Live Review: The Gaslight Anthem with Dave Hause at U Street Music Hall, Washington DC – 20th July 2012

By on Wednesday, 25th July 2012 at 2:00 pm

The Gaslight Anthem is notorious for their energetic, all-out live performances and they didn’t disappoint us in the least Friday night. I made my way to the U Street Music Hall, a new-to-me venue in Washington, DC, to see them play. It was an absurdly early show for a Friday night, but the fact that the stage was in the basement managed to conceal all evidence of daylight. So as soon as everyone was packed in, the early hour was evidenced only by the notion that people were a tad behind in their drinking.

Philadelphia native and good friend to the band Dave Hause started the night with a solo performance. With songs from both his solo release ‘Resolutions’ as well as tunes from his band the Loved Ones, Hause electrified the mass of punters eager to hear some good old punk rock that night. Hause is quite familiar with the DC music scene, name-checking not only two of our popular clubs within his songs, but also referencing the iconic DC security guy that stood at the front of the stage waiting to pluck crowd surfers from the masses. [You can find this security guard on Facebook as ‘That Guy at the 9:30 Club’. Seriously. – Ed.]

After a lightning quick changeover, the Gaslight Anthem had the crowd surging from the very first notes. Lodged at my carefully chosen spot at the barrier to the right, I was able to withstand the press and keep my place. This venue was absolutely perfect for this kind of show. The small, squat stage concentrated the five players and the low ceiling gave it that ‘underground gig’ feel. Lead singer Brian Fallon even jumped up to thwack at the exposed piping above head a couple of times. The thrusting arms and pressing bodies made it all seem that much more urgent. Despite the fact that their new album wasn’t being releasing until the following week, the capacity crowd had clearly been waiting for something from the band for a while. They knew the new songs as well as any of the old ones. Fallon and company attacked the stage with an energy that was fed back to them in spades. They barely took a breath for the first five songs, ripping through old and new straight away. Fallon warned us that they weren’t going to be leaving the stage for an encore, “Do people still like that?” He reasoned that some do and some don’t, but he thought it was stupid. So no break for us tonight; this I am in favor of – just let me know up front.

There was an intensity from all, even when it got toned down a bit. ‘Here’s Looking at You Kid’ and ‘Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts’ had all the urgency and intent of the others, despite the slower pace. It doesn’t hurt, too, that the faithful could shout out every last word as well. Their breakthrough album, 2009’s ‘The ’59 Sound’, took up the lion’s share of the set and kept everyone hopping and singing for the entire night.

At only 500 person capacity, this night sold out within minutes months ago. The band has such an expansive sound, just waiting to be set loose on an arena. I am sure if they get their way, they will be filling them soon, both sonically and via ticket sales. Before leaving the stage, Fallon promised to return to DC later in the year. This announcement was greeted with one final sweaty mash to the front as everyone there exulted in yet another opportunity to see the greatness of the Gaslight Anthem one more time this year.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

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