Concert Review: The Gaslight Anthem at the Music Hall of Williamsburg

May 17, 2012

View slideshow: The Gaslight Anthem at Music Hall of Williamsburg

Wednesday night the Music Hall of Williamsburg (MHOW) became an international hangout between The Gaslight Anthem, fans filling the Brooklyn venue and the rest of the internet world. The concert, which was broadcast live on, was billed as an official rehearsal show for the band's upcoming tour in support of their album "Handwritten", which will be released July 24th.

The initial show announcement was great news for Gaslight diehards, as the only shows they've played as a band since 2010 were at last year's Bamboozle in May and their December show at Convention Hall in Asbury Park. However, many were disappointed as ticket scalpers hijacked the pre-sale and public on-sale, scooping up and reselling a bunch of the reasonably priced tickets for double the face value. Infuriated that their fans were shut out and being ripped off, singer Brian Fallon announced at the MHOW show (and on the band's Tumblr) that a plan for a fan club with a "stupidly cheap" fee was in the works to prevent the ticket vultures from getting to the goods before real fans.

It's that kind of connection and dedication shared between The Gaslight Anthem and their fans that keeps everyone coming back for more. It's also what helped the band rise very quickly to fame, from being "that band that played Jersey basements" a few short years ago (the band formed in 2006) to headlining Radio City Music Hall in the Fall of 2010. After last year's large gigs, the group's followers were in dire need of a fix and a small intimate show. The 550-capacity hall was a perfect opportunity for the local band and its local fans to reconvene before the next chapter of the band's career begins with "Handwritten", their first release through a major label (Mercury Records).
The evening kicked off with Tim Barry performing to the crowd as they continued to file in for the headliner's set. Barry is one of the most sincere, authentic performers out there right now and appeared very grateful to those who showed up early to catch his set (check out my review of his recent CD Release Show here). Opening with "Driver Pull", performed on the venue's floor at eye level with concertgoers, and closing with "Avoiding Catatonic Surrender", Barry made a great impression on those who have been missing out on his music up until Wednesday night.

Making their entrance to Beastie Boys' "Sabotage", The Gaslight Anthem took the stage as cameras began filming for the internet broadcast. Opening with "Great Expectations", the band burned through a setlist that included fan favorites "I'da Called You Woody, Joe", "Film Noir", "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues", "Wherefore Art Thou, Elvis", "We Came To Dance", "The Diamond Church Street Choir", and "Here's Looking At You, Kid" along with popular singles "American Slang" and "The '59 Sound." Fans were also treated to a live performance of the new single "'45" and "Biloxi Parish", both of which appear on the upcoming album, as well as a rocking cover of The Who's "Baba O'Riley."

Joining the band on the Brooklyn stage was guitarist Ian Perkins, who fans fell in love with when he released "Elsie" along with Brian Fallon as The Horrible Crowes, a side project who only performed live twice (once in NYC, once in L.A.). Perkins was previously a crew member for The Gaslight Anthem who occasionally played guitar on the American Slang tour while Brian focused on vocals during songs like "Old Haunts." Perkins had not officially been added to the group's live show until now as a touring guitarist. Given that smiles were constantly flashed between Perkins and the band all night, it's clear he's a natural fit with the Gaslight Anthem and that he'll have a great time backing them up full time on tour this summer.
The Gaslight Anthem will be playing at this Sunday's Bamboozle Fest in Asbury Park, NJ. To find out more info about purchasing tickets and traveling to the show, check out the Bamboozle's official site. They are also set to play Webster Hall on July 24th. Tim Barry will be heading back to NYC next month when he plays Santos Party House on June 16th.

Check out my Examiner slideshow of photos from the concert here, with additional shots from the show here. Follow me on Twitter at @ConcertExaminer!