Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Concert Review: Gaslight Anthem with Tim Barry and The Menzingers, July 14, Toronto

I was slightly apprehensive about going to the Gaslight Anthem gig on Wed., July 14, because the hype surrounding these boys from Jersey has been crazy. They were featured on the cover of Exclaim!, and had feature articles on them in both the Toronto Star and the National Post. Would they live up to the hype, or are they just another bunch of tattooed pretty boys that the kids are think are cool? And the show was at the friggin' Sound Academy, one of my least favorite venues in Toronto.

First, let me say that if you are an old jaded person like myself, and you want to avoid the moshing kids, and you don't mind paying a few extra bucks, the Sound Academy VIP section is genius. GENIUS! I totally change my mind about the Sound Academy being a bad venue. In fact, I saw the most beautiful crescent moon set over the city skyline that night from the VIP patio. Dammit I wish I had something besides my awful cell phone camera with me. And there is never a line for booze, nor a line for the bathrooms. Awesome. Totally changed my concert experience.

Gaslight totally lived up to the hype. Blew me away actually. This was the opening night of their tour which is continuing across the US. They blasted into the title track "American Slang" and never looked back. The kids went crazy. I went crazy.

Gaslight are filling in a much needed niche in music right now: they are a solid rock band. They don't fart around with pretentious new sounds, or have weird outfits, or feel the need to do namby-pamby acoustic folk songs (and I like namby-pamby acoustic folk songs). American Slang is essentially following the same Tom Petty/Bruce Springsteen rock formula that they have been using since their 2008 debut album Sink Or Swim, except that they have become better singers/guitarists/musicians in general. In fact, they aren't doing anything that Lucero hasn't been doing for the last twelve years. Which begs the question as to why Lucero is still stuck at Lee's Palace (500 person capacity), while Gaslight can sell out the Sound Academy (capacity 3000). Is it because Lucero is from Memphis and has a bit of twang in their music? I'll save this discussion for another blog post, but I will note that Gaslight Anthem has been covering Lucero's "The War" on this tour. Check out this video from the July 24 Denver gig.

Back to the Toronto show. Just before playing their 2009 hit, "The '59 Sound," lead singer Brian Fallon profusely thanked the crowd for their support, and thanked Canada for Neil Young and Tegan and Sara. Then they launched into four more songs, plus a six song encore including a cover of Pearl Jam's "State of Love and Trust." The Gaslight guys were young teenagers when grunge was in fashion, and you can tell that grunge was a huge influence on their musical development. This show was an all-ages event, and I was in the 19+ balcony section so I couldn't tell if there were any parents lurking in the back while their kids danced up front, but I'm hoping that the Gaslight Anthem will get today's teenagers interested in rock and roll. God knows that popular music needs it.

Set List
1. American Slang
2. Casanova, Baby!
3. Old White Lincoln
4. Stay Lucky
5. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
6. Bring It On
7. Boxer
8. Angry Johnny and the Radio
9. The Spirit of Jazz
10. The Queen of Lower Chelsea
11. The '59 Sound
12. Boomboxes and Dictionaries
13. Old Haunts
14. Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts
15. Great Expectations

16. She Loves You
17. The Diamond Church Street Choir
18. We Came To Dance.mp3
Buy: Sink or Swim (2008)
19. State of Love and Trust (Pearl Jam cover)
20. Here's Looking at You, Kid
21. The Backseat

Some sweet photos from the show on Chartattack.

The show opened with a 45 minute set from the punk band The Menzingers. I don't know much about this band other than they are a four piece from Philadelphia, and there were loud, with lots of energy, and generally awesome. When I went to buy their new CD Chamberlain Waits, their merch dude told me that the band left after playing their opening set so they could go to the Bovine Sex Club and play another gig. Hard core! I love the Bovine. I need to hang out there more often. I listened to the CD last week and if you like hard rock, you will like this album.

The Menzingers - Home Outgrown.mp3
Buy: Chamberlain Waits (2010)

As I told my new concert buddy Ellen, I mainly attended this show to see Tim Barry. Gaslight Anthem was an added bonus! Barry is intense, and pissed off, but also deeply sincere and forthright. He has deep convictions, and he stands by them.You don't fuck with Tim Barry.

First The Menzingers tore the roof off of the place, then Barry took the stage solo, with just his acoustic guitar. He said, "I'm the obligatory old man with an acoustic guitar who used to be in a punk band." I was concerned that the youngsters at the show would ignore Barry, or talk over his set. Fortunately, I was wrong. Barry held the audience in the palm of his hand, much unlike the Wrongbar fiasco a few months ago.

He sounded really good. And in addition to being a wonderful musician and storyteller, Barry is one funny dude. "I'm nervous as a motherfucker tonight," Barry quipped after his third song. You can imagine that Barry is mostly used to playing in front of a few hundred people. After his second to last song Barry thanked the security staff, the bartenders, and then Gaslight Anthem. He told the crowd that Gaslight was letting him crash on their bus, which, considering the economics of touring, is a wonderful thing for Gaslight to do. Apparently Alkaline Trio did the same for Gaslight Anthem back in the day. It gave me a whole new respect for Gaslight.

Someone needs to follow Barry around and write down all of his quotes. "Canadians are the nicest motherfuckers ever!" "I'm not afraid to die, but I'm afraid to not fuckin' live." "I wrote this song at work, cause that's how I fuckin' role." "Please clap along as the end of this song sucks." "Fuck! That felt good! Thank you!"

No, thank you, Tim.

Set List
1. This November
2. Moving On Blue
3. Idle Idylist
4. Church of Level Track
5. Tim Barry Making Fun of Tim Barry (Video from The Grist Mill in Waterloo, Ontario)
6. Prosser's Gabriel.mp3
Buy: 28th & Stonewall (2010)
7. Avoiding Catatonic Surrender
8. Dog Bumped

Beautiful moon set, terrible camera.


simon2307 said...

Agree totally on the Gaslight Anthem, solid good old rock n roll. Got to put some of their hype down to the Springsteen appearance - but doesn't take away from the fact they're a great band with some cracking tunes.

T-Sizzla said...

Now I see Tim Barry is coming here in Oct.

I swear there is some correlation here