Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I’m breaking habits, you don’t want to know

If I am required to stand for longer than an hour at any point during the rest of this week, my legs will mutiny. Just so you know.

Right then, last night I headed to The Metro to see The Gaslight Anthem. Heading in after work and grabbing a quick bite aside, I arrived just before 6.30. There was already a line of about 20 people and so, in true rock n roll fashion, it was time to stand around and wait. Doors were only scheduled for 7.30, and it was sprinkling on and off, leading to much shuffling under awnings and slouching against stage doors. Inadvertent brush with fame when guitarist Alex Rosamilia materialised (seemingly out of thin air, but I am very unobservant when I sink into my mindless waiting state) to be let in. So there you go kids, if you’re lining up, it might as well be right at the stage door.

They let us into the foyer around 7, so it wasn’t too bad. I was immediately annoyed by the couple behind me, but later I would join forces with obnoxious boy so we could be united in our obnoxiousness…cause let’s face it, with all my eye rolling, I suppose I’m not much better. I think I’m just, well, tired of this whole scene business. Long gone are the days where I’d walk into a gig and feel an immediate sense of connection, homecoming, whatever. Everyone says the same things, has the same arguments, discusses the same topics every time and it just gets so stale and repetitive. As soon as you identify a “scene”, you’re doomed to this. It inevitably becomes a caricature of itself. But I’m just jaded, I know. Anyway, I don’t come for the people so if they want to stand around discussing the downward spiral of AFI from Decemberunderground – because really, we haven’t heard that before – that’s their business.

When they finally let us in, I managed to get a nice little second row spot just off centre stage. Waited what felt like an age, exchanging small talk with strangers and suppressing aforementioned eye rolling, all leading up to the explosion that is Foxy Shazam. I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would describe them later – the stage show is a bit like The Matches meets Mindless Self Indulgence meets Gogol Bordello (last one mostly because of the sheer randomness) – but Brian Fallon perhaps put it best when he described them as “if James Brown and Freddie Mercury had a baby.” It’s just the craziest thing. At first I thought I’d stumbled into Scott Pilgrim, but it’s almost impossible not to get swept away by the sheer exuberance of it all. There’s much posturing, jumping about, handstanding, rolling around, mic abuse, ridiculous stories, twitching, you name it. Their keyboardist was playing while standing on his head at one point and I think every band member had vocalist Eric clambering on them at one stage or another during the set. I’m not sure how they measure up on record, but live it is one hell of a good time. I think you’d be hard pressed to find another one of them around – check it out for yourself.

The Gaslight Anthem took the stage to huge cheers from the sold out crowd, and it was hard to decide who was happier, the crowd or the band. They were grinning most of the night and were just obviously having such a good time that there was no way you couldn’t love them. It’s always great to be in the front of a crowd when it’s a band you adore because all the other die-hards are going nuts around you, and it’s just such an intoxicating atmosphere. And of course you miss nothing onstage – the looks, the smiles, the nudges, the silent mouthed ‘oops’ when a chord is dropped. Win. There was a brilliant energy that thrummed through the place, from the dancing to the loud sing-a-longs to Brian’s meandering stories that start with sharks and ripcords and end with girls breaking your heart.

The hour and a half set was a nice balance between old and new, including a brand new song that I’m already utterly in love with. The drums on it, hmpfh. I’m trying to remember what the set list was exactly but it’s just too much awesome for me to compute right now. I don’t know what it is about this band, but they just hit something in me that nothing else does. While the emotional resonance when listening to their albums vary greatly, seeing them live was nothing but an all out amazingly fun time. I think musically they measure up pretty much flawlessly to the albums, and whatever they may lack in polish, they more than make up in heart. I’ll take that any day of the week. They ended with a fantastic cover of Baba O'Riley that, from where I was standing anyway, took the roof off the place.

By the end of the night I was completely hoarse and my cheeks ached from smiling. Just love. In fact, when I emerged onto the street, I was genuinely surprised to find it was 11pm. I could have happily stayed for another hour, or two, or many. But as soon as the distraction was gone, and my brain remembered my body again, I started paying for it almost immediately. Worth every aching muscle. Not so sure whether I’ll agree when my hearing goes, but right now nothing could make me happier. Short term goals, people.

More photos of the gig here - see if you can spot me :P

Edit: Set list here

Music: Bulls in Brooklyn - The Academy Is...

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