The Gaslight Anthem stormed into Lawrence Thursday for a sold out performance at the Bottleneck…
And man was it hot in there.
Not only was the band up for the occasion, but the masses of sweaty dudes inside the venue created a fog in the air reminiscent of my high school locker room. The closer to the stage I ventured, the more suffocating the heat and humidity became, so I was content to chill for most of the night by the soundboard.
The band started off strong with Great Expectations, 45, Old White Lincoln, and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, before unleashing a searing version of American Slang that set off an already pumped up crowd.
Nothing could stop gregarious front man Brian Fallon as he rollicked through the band’s material, both old and new. Fallon flailed around the stage with a huge grin on his face looking like even he couldn’t believe how fun it still was to sweat through his jeans.
In between songs Fallon didn’t hesitate to engage the crowd with what was often times a kind of off kilter banter.
At one point he invited a female fan on stage juist to have a chat with her for a moment. At annother he told a story about the Howard Stern Show that neither I nor most of the audience could follow. "You know Howard Stern, right?" he asked a confused crowd that didn’t quite know how to respond. "What is this, Kansas or something?"
Aside from the weird shtick, it was clear the band was holding nothing back.
They blazed through working-class song after song sounding tight and road-tested. Fallon’s gruff vocals rang true and inspired multiple bouts of handclapping and singalong choruses.
Normally at shows like this there’s a couple songs that really stand out, but that wasn’t the case on this night. Everything kind of blended together in the swamp fog as the Gaslight boys chugged their way through a dozen or so mid-tempo rocker anthems.
A lot of their material is pretty similar in terms of dynamics, guitar tones, and overall feeling, so it was refreshing on the few songs where most everyone dropped out but the lead vocals. Which inevitably led right back in to a fist-pumping chorus.
Such is the case with Gaslight Anthem.
They’re solid and have good songs, but after an hour or so it feels like you’ve heard everything they have to offer.
The band ended the night strong, with a long encore that closed out the sweaty night, saving one of their best songs – The ’59 Sound – for last.
And as the lights came back on there was no doubt every last person at the show got their money’s worth.