Streetlight Manifesto take on Silver Spring

Streetlight Manifesto take on Silver Spring

By Evan Ruderman, Round Table executive producer

I was originally introduced to Streetlight Manifesto through my bass guitar teacher, who thought that I would enjoy their complex and very quick bass lines. However, I quickly came to appreciate all aspects of the band, from their unconventional lead singer to the masterfully written rhythm sections.

In addition to the regular staples of a rock band, Streetlight Manifesto is known for their introduction of an entire brass section to most of their songs, including several saxophones. However, unlike the majority of contemporary ska bands, their horn lines are complex and smooth instead of brash and corny.

To recap for those unaware, ska is a genre which originated in Jamaica during the 1950s, and was characterized by walking bass lines and rhythms on the off beat. Ska has gone through several waves of popularity, and evolved each time, eventually becoming famous for upbeat horns and a punk-like quality.

The aspect of Streetlight Manifesto’s music that makes it so different from regular ska is that is doesn’t restrict itself to the accepted norms of ska music, and that gives their music a special quality. From their very first album in 2003, “Everything Goes Numb”, it was clear that they had transcended genres to create a style that only they had. Since, each album of theirs has added on to this style, and culimnated in their 2013 release, “The Hands That Thieve”.

So, having learned all of this, I naturally had to see them live. I attended their concert at The Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland, on Oct. 30. I was most excited to see the dynamic of the horns on stage, and arrived an hour early to wait before the doors opened. This turned out not to be necessary, as not many people came early, and I was able to get into the venue without any trouble. The Fillmore is standing room only, and I used this to my advantage by being able to make my way very close to the stage.


After this, the waiting game began. The show began with an opening act, an artist named Sycamore Smith. Smith offered a strange take on folk music, complete with unnecessarily edgy lyrics and kazoo solos. His music was not bad, but with the anticipation of Streetlight on the horizon, I was not very impressed.

After Smith finished his set, there was a 20 minute break before yet another opening act began. At this point, people including myself were growing a little uncomfortable with the wait. The second opening act was once again not bad, but by now everyone was wondering where Streetlight was.

Finally, almost two hours after the billed time for the show, Streetlight Manifesto took the stage. Believe me, it was well worth the wait. After arriving on stage with quite a loud guitar intro, Tomas Kalnoky, the lead singer, looked at the crowd with a surprised look. “Oh, hi,” he quipped, before the entire band launched into a horn-heavy and powerful opening song.

Although the set was only around fifteen songs, every song they played was incredible, and worth the absurd wait. The crowd thought so, too, and I was quickly sucked into my first mosh pit, which was interesting. However, the crowd was still very polite and I only lost a shoe once.

It was clear throughout the concert how dedicated and passionate every member of the band was. The energy was palpable, from the drummer to the bassist to the horn players. What was an hour and a half concert felt like it flew by way too quickly.

Overall, the concert was one of the best I’ve seen, just in terms of musicality and enthusiasm. Although the wait for the show to begin felt like an eternity, it was an eternity that was all worth it as soon as the first song began. The ability to go see a band that really cares about their music and loves playing just as much as their fans love listening is truly special. I will be patiently awaiting their next concert.