Show Review: The Gaslight Anthem with New Politics Play at San Jose’s Music in the Park, 7/22/10

by Summer Dos Santos on July 24, 2010

I was first exposed to The Gaslight Anthem via a concert at San Jose State with the Alkaline Trio, Rise Against, and Thrice about a year ago. They were the openers and I almost chose taking a trip to the merch booth over listening to their set. Luckily, I didn’t take that trip and now I am a fan of their music. So when I heard that they were playing a free show in San Jose, I was anxious to go. I was geared up and ready to hear their new album played live and possibly some old songs off The ’59 Sound. I got there two hours ahead of time to stake out my spot and didn’t intend on moving. Let’s just say it was well worth the lack of food for six hours.

After waiting around for two hours or so, the show finally started. I came to the concert knowing little about the opener, New Politics. I was expecting little energy and a generally boring show. My expectations were completely smashed into pieces. After the first couple of songs, I was won over by the Danish born, Brooklyn based band. I became a fan of their Rage Against the Machine-esque sound, the lead singer, David’s dance moves, and the overall electric energy of the band. After a few songs, I would look over my shoulder and gradually more and more people would be bobbing their heads to the music. When the time came around to play their single “Yeah Yeah Yeah”, they got the crowd to sing along to the chorus with great enthusiasm. New Politics’s performance left me hungry for more and by the looks of the crowd, I wasn’t the only one.
Screaming like no other
Thanks to a kind man named John, I got my hands on a copy of New Politics’s set list:

    Nuclear War

    Give Me Hope

    Die For You

    Dignity

    Love Is a Drug

    New Generation

    We Are the Radio

    Yeah Yeah Yeah

Next up, was The Gaslight Anthem. Gradually, what was a decent sized crowd, turned into a humongous gathering of people. They surrounded the stage from all sides and some even shoved their way into the front just to get a better view. After they were announced, they ran on stage as the crowd roared and cheered. They kicked off their set with their newest single,”American Slang” and immediately everyone was bouncing up and down, pumping their fists, and singing along.

With some bands, their downfall is their live performance. This certainly isn’t the case with The Gaslight Anthem. As the set went on, I realized how similar their performance was to the actual recordings of the songs. I also became fixated on lead singer Brian Fallon’s face. He was smiling from ear to ear as he sang, something I’ve never seen any other singer do. You could tell from his smile, just how much he truly enjoys performing. After several songs, they began to play “Bring It On”. Brian’s smile suddenly went away and you could feel the pain when he sang “And tell me about the cool/He sings to you in those songs/If it’s better than my love/Then bring it on”. That smile wasn’t gone for long though.

Soon after the song, he began telling stories and talking about their hometown of Jersey in comparison to California. He asked the crowd if we always had perfect weather and the crowd responded with a simultaneous “Yes!” Brian then said “No matter what’s going wrong in your life, you always have the weather.” I agree.

Brian Fallon's sparkling smile

After their set was finished, the crowd chanted “One more song! One more song!” for a minute or so. I doubted they would actually play one more song after that long set. But once again, I was wrong. Brian Fallon appeared back on stage and played an acoustic version of “She Loves You”. After his solo performance, the whole band returned also to play four more songs, the longest encore I’ve ever been blessed to see. During their encore, one fan decided to climb up the side of the structure over the Plaza de Cesar Chavez and tried to steal their thunder simply because it was her birthday. When told that someone was directly above him, Brian said, “Are you an only child? Get down from there. This ain’t your show. It’s your birthday? You don’t want to die on your birthday. You gotta rethink your birthday.” That last little bit of humor put a cherry on top of my sundae for The Gaslight Anthem’s performance.

Even if this show wasn’t put on for free, I would still pay to see these gentlemen play a show together. Both bands put on a fantastic performance that no doubt garnered more fans of both bands. I went home stunned that such an entertaining show was played and determined to attend the next show New Politics or The Gaslight Anthem plays in the Bay Area.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tony July 26, 2010 at 9:53 am

I thoroughly enjoyed the show despite the terrible sound and the lackluster crowd.

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