Massive, commercial-strength air conditioners can only do so much to mitigate the Kansas July heat. But despite the fact that melting into the floorboards of the Bottleneck was a distinct possibility last night, seeing the Gaslight Anthem
in such an intimate environment wasn't to be missed.
The sold-out crowd attested to the fact that this a band worth seeing. Their working-class anthems, reminiscent of a bygone era, certainly benefit from the close confines of a club such as this. The feedback? Not so much. The screeching waves only attacked a few songs, thankfully.
Usually, hand claps are the sort of thing the band has to initiate, but last night, the crowd was fully ready, willing, and able to provide ancillary percussion. I've never seen a band so enthusiastically engage its audience.
I spent a good portion of their performance staring over the heads of the rest of the crowd, soaking in the functioning A/C back by the pool tables. Despite my distant perspective, I could tell the band was on point. The benefit of standing at the back, aside from being able to breathe without wanting to die, was being able to actually hear Brian Fallon and company rock out a set of songs that covered their entire catalog.
This band may not have played the states in almost two years, but there's no sign of road rust on these rock 'n' rollers. Guitar lines rang clear and true, with vocals inspiring numerous cases of sing-along activity. The number of smiling faces were innumerable, and mine was one of them.
- Courtesy Sid Sowder, toomuchrock.com
Opener Dave Hause
has me completely reevaluating my opinions regarding punk rock frontmen playing solo. His rendition of "Jane," by his band the Loved Ones, had folks clapping and singing along just as fervently as they would had he been backed with a bassist and drummer. I will be snagging his solo album on my next record-buying jaunt.
His stage banter, ably assisted by a fifth of Jameson, was witty and clever, such as his teasing of a guy in a t-shirt that read "I Used to Be In Taking Back Sunday": "No, you didn't," Hause said. "I know those guys." Or, when he told of taking mushrooms for three or four days on vacation, and then reading The Road — "That post-apocalyptic novel? Yeah. That is the LAST time I'm doing mushrooms. When you pass 30, you need to start crossing things off the list of drugs you'll do, and mushrooms are definitely crossed off that list."