Last Night: Gaslight Anthem At Warehouse Live
Quite a great deal of press - too much, really - has been given to the similarities between New Jersey's Gaslight Anthem and that other guy from the Garden State - Jon Bon J... er, Bruce Springsteen. Both Springsteen and GA lead singer Brian Fallon come from blue-collar roots, and both write songs about getting in a (preferably classic) car with your girl and getting the hell out of Dodge. Or Newark, whatever.
And to be sure, the band wears its influences on their heavily tatted sleeves. References to The Boss pepper the tracks of their first two albums, Sink or Swim and The '59 Sound, which are also laden with shout-outs to Miles Davis and Joe Strummer as well as overt lifts from Counting Crows, Charles Dickens and every artist who ever lived ("Miles Davis & The Cool").
But the question shouldn't be, "Are they derivative?" All art is theft, as Ozzy Osbourne once said. No, the question should be, "Does this band grab me with a hook, make me bounce along to the chorus, and leave me exhilarated at song's end?" And from the moment they stepped on the stage at Warehouse Live Thursday night, Gaslight Anthem did just that.
Last night's show was in support of American Slang, their latest album, which finds the band (mostly) abandoning their often slavish devotion to their musical roots and spreading their stylistic wings a bit more.
"Bring It On," the second song of the night, gave the audience a hint of what they were in for. It's a driving, soulful track, and fairly emblematic of the band's new sound. Fallon had to deal with the Springsteen shit early on, silencing cries of "Bruce!" by telling the shouters, "He's not fucking here, man."
The dude shut up.
The behavior of Aftermath's fellow Houstonians was a pleasant surprise. Die-hards crammed the stage, pogoing like mad to "1930" and "Great Expectations." But by and large, those assembled were well-behaved, enjoying the banter from the stage and obviously digging the show.
The only unusual thing we noticed was an inordinate number of women getting in arguments with their boyfriends, There's a "We're missing Grey's Anatomy for this?" crack in there, but we're not the ones to make it.
Again, it's hard not to get wrapped up in the Springsteen thing when your songs are largely somewhat anachronistic paeans to unrequited love and yearning for a better life off the mean streets. Then again, the Boss is hardly the only guy who ever wrote songs about that, and being from New Jersey probably helps those feelings, if you know what we're saying.