Event: The Gaslight Anthem at The Stone Pony
Did you hear the fifty-nine Sound coming through on grandmother’s radio?
Did you hear the rattling chains in the hospital walls?
Did you hear the old gospel choir when they came to carry you over?
Did you hear your favorite song one last time?
~ The Gaslight Anthem, The ’59 Sound
When The Gaslight Anthem took The Stone Pony Stage on Friday evening, Night 1 of a three-night run of shows to commemorate the 10th anniversary of their second studio record, The ’59 Sound, fans weren’t sure what to expect.
Would this be a run of shows be just to commemorate the 2010 album that put the New Brunswick, New Jersey, on the rock/punk map?
Would this run of shows end with an announcement that TGA is back from the self-imposed hiatus the band has been on since 2015?
Or, would this run of shows not just commemorate their great album, but also be the last the fans would ever see of lead singer Brian Fallon, guitarist Alex Levine, bassist Alex Rosamilia and drummer Benny Horowitz all playing together as a band, at least?
As a fan of this band for about that length of time, I, too, wanted to know. But I also know that I wanted to shoot at least one of their shows. At the start of the summer, when I heard about this three-night engagement, that was my goal.
So, I got on my hustle horse and started to make some calls, drop some emails to see if I could get photo access. My faith (and hustle) as they say, was rewarded.
My friends at Backstreets.com helped give me the backing I needed to get access for the show. The Gaslight Anthem fans are often Bruce Springsteen fans – Fallon has been called the heir apparent to Bruce’s Jersey songwriting core. I argued that Backstreet fans may very well be interested in photos and a review of the TGA show, and the editor agreed. So, in I got.
There was a palpable energy – even more so than usual – in Asbury Park for this weekend of shows. The Gaslight Anthem, on their rise, played many small clubs in New Brunswick, NJ, and Asbury Park. They came up at the same time Asbury was, the next chapter in the Jersey Sound that would be written.
But it’s been 10 years since The ’59 Sound. Things are certainly much different for TGA now. Fallon has gone through a divorce, and remarried, Rosamilia has gotten married, Levine is a burgeoning small-business owner, and Horowitz continues to make music with a number of bands. There are more little kids running around backstage.
“That (The ’59 sound album) is where everything started from, and it’s something we feel collectively passionate about because it’s the first thing we did that sort of let the world know that we existed,” Fallon told the Asbury Park Press and USA Today Network’s “Fan Theory” pop culture podcast this past spring.
So, anticipation hung as heavy as the humidity that smothered Asbury Park on Friday evening. By the time the band took their places on the Stone Pony Summer Stage in the dimming evening light, questions would have to wait. Fans were warmed up (literally) and ready to the see the quartet (plus one, as guitar tech/touring guitarist Ian Perkins also was part of the stage lineup).
The band kicked things off with Handwritten, lead single off of their 2012 album of the same name. And at least one question was answered: While this show was the beginning of the end of a tour that was geared to commemorate the 2010 album, this wouldn’t be just a regurgitation of that album. More of the TGA hits would be coming.
All eyes were on lead singer Brian Fallon, tonight wearing a full beard, a Lakehouse Music t-shirt (Lakehouse Music is an Asbury Park-based music school that Brian often pops into to help students with their songwriting), and a Chicago Music Exchange trucker cap pulled low over his eyes. Since the band’s hiatus announcement, Fallon has gone through a rebirth of sorts. Or maybe it’s just getting older.
As I mentioned, while often deemed (by the press) as the heir apparent to Bruce Springsteen’s NJ-soaked songwriting mantel, he has tried to distance himself from much of that talk in recent years. He’s released two solo albums that have done well( my buddy Drew Gurian shot Brian’s cover and marketing material for the last album) and continues to look more to the future than to the past, unlike his songs which are soaked in the nostalgia of old hot rods, old music and girls named Maria. (Now you can see why he’s compared to Springsteen).
On this night, he – and the rest of the band – showed how that they are still one of the best rock ‘n roll acts to come out of New Jersey.
After four opening songs from other TGA albums, it was time to get down to the commemoration part. “Well, let’s go,” Brian said as he strummed his pink paisley Fender Telecaster while Benny Horowitz hammered the beat down on Great Expectations. For the next 12 songs, TGA revisited The ’59 Sound in its entirety. And the fans loved it all.
They finished up replaying The ’59 Sound and launched into some other favorites. As the clock crept toward the 10 p.m. curfew, Gaslight called up their two opening acts – North Jersey’s Jared Hart and Philadelphia’s Dave Hause, to lend vocals to the rollicking, punk-enthused We’re Getting A Divorce, You Get The Diner.
TGA then closed out the warm summer evening with the title track from their third album of the same name, American Slang.
When Fallon waved and said good night on Night 1, many of the questions at the top of the show were still left unanswered.
There were still two more nights for answers to come, though come Sunday evening at 10, it appeared this would be it for The Gaslight Anthem.
At least for now.
For this show, I shot my Canon 70D, interchanging the 24-105 mm lens with my 70-200mm lens, as well as my Fuji X100T (recently accidentally knocked off the counter by my 6 year old and now sporting a sort of broken battery door. A thin strip of Gorilla tape seems to fix it, at least for now.)
The ’59 Sound ballcap shot in this post above was shot with my Samsung Galaxy S7 phone, and finished in Snapseed. The B&W fan shot above was with my Galaxy, too.
I also used my little Canon SX6101 point-and-shoot a bit for the opening acts, when it was still light out. It’s pretty useless when it gets dark.
We were able to shoot the first three songs from the pit, as usual. Tried to make the most of the time – lead singer, full band, crowd, some detail shots. There was a warm breeze blowing stage smoke around which made it challenging, and Fallon kept his cap pulled so low, it was hard to get clean looks.
I much prefer the clean-shaven, pork pie hat-wearing Brian Fallon to the scruffy Brian Fallon. Just my opinion.
After the three songs were up, I shot some from the side, then moved out into the crowd and shot on a platform near the soundboard. I didn’t do that for the Southside Johnny show in July…but I should have. Good to get those overall crowd shots. Live and learn!
Click here to see more TGA photos from Night 1 of their ’59 Sound Anniversary Tour conclusion at The Stone Pony.
© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2018