Concert Review: The Gaslight Anthem, September 10, 9:30 Club


There are many things I love in life, all of which are exponentially better when combined in any way. Last night, three of those things came together: polished acts, great venues, and punctuality.

What happened last night? The Gaslight Anthem played at the 9:30 Club at 9:30. While I think a lot of us have a special place in our hearts for the small, ‘niche’ indie pop bands that float around the major US cities playing gigs to devoted, but small crowds, there is something to be said for the bands that have hit the sweet spot: years of practice, a significant following, and a stage presence perfected by experience. Still small enough to play in great venues like the 9:30 Club instead of impersonal stadiums, but big enough to sell the heck out of them.

The band’s charisma was apparent in the 9:30 Club long before they took the stage. The older, diverse crowd was obviously pumped and super friendly, many sporting Gaslight Anthem tees, many already practicing the lyrics to their favorite tunes. (Side note: kudos to the 9:30 Club which never fails to impress with their friendly staff and great technical expertise. Special shout-out to the 7-foot-plus bouncer wearing a T-shirt that read “Big Meanie” on it. Appropriate attire for the win.)

As 9:30 drew near, the venue filled with anticipatory applause that amounted to more clapping than some bands ever receive over the course of a show. As the group members took the stage, the Club exploded with excitement, and the band seamlessly launched into their first track with eye-dazzling light arrangements to accompany and enhance their music. The group launched into a variety of old and new songs, endearing themselves even more to the crowd with their unabashed confession that playing new material makes them nervous.

“What if you don’t like it?” they asked (in a paraphrased way). “It’s like that dream where you show up to school on the first day without pants, but instead, you’re playing a song no one likes. It’s the worst.” Obviously they blew it out of the water, playing hits that ranged from their new single, “Stay Vicious,” to their 2012 hit “45” to their 2008 track “Queen of Lower Chelsea.”

Another note, which I think again speaks to the band’s polish, is the strength of lead singer Brian Fallon’s voice. While some bands are noteworthy for the consistency of their vocals (think Foster the People with that same, high-nasaly sound or fun. with their assertive-statement-singing), Fallon really blows crowds away with the depth, variety, and force of his voice. The man swings from heart-breaking crooning to angst-ridden yelling without missing a beat, and his voice always stays in a range that is pleasant to hear. It’s super impressive in the band’s recordings, but even more so live. As my concert companion so aptly put it: he’s a bit like today’s version of Rod Stewart of the 1980s.

All in all, such a great show. Definitely talent worth seeing live.

Posted on by halley in Concerts