Live Review: Streetlight Manifesto at Exit/In, Nashville, TN


It was little over a month ago when Tomas Kalnoky, lead singer of Streetlight Manifesto, informed fans directly about the delay of The Hands That Thieve, the group’s forthcoming record in conjunction with Toh Kay’s (Kalnoky’s solo moniker) The Hand That Thieves. With humility in tow, Kalnoky apologized to fans and took complete accountability for the delay. While many would be e-slaughtered by this announcement, the New Jersey ska revivalists were greeted with the utmost understanding and acceptance. Thus is the ska community, and Nashville’s is no different. Exit/In packed in an excited crowd for Streetlight’s show this past Tuesday evening, and both musicians and fans alike had a hell of a time.

Instead of tapping Nashville’s local ska scene (Soul Radics, AKA Rudy, etc.), Streetlight Manifesto brought in two acts that are already touring with them, Lionize and Hostage Calm. Currently opening for Streetlight and then Less Than Jake in late December, Lionize are a non-ska outfit comfortably secure within the ska realm. Featuring electric organ and wah pedals alongside grizzly southern rock nuances, the group warmed up the evening with their own craft of funk-rock-jam band fusion. Hostage Calm, although interactive with the crowd, stuck safely to their pop punk routine and finished up just in time for the room to fill with a crowd more than ready for a skanking outlet.

Opening with “Everything Went Numb” from Everything Goes Numb, Streetlight started the show off with no hesitation. Every line was accompanied by gang vocals, and each passing horn sweep brought louder cheers. A major highlight of the setlist was an extended performance of “Forty Days,” which sculpted the 4ish-minute track from Somewhere In The Between into a ten-minute epic that that explored every musicians’ solo capabilities and the crowds’ collective dancing endurance.

Watching a Streetlight show is witnessing irony at its finest. As performers, they are one of the most entertaining ska outfits currently on the market – which is saying a lot if savvy with the ska scene. Likewise, each songs teems with energy and electricity that surges throughout tightly-packed crowds; however, the lyrical content often teeters on the edge of being a Paul Thomas Anderson script. Songs such as “A Better Place, A Better Time” and encore feature “Point/Keasby/Counterpoint” have audience members singing along to verses about the dark recesses of depression and suicide, but no one in the venue could be happier to do so.

We were also treated to a few new tracks from The Hands that Thieve. “Who Hides the Night (Oh Me)” has been in heavy rotation for Streetlight shows for some time now, but “Never Be Afraid” and “The Three of Us” have only been in circulation for a few months. Out of the three, “Never Be Afraid” packed the biggest punch with relentless drumming, Kalnoky’s token speed-singing and some of the highest notes I’ve heard performed live on a trumpet in a long while.

Occasionally there comes an act that puts on such an incredible live performance that there is no need for prior knowledge of their catalog to have an unforgettable time. Although I don’t consider many bands to hold this talent, Streetlight is one of the valiant few. So here is the official endorsement: if you enjoy concerts where the band is having as much fun as you, then check out Streetlight for the perfect blend of musicianship, humbleness and, most importantly, a damn fun night.


Everything Went Numb
We Will Fall Together
The Three of Us
Down, Down, Down to Mephisto’s Cafe
Never Be Afraid
Forty Days
Watch It Crash
A Moment of Silence
Who Hides the Night (Oh Me)
A Better Place, A Better Time
Somewhere in Between


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