The Gaslight Anthem, Rival Schools, Fake Problems
October 8, 2010
Better than: staying home and watching the 20/20 special that spoiled the twist of Catfish.
The Gaslight Anthem has always had a broader appeal than other bands who also claim punk rock as an influence--whether you have
,Pleased to Meet Me
in your record collection, this New Jersey four-piece offers right up your alley.
And it's something far beyond what the Warped Tour crowd wants.
The crowd that came out Friday night only filled half of the floor at the Palladium, but, nonetheless, they were incredibly dedicated to seeing the band. Whether it was singing along to every word or clapping along without any encouragement by a band member, those that came got nearly 30 songs out of a two-hour set.
Taking stage five minutes before 10 o'clock, with Meat Loaf's "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth" playing on the P.A., the band promptly jumped in headfirst with "Stay Lucky" from their most recent release, American Slang. With only three albums and an EP in their catalog, it was safe to say no favorites were skipped over; whether it was "Old Haunts," "1930" or "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues," the longtime fans and new fans got their hard-earned money's worth.
There were drawbacks, though. A major one was how the band really mellowed out during the slower material. Quite often, an uptempo number would follow shortly thereafter, but as far as pacing, it felt a little jarring. Add that in with a muffled stage sound coming from the P.A. and couple that with frontman Brian Fallon's tangents doubling as stories, parts of the set felt tedious--especially early into the set, when Fallon had a roadie play his guitar for a few songs. He also told a few dreamt-up stories involving B.B. King and Albert King that rambled on and on. Another story was about the infamous Chelsea Hotel in New York, made famous by Leonard Cohen as well as Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. How these stories were told seemed straight out of the Springsteen playbook for between-song banter, along with how Tom Waits tells random stories on Late Night With David Letterman.
Given the size of the crowd, the band could afford to be a little more intimate with the audience. Whether it was taking suggestions for their encore or Fallon showing a fan with a Bouncing Souls shirt that he had a Bouncing Souls tattoo on his left arm, the band wasn't playing to the exit signs.
The band ended their main set with a high point (the title track from The '59 Sound) and they finished their encore with another one ("The Backseat," the final song from The '59 Sound). One other highlights included a cover of Farside's "Hope You're Unhappy," a song that, according to Fallon, was a big influence on them when they were in their formative punk rock years. Being around East Coast hardcore and post-hardcore bands like Farside and Lifetime, it only makes sense that the band would pay tribute. The Gaslight Anthem carries on such a tradition, doing their own kind of rock that can't be pegged squarely into one kind of demographic. And that's a good thing.
Openers Fake Problems came out at 8 o'clock and the four-piece looked like they just graduated high school. But the sound they had was incredibly mature and sophisticated, and quite enjoyable. The first half of their set came across as blend of two bands you never thought could be blended together: Against Me! (circa Searching for a Former Clarity) and The Cure (circa the late 1980s). There was a lot of toe-tapping to the twisted marching drumbeats and the zestfully poppy material. Overall, a very satisfying 30-minute set.
Rival Schools had a sound that wasn't exactly in line with The Gaslight Anthem or Fake Problems, but they sure as hell made up for that with connecting with the crowd.
Frontman Walter Schreifels led his band through five songs from 2001's United By Fate and previewed five new songs from their forthcoming album, Pedals, out next year. Asking the crowd about the sound mix as well as asking people what they were going to dress up as for Halloween, Schreifels talked the audience as people instead of mindless drones anxiously awaiting the headliner. The new material sounded quite good, mixing the best elements of United by Fate along with previous bands Schreifels has been a part of, Quicksand and Walking Concert.
One can only hope these guys come back soon. The last time they came to Dallas was in 2002, sandwiched on a set at Trees with Red Animal War and Burning Airlines.
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(Tremendous) Personal Bias: If you were at the show and saw some dude standing near the center of the stage going nuts while Rival Schools played, that was me. United By Fate is one of my favorite records of all time and Schreifels has to be one the best interviews I've ever experienced.
Random Note: Before Rival Schools started their sixth song, Schreifels noticed a very young member of the audience, a boy who looked to still be in elementary school. Politely joking with him about how he got in the venue with his father, Schreifels and drummer Sammy Siegler gave the youngster a spare pair of drumsticks. Nice touch.
Random Note: I don't know many Farside songs, but I was familiar with "Hope You're Unhappy." I think I might have been the only one kinda losing it while Gaslight played the song.