At its most beloved, punk music has a distinct sense of humor underlying tight-as-a-tick licks and razor sharp songwriting. And that's why the Gaslight Anthem become better as they evolve away from punk and toward roots rock. This is a band as earnest as their name; there is no sense of irony waiting in the wings. And that's okay. At their best, they call to mind another perpetually earnest (and exceptionally brilliant) songwriter also from New Jersey. Apparently Brian Fallon dislikes comparisons to this guitar-wielding megastar, but embrace your roots, man, because that's when you're at your best. On last year's Handwritten, the Gaslight Anthem wear their influences a little too glaringly—there is a song called "Howl" and there is also an uncomfortably faithful cover/impression of Nirvana's "Sliver." However, the more Fallon embraces his inner Midwesterner and his working man's passion, the more believable the tunes. REBECCA WILSON
128 NE Russell, Portland, OR 97212
Hours: Ballroom open for events only, Cafe open: Tues-Sat 5 pm-"late"