The Loved Ones / Gaslight Anthem / The Ergs! - live in New York (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Loved Ones / Gaslight Anthem / The Ergs!

live in New York (2008)

live show

Front to back, Friday night at the Knitting Factory offered great modern melodic punk.

Higher Giant opened with a 22-minute set of very promising music. It was only the band's second show, but only occasionally did they seem out of tune or missing notes. And how about those familiar faces? Ernie Parada (Token Entry, Grey Area, the Arsons, etc. etc.) on lead vocals and guitar decked out in an Ernie shirt and Dave Wagenschutz (Lifetime, Kid Dynamite, Paint It Black, etc. etc.) stationed behind the kit. As expected, they excelled in solid melodic punk/hardcore tunes with Parada's classic upper-register delivery. However, there was this occasional weird radio-friendly vibe and questionable lyrics, like a slightly less cringeworthy version of Thirteen Day Getaway-era CIV. Still, there was more good than bad, with Wagenschutz providing the forbidden beat every so often, and songs like the pretty excellent "Dangerous" and "Friday the 13th" -- as well as Ernie giving a shoutout to "The Office."

LaGrecia was another ex-Kid Dynamite collective -- however, with Jason Shevchuk now up front and center. The demos the band have been posting on their MySpace are promising enough, but taking in their live show REALLY got me psyched on the upcoming full-length. At least in my opinion, it looks like it could be Shevchuk's best material since File Under Black. "YouLikeBaseballLikeGhosts" opened the set, with its ridiculously awesome finish as Shevchuk and bandmate/bassist Sal Dellaquila provide soulful, cathartic "ya ya ya ya ya"s and drummer Dana Berkowitz dynamically pounds away at the skins. Jay said very little throughout the set, leaving more time for a wide range of affairs that ranged from the expected country-bomp flair of slower songs to the straightforward punk romp. They played considerably well, Shev's voice sounded superb as usual and the songs were great. I couldn't ask for a better 24 minutes to set up the Ergs!.

Predictably sick, the Ergs! blasted through 13 songs in a sharp half-hour playing all the favorites for a suddenly enthused crowd. They threw in one or two new jams -- I'm not really sure of the second. I just didn't recognize it, and neither did anyone else in attendance seem to, so I assume it was also new. In any event, the one definitively new song was cool -- nothing majorly departing from Upstairs/Downstairs, but solid in its own right. Stage divers were airborn and bodies were rambunctiously pogoing and bumping on the floor. Sweet.

Set list (8:10-8:40):

  1. Trouble in River City
  2. Kind of Like Smitten
  3. A Very Pretty Song for a Very Special Young Lady Part 2
  4. Bike Shoppe
  5. -----
  6. Introducing Morrissey
  7. Pray for Rain
  8. new song
  9. -----
  10. See Him Again
  11. ? (new song?)
  12. -----
  13. Aja
  14. Finn
  15. -----
  16. Books About Miles Davis
  17. Everything Falls Apart (And More!)
Holy shit, the Gaslight Anthem is blowing up. The band strung together five straight songs to open and the crowd didn't stop the finger-points once. I can say without hesitance that they drew just as well as the Loved Ones here -- granted they were slightly closer to their hometown than TLO, but still... Maybe the drunken fury of the sing-alongs just made the audience seem more overzealous than they were, but I doubt it. It was my first time seeing the band and they didn't disappoint, playing every standout from Sink or Swim as well as a few from the oft-delayed EP, Señor and the Queen, and even those had a pretty huge reaction. There was even that Tom Petty cover they've been rocking live. Few bands these days bother to put time and effort into thinking of clever transitions from song to song in the live set when they're mixing it up from the album, but Gaslight did just that, bringing up fading memories from my youth when my only showgoing experiences were arenas bearing Green Day tours and undying classic rock dinosaurs. Towards the end, my anxiety built as I feared the band might not play my favorite of theirs, the fantastic "I Coulda Been a Contender." But the last song came, and they closed out the set with it -- perfect. The venue went bonkers and my night could've ended there, satisfyingly, with Gaslight's eclectic mix of classic folk influences, early 20th century cultural charm and modern punk gruff.

Set list (8:56-9:36):
  1. Drive
  2. Wooderson
  3. Wherefore Art Thou, Elvis?
  4. Stand by Me intro verse / I'da Called You Woody, Joe
  5. Angry Johnny and the Radio
  6. -----
  7. American Girl (Tom Petty cover)
  8. -----
  9. We Came to Dance
  10. Boomboxes & Dictionaries
  11. -----
  12. Say I Won't (Recognize)
  13. -----
  14. 1930
  15. -----
  16. I Coulda Been a Contender
But it wasn't over quite yet. A band who I think is a bit overrated but has nonetheless improved with every release and subsequently moved them into more affectionate territory with me, the Loved Ones put on one of the better sets I've seen them play. It was a high-energy performance with plenty of crowd interaction, with a girl who couldn't have been older than 16 and bearing a mouthful of glossy metal jumping on stage to help Dave Hause for nearly an entire verse on "Chicken," and a whole assortment of goofy stage divers. The whole band was really into it and gave on a big, hour-long show complete with three-song encore. The drunken faces guitarist Dave Walsh makes at the crowd still give me douche chills, but it was hard to register many complaints otherwise. I do have to give Walsh one thing: It was pretty funny when the band left the stage after "Louisiana" to rousing applause and shouts for an encore, and came back not 45 seconds later with him leading the group and simply acknowledging the crowd, beer in hand: "Alright, here we go."

Hause had sister Ericka helping out on keys for some of the songs, but the real surprise came when the Hold Steady's Tad Kubler came out to play guitar for "Louisiana." That was cool enough, but Hause took the mic and went batshit, diving into the crowd and taking the aggressive frontman stance. He honestly looked pretty passionate during the song, moreso than at any other point in the set. He was so loose and intense you'd have thought he had friends or relatives in New Orleans during Katrina.

Set list (9:56-10:59ish):
  1. Pretty Good Year
  2. Breathe In
  3. -----
  4. 100K
  5. The Inquirer
  6. -----
  7. Player Hater Anthem
  8. -----
  9. The Bridge
  10. -----
  11. Arsenic
  12. -----
  13. Jane
  14. -----
  15. Brittle Heart
  16. -----
  17. Selfish Masquerade
  18. Suture Self
  19. Chicken
  20. -----
  21. Living Will (Get You Dead)
  22. -----
  23. Louisiana [f/ Tad Kubler]
  24. Encore:
  25. Sarah's Game
  26. -----
  27. Candy Cane
  28. -----
  29. I Swear