California Blues

A needle in a steel wool haystack.

Country, Punk, and Whatever Falls in Between at the Henry Fonda

One word of advice for a show with four acts? Get there early. A half hour after doors and the curtain already lifts to reveal a dirty publican with a scruffy 2AM shadow and a devilish grin. Frank Turner cracks a joke about getting a curtain at every show and just how great that is. Then he barrels into “Reasons Not To Be An Idiot.” Turner plays with a passion and a magnificence that you can’t really get out of a full band. He stands up there under bright lights, stomps his foot for a bass drum and pours out his soul in aural form. I can see why The Gaslight Anthem recruited him for this tour. I’m not sure Los Angeles is the best place for him to play: the small and tightly packed crew of fans cheered when he introduced a song by talking about the dead friend he wrote it for. I’m not really sure how to take that.

“Try This At Home” really kicks Turner’s humorous lyrics home:
And there’s no such thing as rock stars, there’s just people who play music, and some of them are just like us, and some of them are dicks.
“The Love and Ire Song” introduction is another great example, “I was an anarchist until I realised I was being a twat then I changed my mind and wrote a song instead of making up my mind.” And he dives immediately into the crowd pleasing bar sing-along diddy. Yes, a diddy about revolution and ire. Perfect with a pint or a dram. At the end of his set, he gets his dedicated fans to teach the rest of us the lyrics and we all scream out along to “Photosynthesis.” Turner takes the stage with a guitar and a microphone, and pulls off a better show than two of the three acts following.

The Loved Ones are up next. Complete with hoodies and lots and lots of attitude. The noise-punk sound dominates without a lot of attempt at melody or rhythm. The lead singer downs a fifth of Jack and invites the 1100 capacity auditorium to his friend’s house party. So, yeah, I think these are the dicks Turner was talking about, but I shouldn’t put words in his mouth.

Next up is a twanging rock act from Indiana, Murder By Death. A band with that name can be three things: a Johnny Cash tribute band, metal, or ironic. I’m not sure they are any. The one cover they play is of “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).” They use keys and a cello, so it’s likely what comes through speakers isn’t best for their sound. Still, I want to hear them again, even if they sound like the Old 97’s with a bit less vision.

And finally the main act. They’re tatted up like Alice Cooper but play like Springsteen. Gotta love ’em. The entire crowd rushes forward, packing half the audience in the front thirty feet. The Gaslight Anthem overwhelms the crowd with their catchy tunes. Brian Fallon exudes passion and what’s even better onstage, fun, while bassist Alex Levine hops around for over an hour long set. Alex Rosamilia sticks in his corner, his hair almost down to his waist as he bends over his guitar and pedals, making the Jersey Shore Sound work just right. Benny Horowitz pounds away on the drums as the die hard fans crowd surf right in front of the stage. More than a few people surf the crowd all the way from the back, once in awhile finding themselves upside down hanging over an unsuspecting fan.

About midway through the show they start playing “Train In Vain” which leads straight into “I’da Called You Woody, Joe.” Around this time my mind, completely blown, has lost base with reality, so I ask my friend if they have anymore hits left to play, as they blew us away early on with huge hits. Of course they have stuff left to play, notably Old White Lincoln, The Backseat, The Ferris Wheel, and half the 2008 EP. Fallon continues to tease the adoring crowd as they pound through practically their entire repertoire. The Gaslight Anthem play so hard and so fast they even tire out the banker douchebags who won’t shut up during the songs standing right nearby. Thankfully, the drunkards do leave, just in time for the encore, which leaves us all drenched in sweat and thoroughly enjoying the night.

17 September


16 October 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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