My Weekend With The Gaslight Anthem

By Melanie Wolfson

This past weekend, I put friends (and a term paper) on hold, because one of my favorite bands -- the Gaslight Anthem — was in town ... twice. Sort of.

After seeing my fellow New Brunswick, NJ natives perform time and time again since their debut in 2007, it was a no brainer that I’d be at both area shows on their first-ever U.S. headlining tour, Friday night at New York's Webster Hall, and then Saturday, at the Trocadero in Philly. This was more important than some term paper.

So, was it worth it? Or, would my heart be broken by the fact that Gaslight, a band I could once claim as my very own, have now moved on to headlining tours and mainstream acclaim. And did I ever finish that term paper? Well, read on to find out.

At the kickoff ot their The ’59 Sound tour (the Webster gig), I learned to accept the fact that the Gaslight Anthem will no longer be playing in houses or at the Court Tavern, the local New Brunswick bar. I guess I'm willing to accept that fact. Still, I’m not sure what was more shocking- that crowdsurfers emerged from the sea of rowdy fans, or that seeing these guys now entails paying $8.00 instead of $2.75 for a beer. Either way, it’s clear that the band now has a huge following. Even the security guards were singing along.

Another sign that I was in uncharted waters ... Gaslight are now playing clubs with V.I.P. sections, something I discovered by accident at Webster Hall. I still don’t know how I ended up there, but I had a great balcony view nonetheless. And it was pretty amazing to watch the band's new crowd -- not just kids with Mohawks, but parents with kids in tow -- take in the show.

On Saturday, I brought my 14-year-old brother along, who, thanks to the guidance of his older sister, is a big Gaslight fan. The show ended up being even better than the first night, since we nabbed front row spots, and I had made the drive to Philly for the first time without getting lost. I enjoyed watching my brother take in the performance; as his first real concert, I can tell frontman Brian Fallon and the rest of the Gaslight guys have one more lifelong fan.

And while it’s strange to see the Gaslight Anthem on bigger stages now, one thing remains the same- the band is staying true to their Jersey roots and will still play smaller shows when they have the time, despite their growing fame. I already have my tickets to their double dose weekend of performances in May at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, and already can’t wait.

Hopefully I won't have another term paper due then.