Riot Fest | Gaslight Anthem | September 15th, 2012
Photo: Kirstie Shanley
Gaslight Anthem was one of my favorite acts at Lollapalooza—not just because it’s an actual band with guitars, but because Brian Fallon is a great songwriter with a kickass supporting cast. At Riot Fest, such a seat wasn’t exactly filled by another band, but Gaslight felt like a more natural fit, and therefore a bit less exciting. The Jersey boys walked on to “Waiting Room” again, except this time, people in the audience actually recognized the Fugazi classic. The band seemed more comfortable here as well, and they should: despite accusations of selling out, Gaslight does have a rather reputable past in punk rock, with Fallon namedropping Chicago stalwart and Slapstick frontman Brendan Kelly between songs. “Brendan and I are getting an apartment together,” he said. “He’s a handsome man. I know he’s got kids, but we’ll figure it out.” Midway through Slapstick’s set, Kelly jokingly confirmed, “Brian and I are getting an apartment together. He’s not bad looking himself. Though he strikes me as the type of guy who has too many cats.”
Perhaps the live quintet was a bit too comfortable in their element, however, as new single “45” fell off the rails right after the a cappella break. It was hard to tell who fell out of sync, but Fallon recovered like a pro, shifting the cadence of his lyrics over mismatched chords with enough stealth to fool a mostly unwitting audience. The song was new enough for most people not to notice, but I have to admit, I was a little bummed not to hear his Eddie Vedder wail on those last few “where you used to be”s. That’s nitpicking, though. I’ve said it before: you just can’t hate a band with songs of this caliber. Add a bit of energy, and there’s not much left to ask of a rock show. Oh, and they covered “Sliver.” Yeah, by Nirvana. Sorry if anyone missed that.