DEAR GASLIGHT ANTHEM

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Every now and then, something in life comes along that grabs you by the neck and demands that you eat, sleep, and breathe it. In this scenario, for myself at least, it’s music. Artists and their craft always fascinate me, for it’s their own form of individualized expression. When I have a feeling or emotion that I want to share, it’s through writing. I also find a sort of release when listening to music that isn’t mine, even though I can always find a way to relate it to a situation in my life. This example shines through when attending a show. For an hour plus, I lose myself in an imaginative moment where I can pretend that every lyric is for me, and then when that last note is hit, reality strikes back in. Musicians perform and express their craft to put on a show and to entertain people who come out to see that show. Sometimes we forget that artists are real people, and when the lights go off on stage, they lead lives and strive to reach goals while perfecting their craft. However, in this instance, I am happy that one of my favorite bands, and certainly one of the most influential of my generation, are just as cool and as hardworking as they are portrayed to be.

I am currently 27 years of age, the same age as Brian Fallon when he wrote a little single called 59 Sound. I wonder what went on in his head upon writing this track, and if he anticipated that people would idolize his music. I don’t think anyone can ever be prepared for a situation like that, but I’ll tell you one thing, it’s my time at this moment to let him know how much it’s affected me.

Saturday night, July 27th , marked a special anniversary for me. It was my 10th Gaslight Anthem show. Yes, I said it. 10th. I still feel like it was just yesterday when I was hosting a radio show in college, roughly in 2007, and I got this demo recording of a track called I’da Called You Woody, Joe. I needed to know more about this band, and more about their story. I started playing them, and slowly and steadily people started calling in, just as curious as I was. I attended a small show of theirs, and I knew in my head they were going to be one of the biggest bands on the planet. Sure, you can say that I must think that often while working in the industry. Hell, I don’t blame you for thinking that, but truthfully, I rarely ever have that thought. Another band from Jersey hoping to make it big? Well, I say, why can’t they? Why can’t a real rock and roll band sell a million records in days like this? Well, the answer is there is no reason that they can’t, because they prove everyday that they can. I think about a few bands that make hits, get thrown into categories and so-called genres, all battling for the same listener, just hoping to get that 15 seconds where they can grab your attention before you turn the dial. The Gaslight Anthem, however, struck me with originality, emotion, and talent. As weird as it may sound, I tend to get nervous when attending shows, for I feel as if it’s almost taking a ballsy risk. When you hear music on a record, it doesn’t always prepare you for what you are going to go see live. I personally want to see something original, I want to see a band perform their own work, and get the respect they deserve for it. And with The Gaslight Anthem, this is a match for what I feel.

Flash forward to 2013, six years later, and I am once again playing their music on the radio. Only this time around, you know all of the words, you won’t stop requesting it, and you attend their sold-out shows.

This, my friends, is a success story that I wish I could paint onto a canvas, because it’s more than music to me; it’s art.

Upon walking into Irving Plaza on Saturday night, I could hear the excitement, most of which consisted of fans wish-listing songs they hoped the band would play. Now, I have a confession to make: I am very protective of bands that I like, and truly believe in. If someone says something disrespectful, or even that I don’t agree with, I find myself having a hard time keeping my mouth shut. Again, I have to remember that these musicians are also human, and the idea I have formed of them in my mind may be completely tainted. Who they are on stage is not necessarily who they are in real life. Take actors, writers, and even people who work in major corporations for example. They always act different outside of work. However, with regards to Gaslight, I have the credentials to back up my thoughts. I had the opportunity to interview The Gaslight Anthem twice, once with the whole group, and once with Brian solo. Not to sit here and blow smoke up your asses, but they are just as genuine as they appear. They are a band that will never forget where they came from. They embrace their NJ roots and truly care about their craft as if anyone would care about their job. I found talking to Brian easy, like I could talk to him about music for days, because it’s not just a gimmick that he has to portray as a musician, it’s his passion. It’s truly who he is, and I honestly couldn’t see him doing anything else, just from the total 60 minutes I have spent with him in my life. I found it almost mesmerizing how much he cares about his projects, and how much thought process goes into each song. He once told me that bands would be a lot better off if they could admit that not every song they write is good. That statement alone made me respect him (and the band) even more than I already had.

As the lights went on Saturday, and they began singing Handwritten, I felt proud to be in that room, and grateful to be a part of the story that they always tell. As the iPhones came out and the pictures began to be taken, I really hoped inside my messed up brain that people would put their phones down and just pay attention — pay attention to what this man and his band have to say — because for that hour and fifteen minutes of time, they are yours. You could capture any digital picture, but just always know, that’s their craft, and it should be appreciated and respected for what it is. Even for a veteran concertgoer like myself, who has seen them a significant amount of times, it’s always a new show. Gaslight has established a dedicated following that has them stuffing every venue they play in. Aficionados, critics, and inquiring ears keep coming out because the band’s rigid, zealous rock and roll and raucous live shows make them the fieriest ticket in any town they play in. I write reviews on this band because I want to spill my heart out with how I’m feeling, just like they do in their work. Take this as more of a page in my diary instead of a person from the media boasting and critiquing music. Forgive me while I say some shit that may be offensive, but when you go to their shows, go because you want to experience the band, their work, and their art, not because you heard they may sound like this other band or because some celebrity may randomly pop up on stage. Yeah, those are fighting words, but these five fine individuals are worth a few knockouts.

In regards to their future work, I love the fact knowing that whatever they release will be different. I love watching artists grow and witnessing changes in their work. As we get older and wiser, different things influence our writing. I would never be a fan of a band whose records all sounded alike, and that whole “selling out” theory, to me, just goes in one ear and out other. I must admit, writing a live review of The Gaslight Anthem is somewhat complicated. They play incredibly hard each and every time, so yes, it can be hard to stay impartial. However, they will always give you an insane amount of positive content to rant on about. The band always finds the time to thank the crowd for coming out, but in reality, we should all be thanking them — not only for putting on a great show and pumping out amazing records, but for breathing new air into the lungs of a somewhat stale rock and roll era.

Until next time, boys. I’ll see you on the flip side.

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