Sunday, December 19, 2010

Summer Live Part II: Streetlight Manifesto

Felipe M

The following article is part of an ongoing series to wrap up my 2010 second half concert calendar. The next band to be featured is ska band (the term ska will be used interchangeably to describe the genre of ska-punk music) STREETLIGHT MANIFESTO.

July 2nd-Streetlight Manifesto @ The Metro: I’ve been waiting for a very long time to see this band live and finally had the pleasure of catching their performance over the summer. In an effort to hype this band to get more of my friends to attend this show, I created a few taglines to generate interest:


For those that don’t know who Streetlight Manifesto are, they are obviously a ska-punk band (that’s how I would categorize this band) whose biggest contribution to the scene is how easily their music transcends and streamlines from one music community to another. Their musical releases have received very high critical acclaim and strong word of mouth from not only the “ska community,” but also from music fans who loathe the musical genre (including this particular author). I believe the thing that separates this band from other ska bands like Reel Big Fish (I hate those guys) is that Streetlight have a more intricate, complex sound with relatively dark lyrics and subject matter, ironically done from an upbeat rhythm, that go beyond the typical ska songs (the ones that I have heard at least) about love, partying, and white, middle class, teenage angst. It’s like listening to Rancid, but--with a horns section (just kidding)—without the over-the-top Joe Strummer-like vocals. Their latest release is a collection of cover songs called 99 Songs of Revolution.

Coming at the heels of success from having so many people come out for the Thrice concert, I was able to talk a co-worker and her boyfriend to come out to the show, only for them to cancel at the last minute, which left me with two extra tickets in my hand. That would open the door for my girlfriend to come out for our SECOND SHOW EVER AS A COUPLE! Wow! After 5 years not attending a single show, we’re together for two in a row? “Wow” is definitely the word! So she was able to snatch one ticket, and I was able to sell the other ticket to a friend of a friend of a friend—of a friend? Plus my usual posse, Ricardo and Devon, were there as well bringing the total to four in the group.

For this show, I just stood on the sidelines and watched from a flanked position. It was hot at The Metro that night. I wasn’t even in the pit area and I was profusely sweating. Naturally, as the show went on, it got muggier, more boiling, sweltering, sultry, scalding, oven-like, (add your own adjective here). And of course, the reason it was so hot for the standing-room only crowd was because Streetlight Manifesto was lighting The Metro on fire from the stage.

(For this show’s setlist, click here) The band did a good job balancing out the song selection from both Everything Goes Numb, Keasbey Nights, and Somewhere in the Between. (If I were this universe’s sultan, I would proclaim that every band that wants to perform live HAS TO find a way to balance their setlist in this manner). The only song done from Revolutions was a cover of the Dead Milkmen’s song, “Punk Rock Girl.” During their performance of the song, I slyly used that time to serenade my girlfriend:

Punk rock girl give me a chance
Punk rock girl let's go slamdance
We'll dress like Minnie Pearl
Just you and me punk rock girl

Not even an artist would have been able to erase the smile from her face as I sang to her. Take notes fellas. Other highlights of this show was something that has gone on without much of my attention as it has become clearly empirical that the songs “Point/Counterpoint” and “Keasbey Nights” sound pretty damn similar. Observe if you will:

  • Point/Counterpoint-- “I've got a gun in my hand but that gun won't cock
And my finger's on the trigger but that trigger seems locked
and I can't stop staring at the tick tock clock
and even if I could I would never give up.
With a vest on my chest, a bullet in my lung
I can't believe I'm dying with my song unsung.
And if and when I die won't you bury me alone?
'Cause I'll never get to heaven if I'm singing this song.”
  • Keasbey Nights—“ When they come for me, I'll be sitting at my desk
With a gun in my hand, wearing a bulletproof vest singing
"My, my, my, how the time does fly, when you know you're going to die
By the end of the night." And said hey”

Streetlight did a great job putting both songs together and seamlessly streamlining from “Point” to “Keasbey” and finishing strong with “Point.” It was a very cool experience to have both songs played together in that manner.

Another highlight of this show was when they played “We Are the Few,” which starts out in a fast-paced, verse-chorus-verse-chorus pattern before it slows down. Right before it gets to the “slow” part, I turn to my girlfriend and tell her, “This has been the best night of my life.” She grinned and asked, “Why? Because I’m here with you tonight?” The timing of the whole sequence was perfect as lead singer/guitarist Thomas starts crooning “This has been the best night of my life…” The look on her face as she rolled her eyes away from me was priceless. It is little things like this that makes going to these shows so enjoyable.

One exchange that occurred during the show happened between my girlfriend and I when frustrated and bothered by the heat and the long, unfamiliar songs, she turned to me and asked “All these songs sound the same! How can you tell them apart?” I thought about it for a second and replied “Repetition. How else do you tell apart one shitty Brittney Spears song from another? You hear the songs 40-50 times per day on the radio. The same rule applies.” I don’t think she was satisfied with that answer, but by the end of the night, my bubblegum pop-oriented girlfriend was observing how the people in the pit were dancing along to the songs and she picked up on it rather quickly and started emulating the dance rather well. She’s such a closet skank.

Overall, it was a great show, but I do wish they would have played “Failing, Flailing.” I also thought I could go on without having to listen to Keasbey Nights, but now I’m more curious about this album and will probably go get it. This show has potential to end the year in the top 5 of my rankings.

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