As I walked up to Baby’s All Right this past Thursday evening, Ron Gallo was laughing with friends outside, which made me smile. It made sense that he would be chilling with people he likes near the door of the venue of his sold-out show instead of hiding out somewhere in the back waiting for his big entrance. Gallo’s most recent release, Foreground Music (read our review), clearly shows his poetic lyrical talents with a heavy-hitting mix of sharp social critique and intimate honesty paired with a nuanced musical sensibility ranging from raucous post-punk to moving guitar ballads. The people lining up to get into the Baby’s back room were buzzing with excitement, and Gallo and company more than lived up to anyone’s expectations.
Gallo and his band instantly got the crowd bouncing with “Please Yourself” (from his 2017 album, Heavy Meta), and then kept the energy high with a series of songs off of the new album including “Entitled Man,” the title track, “At Least I’m Dancing,” and “Yucca Valley Marshalls.” Gallo possesses a delightfully quirky stage presence and his songs are simultaneously rocking and wise. The audience bopped about cathartically as he crooned the difficult truths of post-post-modern life, like in the chorus of “Foreground Music”: “I take my life pills one day at a time / My favorite thing to do is lie awake and panic.” And what makes panic go away like dancing? A question asked and answered in the catchy “At Least I’m Dancing” because the world may be going to hell in a hand basket but at least we can try to keep it moving as we burn. You know Ron Gallo understands this, and his band understands this (that’s Josh Friedman on drums, Chiara D’Anzieri on bass, and Jerry Bernhardt on guitar).
My favorite moment of the night, though, brought the energy to a more somber place with the beautiful “I Love Someone Buried Deep Inside of You,” Foreground Music’s most melancholy track about being in love with someone who’s struggling with addiction. But Gallo and company left on a more raucous note, and finishing off the set with “Put the Kids to Bed” and “Kill Medicine Man” (again from Heavy Meta). Gallo and D’Anzieri flew across the stage knocking over microphone stands and anything else they could get their hands on, channeling the destructive energy of their punk rock forebears. The fans went nuts as they should have, and the only big regret was that Baby’s had to end the night early to get things started for their late night DJ party. But so it goes with the hustle and churn of venues trying to survive in NYC, and Mr. Gallo joked about the time pressure to rush off the stage with both sarcasm and good spirit, true to form.
Scroll down for pics of the show (photos by Ray Rusinak)