Concert Review: Gaslight Anthem, October 2009

Gaslight Anthem at Kool Haus, Toronto

"We hang out in alleyways, it's what The Boss would do"

October 13, 2009


By Aaron Binder

Gaslight Anthem – Kool Haus – Oct 13, 2009

It is often difficult to think up different ways to write about live shows. You either decide to one day recycle something with different wording or just go totally wacky.  There are only so many words in a thesaurus and only so many metaphors that work without jumping into the ludicrous, that one must stay focused and driven to provide the best reading experience.

Playing at Toronto’s Kool Haus is usually a milestone for most acts on the way up.  The venue is great aside from the overpriced drinks, but you’re there to enjoy the show anyway, right?  They do have, however, one of the better stages in the city; large enough to allow a range of movement, but small enough to keep almost any show intimate.When Gaslight Anthem stepped onto that stage they kicked things off with a boom, a bang, and a crash. The guitars slid into high gear and the drums thrashed like a Jersey style mosh pit.  And then it kind of slipped right into Springsteen gear.  It would be a disservice to Gaslight to say that every song sounds like a mix of every Boss song ever written, but they do manage to slip in almost too much of that influence into their songwriting.  This definitely translates live as well; if you close your eyes you would be hard-pressed to believe that you weren’t at a Springsteen concert during some songs.

The good news is that they are great on stage. With lots of movement and bravado, they command a decent amount of crowd interaction through sing-alongs and some great rock-star style acrobatics.  Their show is pretty big and with enough time they could very well become a stadium band.  As they progressed through their set, it became glaringly apparent that they are competent songwriters but rather limited in what they write.  That’s not to say it’s bad, it’s just…slightly predictable.  They managed to hit a couple of high notes with a bluesy jam. Shrouded in red light, they struck up one heck of a sonic storm.  However, it only lasted long enough to leave you wanting more.  That seemed to be the mantra though, they’re good, and they have the ability to step up, but they just don’t seem to have the awareness quite yet to hit the crowd with exactly the right mood at exactly the right time. They are close though.

Overall, Gaslight Anthem is good live and it will be great to see them again the next time they come around. I’m interested to see what kind of new angles they can add to their music.  For now, they can be classified as a band with a load of potential, and if they focus, their music and especially their live show should improve monumentally.  Viewed from the outside, this is a band that is just about to pull the trigger and shoot their way into stardom.


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