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05.27.2023: The Gaslight Anthem @ Beak and Skiff

W/S/G Oso Oso and Emily Wolfe

Last night celebrated the unofficial start of summer with my first show of the season at Beak and Skiff. I'd been to shows there before so I thought I knew what to expect: cider, cider donuts, great sightlines, good sound, and crowded parking. The night ended up being a bit of a surprise party for me. The show started a bit earlier than I was used to, with things getting rolling right around 6;45 and the crowd was pretty thin. The first surprise was also the first opener: Emily Wolfe. Ms. Wolfe took the stage and delivered a set that felt intimate far beyond what I thought was possible at a venue like Beak and Skiff.

Emily Wolfe

When I say Ms. Wolfe took the stage, I mean it literally. It was just her and her guitar. There was no backing band, no drum machines, NOTHING. She belted out soulful, bluesy song after soulful bluesy song to the small crowd by the stage and the smattering of lawn chairs who'd made it that early. She also began the trend of the night by actively interacting directly with audience members, not just retelling canned anecdotes of rockstar-dom. My favorite part of this "job" is when I am surprised by an act or performance and Emily Wolfe was both in spades. I'd never heard of her but by the end of her set I was texting my sister that she needed to check her out. I'm not sure our edm/pop obsessed mainstream will give her the attention she deserves but I know her music is going into my Spotify playlists as soon as I finish this post.

Jade Lilitri, the only permanent member of Oso Oso

Next up was Oso Oso. My ADHD brain was amused by their looped name, as their sound reminded me of Minus the Bear's album Menos El Oso, but without the looping in the music. At varying points in their set I was reminded of Spoon and the song "California" by Phantom Planet, but YMMV. Their sound was a nice compliment to the warm air and setting sun. They definitely had fans in the crowd, and several people at the rail were singing along with them word for word. Their crowd work was more typical anecdote based fare, though their own anecdote about crowd song requests during an Eddie Money concert came back to haunt them when people in the crowd starting calling for "Two Tickets to Paradise" as they closed out their set.

Brian Fallon

I won't lie: I came to The Gaslight Anthem's show already a fan. I've been listening to them since I discovered them when they released their difficult to properly cite single ""45"" off of Get Hurt. While overall I loved last nights set, I'd be remiss if I didn't report that it had a curious energy to it. Front man Brian Fallon warned us in the crowd that, as the last of the tour, the show might get weird and delightfully weird was what was delivered. By the time Gaslight Anthem took the stage, the crowd had swelled significantly, with all the standing and seating areas appearing pretty full, albeit notably not a sold out night. They certainly brought a unique show. The crowd interactions were intimate to the point of being one on one conversations. Of note was an early interaction with Brian teasing a man that he needed to deliver a night worthy of how his date had not just come out, but was done up to the nines including curled hair, and an anecdote about how surreal his life can be, such as the time he almost sent Bruce Springsteen to voicemail for calling his cell early one morning.

The Curls in Question

Other interactions were more acerbic, lightly criticizing when a sign with a song request continued to be held aloft long after it had been acknowledged by the bad, and criticizing hecklers yelling song requests that would have been a vibe killer at that point in the set. At another point, Brian conversed directly with a 6 year old in the audience about her experience getting her ears pierced as his own six year old was wanting to do it too and he wasn't sure how to handle it. This sweet moment highlighted a weird and almost hostile energy the crowd brought the whole night: while he was having the admittedly unusual but sweet interaction with the girl, others in the crowd starting yelling things and soured the moment. Understandably for a band with such a solid back catalog, the crowd had lots of requests, from Halloween to Mulholland Drive to the usual yokel thinking that yelling "FREEBIRD!" is still funny even though no one from Lynyrd Skynyrd's original line up is even alive anymore. The pacing of the night also felt syncopated when the protracted conversations with the crowd were juxtaposed with claims they were up against a curfew and wanted to get as many songs in as possible. The Gaslight Anthem also detoured from their packed back catalog to cover Mother Love Bone's "Chloe Dancer" and "Would" by Alice in Chains.

The Gaslight Anthem

That being said, they brought the house down. The set included songs from all of their albums and most of their album The 59 Sound; including their new single "Positive Charge", "Handwritten", "The 59 Sound," and "Great Expectations." As much as the crowd was a mixed bag, they certainly came to sing along, and standing at the rail at times it felt like I was hearing as much vocals from behind me as I heard coming out the PA. The final twist I didn't see coming, was not only did they bring Emily Wolfe back to the stage to join them to close the night, but it turned out Brian was playing one of her guitars to boot! The show ended early, due to the aforementioned curfew at a very civilized 10:10PM, but I admit I was still singing along my whole drive home.

The Gaslight Anthem

Openers: Emily Wolfe, and Oso Oso

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