Monthly Archives: January 2006

Concert Review – Streetlight Manifesto

16 June 2005 @ Mr. Smalls (Pittsburgh, PA)

There seems to be a lack of press about Streetlight Manifesto which is a shame. On the net all I read is the same two paragraphs that their record label wrote to describe their sound and the story behind them, an oh-so-clever bit you can read here. Because of this lack of info, I decided to post my impressions of them as well as a review of their recent show at Mr. Small’s Funhouse in my wonderful hometown of Pittsburgh.

Kids in the know recognize the name Tomas Kalnoky as the nasal-voiced genius behind Catch 22’s Keasbey Nights, a ska-punk masterpiece that I still consider the pinnacle of the form and an album that has the distinction of being on my all-time Top 10. After Keasbey‘s success made Catch 22 way too big to fit into the Garden State’s infamous ska scene, the stresses of touring became too much for Kalnoky, who wanted a real life, to do human stuff, and to go to art and design school like a regular kid. So he passed the mic to a replacement, and Catch 22 toured off the success of his songs for the next few years, releasing a dismal follow-up to Keasbey that I won’t even endorse by naming and maybe a third album but it doesn’t matter. They only are still around because of the Keasbey songs. I saw the post-Kalnoky band twice, both with different lineups. Basically they are a cover band. Their new songs are only average, but competent mediocrity goes a long way in the punk scene so they are probably recording another album as I type. Whatever.

This show was part of Streetlight’s “last tour for awhile,” where they wanted to make sure everyone who was so inclined got a chance to see them before they went into reclusion to record a follow-up disc.

As I have read about and witnessed, Kalnoky usually dismisses requests for (his) Catch 22 songs with a bit of humor (“Catch 22? Is that a book?”) that likely conceals some serious bitterness (one line on the album: “If you hate me so much then stop singing my songs”). However, this time, he not only indulged in some recognition from his Catch 22 glory, he even incorporated it into the set. During Point/Counterpoint the band jumped into the middle of Keasbey Nights, which was not only fitting because the songs are near sequels of each other but also pretty damn cool to see. And he did this not once, but twice, inserting 9mm and a Three Piece Suit into the middle Everything Goes Numb. Those two moments were worth the price of admission.

The band played most of their only album, including “We Are the Few,” my personal favorite. The crowd was basically all fans as the opening bands were unknowns in Pittsburgh so overall it was a very enjoyable experience. The album, which, as expected, features a mature Kalnoky crafting some excellent arrangements, borrowing from influences as diverse as Eastern European folk music. As I noted, it is chock full of references to Keasbey Nights and any Catch 22 fan will likely love it, as will anyone looking for a break from the derivative slop that makes up most new music in general, and punk especially.