in less than 46 minutes with minimal banter, aside from Grace mentioning that deep cut "How Low" acted as a coping mechanism for her back when it was written, if I heard her correctly, and espousing the pro—choice slant of "White Crosses". They did noticeably seem to front—load the set with the faster, gruffer material longer—time fans like myself were quite excited to hear ("Pints of Guinness Make You Strong," "Walking Is Still Honest, "Cliché Guevara"), and slide the easier—going singles in towards the end ("I Was a Teenage Anarchist," "White Crosses"). So while the trajectory of energy eased down in a weird way until the finish, all songs got resounding reactions, especially for an opening act on a bigger tour (one whose fanbase used to likely overlap with the headliner more often than not, granted), with ample fist—pumps and sing—alongs and even a couple airborne crowdsurfers.

Set list (8:15—9:01):

Pints of Guinness Make You Strong
Unconditional Love
New Wave
Walking Is Still Honest
Cliché Guevara
Don't Lose Touch
I Was a Teenage Anarchist
How Low
Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Thrash Unreal
Black Me Out
White Crosses
True Trans Soul Rebel

Following Against Me! could be tough, but the come—down of their set actually provided a sensible flow into the Gaslight Anthem's initiation. Their stage setup wasn't too elaborate: just a couple of swiveling spotlights and a Get Hurt banner backdrop. They started off with a trio of their more mid—tempo songs, with "Stay Vicious," its set of grungy blues riffs (I thought Pitchfork alluding to Manchester Orchestra's Cope actually made a lot of sense) leading into its prickly, beautifully moody chorus, followed by "Biloxi Parish" and "1,000 Years". But the energy picked up with "45", the crowd suddenly surging forward. I was able to maintain some semblance of personal space, surprisingly, and was taken back further a few minutes later when the band got to Sink or Swim before they did The '59 Sound with "We Came to Dance", a sure standout of their catalog that's held up as strong as anything from that album seven years later (and certainly had an impressive handful of fans familiar with it and singing along).

As far as banter went, Brian Fallon was sure to tell the crowd TGA do not have a script, and to refer to YouTube videos of him constantly putting his foot in his mouth as proof. He didn't say anything too controversial tonight, though, just providing the regular charisma he tends to. Topics included: making fun of the merch guy's display capabilities by pointing out how one of the hoodies seemed to accidentally rip off Alkaline Trio with duct tape forming an accidental upside—down cross on it; telling a roughly 30—year—old punk in a lucha libre mask motioning for a "circle pit" between songs that he was at the wrong show; self—deprecation for being an adult that still wears Vans; firmly denying a song request and then assigning fake names for that person and himself as he extended a sort of strange olive branch of respect; and letting the crowd in on the secret of funk.

The encore had a little something for everyone, spanning from old cut "1930" and obvious staples "The '59 Sound" and "Blue Jeans & White T—Shirts" to their cover song choice that the normal classic rock—loving early 20s guys in Led Zeppelin and Nirvana shirts in the crowd were probably pleased about (see below). There's a few layers to it, too, given that it's probably a simultaneous nod to another influence of theirs as well. It was a fine finish, but I mean, they probably could have ended with a bad Bob Dylan imitation and I'd forgive them given the earnestly scrappy performance and agreeable set choice that preceded it.

Set list (9:31—10:42):

Stay Vicious
Biloxi Parish
1,000 Years
We Came to Dance
Helter Skeleton
Old Haunts
The Diamond Church Street Choir
Selected Poems
High Lonesome
Underneath the Ground
Red Violins
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
Blue Dahlia
Get Hurt
Great Expectations
Encore (10:45—11:09):
The '59 Sound
Blue Jeans & White T—Shirts
Baba O'Riley [the Who cover]