The Gaslight Anthem
Murder by Death
House of Blues Boston
October 17th, 2009
It’s amazing how quickly the Gaslight Anthem, a band that was barely known outside the state of New Jersey until recently, has exploded onto the scene in 2009. After an opening slot at a free WFNX show this summer, the band returned to Boston to headline the House of Blues in an engagement that signaled the arrival of the blue-collar quintet as one of today’s most promising acts.
The night began with a set from Broadway Calls, an up and coming pop-punk act that has seemingly opened for about 100 different bands this fall. While their short set was solid, it wasn’t as nearly as well received as their performance supporting Streetlight Manifesto at the same venue a month earlier.
As the cavernous venue finally began to fill up, Jesse Malin and his supporting band took the stage to perform a set of sunny pop tunes that had the crowd slightly interested. I’ll have to admit it wasn’t exactly my thing, so I didn’t pay too much attention.
Next up was Murder by Death, a band that served as a perfect opener for the Gaslight Anthem with their gruff, no frills style. The band played a 40 minute set of songs that dealt mainly with whiskey, drinking, the desert, and being in jail. It seemed as if the quartet was straight out of a John Wayne movie, and the crowd ate it up.
The Gaslight Anthem would then take the stage as Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” was pumped over the PA system. With a huge smile on his face, lead singer Brian Fallon would strum the first notes to “High Lonesome” as the dance party instantly became a rousing rock show. The band would then tear through “Casanova, Baby!” and “Old White Lincoln” as the crowd surged toward the front of the stage and sang along.
As the set wore on, the New Jersey quintet seemed to pick up steam with every song, and those in attendance responded in kind. Fallon and co. would not only play every song from their breakout album The ’59 Sound, but they would also play a number of tracks from their debut full length Sink or Swim, as well as from their more recent Senior and the Queen EP. While it was not surprising that they would venture into older material, it was surprising how enthusiastically the crowd responded to it. It’s good to see that radio success hasn’t created an army of fair weather fans.
The ear to ear grin that Fallon had showcased at the start of the set never left his face, An outsider might have thought he had just won the lottery, and based on the size of the crowd that packed the House of Blues and their enthusiasm, he might as well have. After a show stopping rendition of “Here’s Looking At You, Kid,” the band would charge into “The Backseat,” a set closing number that had crowd serfers flying through the air.
After a brief time break, the group would return for an encore that would feature zero songs from their most recent album but would still inspire quite a bit of chaos in the pit. “Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts” was followed by “Drive,” and the show was then closed with a cathartic version of “Say You Won’t (Recognize)” that saw nearly everyone on the floor crashing and bouncing into each other like bumper cars.
With smiles still intact, the band would leave the stage a full hour and a half after they had made their appearance, which is almost unheard of for a band with only two full length records. They had given their fans everything they had wanted and more, which is just one of the reasons why one of rock’s best kept secrets may officially be out.
New Found Glory
Set Your Goals
House of Blues Boston
April 30th, 2009
New Found Glory will never been considered one of the most innovative or creative bands out there. Their latest record, Not Without Fight, is possibly their most predictable work yet, going back to the sound that helped propel them to great popularity earlier in the decade. After reading that, you’re probably thinking I’m not much of a New Found Glory fan. Truth is, I love New Found Glory. For years they’ve been one of my favorite bands, and their show at the House of Blues in Boston represented the sixth time I would see them live. I like New Found Glory because they don’t try to be something they aren’t. They play fast, catchy pop-punk songs that are great for singing along to, and they transfer the energy found in their records to their live show. Their headlining show with Bayside, Set Your Goals, and Fireworks perfectly illustrated this.
The night began with a short set from Fireworks, the Detroit based pop-punk act who recently released their debut record “All I Have To Offer is My Own Confusion. The band seemed like the perfect fit for the tour, considering they seem to be heavily influenced by New Found Glory and have toured with Set Your Goals in the past. While they may have been a good fit, there were very few in the crowd who showed any interested in the band, with only a select few bobbing their heads or signing along. This isn’t to say that the band didn’t put on a good show and attempt to get the crowd excited, it just wasn’t happening.
The crowd may have been saving their energy for the next act, Set Your Goals, the Bay Area band that has become somewhat of an underground phenomenon since the release of their debut LP Mutiny in 2006. They have played a number of memorable shows in the area, including a handful at the ICC in Allston that at times have featured as many fans on stage with the band as down on the floor watching. While it would be much harder to pull off a stage dive at the House of Blues, the crowd still gave it their all during the set.
For a number of different reasons, I decided to stand off to the side of the stage for the entire show, so while I can’t exactly gauge just how crazy the crowd got, I can say I saw a good deal of crowd surfing and (attempted) head walking during Set Your Goal’s short set. The band sounded decent music-wise, and included songs such as “Flight of the Navigator,” “Echoes,” and “Mutiny.” The only complaint I had about the performance was the fact that the band has been playing the same songs live for about three years now. This will change in July when the band releases their new record, one song off of which they played in the middle of their set.
Next was Bayside, and this was my forth time seeing the four-piece who released their excellent forth record, Shudder last fall. As expected, the band sounded nearly perfect live, with guitarist (and Strewsburry, Mass.) native Jack O’Shea ripping of one jaw-dropping solo after another. Lead singer Anthony Reneri kept the between-song banter to a minimum and let the band’s varied setlist take center stage. After openning with “Hello Shitty,” the band would follow with “Boy” and then “The Walking Wounded,” providing one standout track from each of their last three records. “Masterpiece” from the bands debut record Sirens and Condolences was a welcome addition to the set, and fan favorite “Montauk” was also included before closing the set with “Devotion and Desire.” While the crowd had been quite enthusiastic during the Set Your Goals set, Bayside did not receive the same reaction. The crowd was seemingly split between fans who wanted to move around and sing along, and those who couldn’t’ wait for Bayside to get off the stage. This is unfortunate, but having half the crowd on your side at such a large venue isn’t a bad thing either.
After a short wait, it was time for the headliners to do their part. I am a strong believer in starting a set off strong and getting the crowd excited right from the outset, for it always seems to make for better shows in the end. New Found Glory also subscribes to this philosophy, as they began with current single “Listen To Your Friends,” easily the catchiest (and best) song off their new record. The crowd responded in full force, and from what I could see, they never let up for the rest of the night. The band would go on to pump out anthem after anthem, mixing the best songs from Not Without a Fight with all of their older favorites. This is the type of show that makes it very difficult to pick out just a few highlights, so I might as well just say every song was excellent and had almost everyone in the building singing along as loud as they could. It was a nice treat to hear “Tip of the Iceberg” and “Dig My Own Grave” in succession, both of which came from last year’s hardcore-leaning “Tip of the Iceberg” E.P. The only misstep (and it was a very minor one at that) was their cover of “Don’t You Forget (About Me),” which they used to close the set. It appeared that a good deal of those in the audience weren’t familiar with the track.
After a very short time off stage, New Found Glory once again grabbed the reins and ramped the energy back up with “Better Off Dead” to begin the encore. “Head on Collision” would follow, along with “Too Good To Be,” a slower track from 2007’s Coming Home. The band would then invite a random fan onstage to join the performance of the customary New Found Glory closing act, featuring Intro from 2005’s Catalyst, and of course, the band’s biggest hit “My Friends Over You.”
All in all, what I consider to be the strongest tour of the year so far easily lived up to the high expectation I had set for it. Each band sounded great and put together outstanding set lists. The crowd easily held up their end of the bargain, earning the title of “craziest show of the tour for sure” from NFG guitarist Chad Gilbert on Twitter (I’ve been doing some deep investigative reporting, I know). Title or no title, everyone in the building had a great time, from the people like me standing off to the side, to the crowd surfers getting tossed around, to the bands themselves. The only thing left to wonder is how long it will be until we see another tour this good.
New Found Glory set list (in order)
Listen To Your Friends
At Least I’m Known For Something
Forget My Name
Right Where We Left Off
All Downhill From Here
Glory of Love
Truck Stop Blues
Truth of my Youth
Something I Call Personality
Hold My Hand
Tip of the Iceberg
Dig My Own Grave
Failure’s Not Flattering
Dressed to Kill
Don’t Let Her Pull You Down
Hit or Miss
Don’t You Forget (About Me)
Better Off Dead
Head On Collision
Too Good To Be
My Friends Over You
Bayside set list (in order)
The Walking Wounded
They’re Not Horses, They’re Unicorns
Devotion and Desire
Set Your Goals set list (not in order)
Flight of the Navigator
Work in Progress
We Do It For the Money
To Be Continued
How Bout No, Scott