Yes, that is Nic Cage on the drum. No, I don't know why.
All jokes about p2p aside, music is much harder for me to share with people than movies or TV shows. It's on the same level as books, almost, where if I hand you As Meat Loves Salt
and you say, "I don't get it," I know we are fundamentally different people.
During the great LiveJournal Blackout of '13-'15, I started listening to The Gaslight Anthem, and haven't actually stopped yet. Get Hurt
was the record I heard first, and I listened to it so many times straight through that when one of the songs comes up in shuffle, independent of its brothers, I know which one is supposed to follow after. It's the first album I've listened to that thoroughly since I was a kid with a cassette player.
They went on hiatus last summer, right around the time Jon Stewart announced he was leaving The Daily Show
, making it a rough couple of months on my cultural touchstones. But before I could get too deeply into the whole "nothing gold can stay" mindset, the lead singer, Brian Fallon, announced he was doing a solo album. And a tour. And that he would actually be near the godforsaken hellhole I somewhat affectionately call home, "near" being just 130mi drive away.
I wasn't really sure what to expect from it, since I got into Gaslight so late in their career. Get Hurt
remains my favorite album of theirs, and it is substantially different from their other records in style and lyrical content. I didn't want to be the asshole going, "BUT IT'S NOT THE SAME."
It wasn't the same.
It was joyously, beautifully, perfectly different.
I left Hellhole around four yesterday afternoon and got to the venue about two and a half hours later. I learned a valuable lesson, which is if something is built after you get a GPS for Christmas and you never, ever update your maps, you will have to use Google Maps on your phone and eat 60% of your battery life. Which is why, in addition to my cat being an asshole with a schedule, I woke up at 7:30 this morning after getting back at one a.m. and let Garmin do its update thing. Estimated install time: 82 minutes! I don't know how I haven't gotten lost more often.
Anyway, when I got to the venue, there were only about twenty people in front of me in line--the doors opened at seven, but Brian Fallon & the Crowes weren't going to come on until around 9:00. I wanted to save what was left of my battery to take a few pictures, so I spent about half an hour with my hands in my pockets, trying to keep my nose from freezing off, and looking around pleasantly at the lights. And then an hour inside the venue, waiting for the opening act to come on stage. Whatever. I was within arm's distance of the stage. I won. Plus, I have a rich internal life, so I can entertain myself pretty well, lacking external stimuli. One of my friends had halfheartedly offered to go with me, even though she had never heard of the band, which is why I willingly bought a bridesmaids dress and all that for her, but I let her off the hook--I didn't want to spend the whole concert worrying about if she was enjoying herself, which is what I would have done if she had come.
I did consider throwing my jacket over the couple next to me, but they stopped making out when the music started, so I spared them.
Corey Brannon was the opener. He reminded me a bit of Waylon Jennings, which I liked, and he was really funny in between songs. And, actually, during songs. Good dude. There was a half hour break between the end of his set and the start of the Crowes show.
I'm not into meeting celebrities - and I suppose I still haven't "met" Brian Fallon - because I don't want to taint the relationship I have with their art (ugh) with my weird anxieties, or their own weird anxieties. It's hard for me to describe, but I suppose anyone who's ever gone to a live show has felt the same. A rush of excitement as someone whose voice has kept you company through some dark times is suddenly in the same room with you.
While Gaslight was still together, Brian had a side project with some of the members called The Horrible Crowes. They put out one album, Elsie
, which is what I listened to on the way down. I had purposely avoided looking at concert videos from this tour, because I wanted to hear the new songs for the first time live.
Oh my god.
I've been to concerts before, concerts that I have loved
, but this one was the best. Just the best. Maybe because of the venue size (only held a few hundred people), maybe because I was so close to the stage, maybe because the lighting people were on POINT, maybe. . . I don't know. I'm not an emotional person, especially in public, but I couldn't stop smiling. Just couldn't. I sang along with the songs I knew, and put my whole heart into listening to the new ones.
He looked at me while I was dumbly smiling and singing along, and smiled, but he was smiling the whole time. Much like me, he apparently couldn't help himself. He was so happy
, as the drunken bro beside me exclaimed at some point. I've watched a lot of Gaslight concert videos, and when I compare how positive and goofy and energetic he was during this show to the later Gaslight stuff, I can truly see a difference. I do now have a visceral understanding of the phrase, "A thrill ran through me."
They played "Atlantic City," which surprised me, and some dude yelled out for another Springsteen song, and Brian said, "Sorry, brother, I don't take requests. Dealer's choice." Which was a very nice way to say, "Go to a fucking Springsteen concert if you want to hear more Springsteen." Heh, and he gave Springsteen shit for promoting a tour on Twitter. "Leave some room, brother! Bon Jovi and me are still strugglin'!"
Toward the end of the show he was talking about the length of the set list, and said we were on 17 of 20. It had been like an hour and a half of them playing at that point, and I couldn't have told you that without looking at my watch. I am sorry I may never hear "Selected Poems" or "Blue Dahlia" in person, but I can't wait to love these new songs as much as I love the old ones. And I think I will.