By virtue of being an over-enthusiastic fanboy, I got in line with my friends a full hour before the doors opened to Emerson Suites for the April 12th Streetlight Manifesto concert. My overzealous nature was rewarded when we were able to grab spots front and center, hanging onto the guardrail between the stage and the standing room. For the majority of the concert I was in spitting distance of Tomas Kalnoky, the front man and lead guitarist of Streetlight Manifesto, as well as Thomas Fuller, lead singer for Gypsy Gets Shotgun.
Gypsy Gets Shotgun, IC’s homegrown ska band, had the honor of opening up for Streetlight, with a killer stage presence. They have the typical ska band attitude, alternating fast-paced songs with chilled-out reggae bits, heavy on the horn section, and never taking themselves too seriously. Thomas Fuller, who looked like a cross between Beavis and Ferris Bueller, absolutely rocked the stage. It’s a shame that I couldn’t hear any of the lyrics he was singing.
My favorite piece was their ending number, “Everybody Dies”, which concluded with each band member stopping and walking off stage, one by one, until only the trombonist was playing alone. It was brilliant, but just a little bittersweet; the band had just reunited for this one show.
As we waited for the moment that Streetlight would take the stage, Kalnoky stepped on stage alone and caused an eruption of applause before merely setting up some wires, tuning his distinctive red guitar a bit and walking back offstage.
When they officially began, it was glorious. Most of their songs were from Somewhere In The Between, my personal favorite album. I was impressed at how faithful their live performance was to their album recording, the only difference being a few solos here and there.
They also showed off one of the new songs on their as-of-yet unreleased album The Hands That Thieve. Kalnoky made a point of telling everybody to make sure they “steal the shit” out of their new album. It’s comments like these that make me love the guy, but these shenanigans also cause the band to butt heads with its recording label.
About a third of the way through the show, I entered the mosh pit. In general, ska mosh pits are a bit friendlier than the stereotypical pits of hardcore and metal shows; it’s more like a frantic group dance than a hectic melee. Half the pit was baked or skanking like fiends, and the extent of the “moshing” was mostly shoving and being shoved.
The staff made an announcement that any crowd surfers would get the boot. This did little to stop anyone, seeing that any given moment there were at least two people riding on top of the crowd’s outstretched hands.
All in all, I wish Kalnoky had just interacted with the crowd a bit more, outside of the “Hello Ithaca”, and asking which songs we wanted to hear. He did poke fun at the one photographer in the audience, but aside from a few brief moments, we might as well have been any other crowd at any other college for all the band seemed to care.