Review: Punks Go Solo at Summit Music Hall

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When a singer decides to go "go solo," one can't help but wonder about the circumstances surrounding the decision. Was there bad blood with the performer's former bandmates? Were there financial problems? Or was it simply a decision to branch out musically, allowing them to stretch their musical capabilities?

Monday night's show at Summit Music Hall featured two singers from prominent punk bands, Chis Farren from Fake Problems and Brian Fallon from the Gaslight Anthem, who both sought to prove they are just as engaging without their former bands. 

Farren, one of the nicest people playing music today, opened the show, which was a makeup date from a March concert that got snowed out. Farren played a solo acoustic set that borrowed songs from Fake Problems as well as several songs that will appear on his upcoming solo debut. Farren's former Fake Problems guitar player, Casey Lee, who left the group in 2012 but still tours with Farren, is reported to have also contributed to the album. While no announcement was made regarding Fake Problems' future, the band has not released an album since 2010's Real  Ghosts Caught  on Tape. Farren, however, has remained busy, playing solo, collaborating with Jeff Rosenstock on the excellent Antarctigo Vespucci and releasing possibly the best Christmas album of all time. 

Farren's perfromance was earnest and showcased his talent as a songwriter and singer. 

Up next was Fallon. Unlike Fake Problems, the Gaslight Anthem did announce last year via its Facebook page that the band would be taking an indefinite hiatus. While the hiatus may have prompted Fallon to make the move to solo artist, he seems to have always dabbled with the idea, playing and recording solo acoustic music for years and releasing a solo side project of sorts: The Horrible Crowes, a collaboration with guitarist Ian Perkins that put out one album, Elsie, on Side One Dummy Records in 2011. 

A first listen to Fallon's solo debut, Painkillers, may leave listeners wondering what is so different about his solo music, since the basic structure is very similar to that of the Gaslight Anthem. However, Fallon's performance at the Summit proved that he is indeed branching into new territory and creating music that is more lush, lyrical and expansive. 

Fallon, fleshed out by a six-piece band, the Crowes, which included Perkins and Gaslight Anthem guitarist Alex Rosamilia, performed songs from Painkillers and Elsie but stayed away from performing any Gaslight Anthem material — a decision that hinted that Fallon and Rosamilia are perhaps saving those songs for an eventual Gaslight reunion.

Regardless, Fallon showed that despite the "break" from the band and songs he cut his teeth with, he is still an engaging performer and a gifted lyricist with an original style and voice. 

Because it was the Fourth of July, Fallon closed out the set with the apropos solo cover of Bruce Springsteen's "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)."

Fallon's solo career may never reach the heights of someone like Springsteen, but his new material solidifies him as a multi-talented and diverse musician capable of great things no matter who is playing behind him. 

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