All words: Travis Andrews — All photos: Jason Bender
This was the wrong night to be healthy and grown-up and mature and all those other words that if I weren’t lazy, I’d put in quotation marks. Looking around the 9:30 Club, sold out again, I’m getting the sense that I’m not here to see Bon Iver. The punks, the hoodrats, the lost souls: they’re all here, and they’re ready to rock.
They’re here for The Gaslight Anthem. You may have heard of these guys. They have lots of tattoos and love the 1950s. The singer’s got a set of rusty pipes that make any bellowing-wishful jealous. They also love Bruce Springsteen and punk rock. They’re like a young Hold Steady, which are like the baby of The Replacements and the E Street Band. So that’s where we’re at. Deal with it, kid. This is the stuff of Rock.
And like I was saying, I wish I hadn’t been so grown up, because when that rusty-piped singer opens up and grumbles out the line that always sends chills down my spine — “If I could write / I’d tell you how much I miss those nights,” those chills are there, and a glance around reveals everyone else had the forethought to numb their emotions w/ whisky galore, something I could use right about now. This is emotional shit, after all. Whisky helps. This is the stuff of Rock.
Brian Fallon (that’s the rusty-pipe guy, by the way) breaks into the loudest rendition of the Beatles’ “Come Together” you’ve ever heard, right in the middle of some other song that everyone’s since forgotten, because a) everyone’s drunk and b) Brian Fallon just broken into the loudest rendition of the Beatles’ “Come Together” you’ve ever heard. This is the stuff of Rock.
Josh Burdett, that big guy from the 9:30 Club, and there other bouncers sit behind the flimsy metal gates lining the front of the stage an holding back this flood of people. Every once in a while, someone goes surfing on top of this flood, and Josh&Co. grab them and send them on their merry way. This is the stuff of Rock.
Namechecking Bon Jovi calling him during Monday Night Football because his (Fallon’s) song was playing? No problem. Talking about football an inordinately large amount while dissing college sports. Don’t complain. This is the stuff of Rock.
And I don’t give a goddamn what anyone says. When he tells Gale on that song, “You shoulda married me,” I shiver again, this time with a Budweiser firmly in hand. This is some heart-on-your-sleeve shit. This is the stuff of Rock.
Playing for two hours, maybe like 27 songs (I lost count) with an at-least-six-song encore, covering Bob Dylan and doing pretty much whatever he feels like up there, including stopping and starting songs, etc. Get your panties out of a bunch. In fact, take ’em off and toss ’em on stage. After all, this is the stuff of Rock.