Music / Streetlight Manifesto
Streetlight Manifesto is a ska-punk band formed by lead singer Tomas Kalnoky in 2002 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Tomas Toh Kay” Kalnoky formed his first band, Catch 22, in 1996. After two years, a demo, and their first album, Keasbey Nights
, Tomas left the band to finish school. In 2001, he gathered together two people from Catch 22, his brother, his brother’s friends, and several members of various other bands to form Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution. They released one EP, A Call to Arms
, in 2001 (they’ve had two full albums in the work since then as well).The same year, Tomas took five members of BOTAR and formed the band this page is about.
If you plan on buying any of their albums, buy it directly from them
: Victory Records aren't the best to work for.
- 2003: Everything Goes Numb
- 2006: Keasbey Nights
- 2007: Somewhere in the Between
- 2010: 99 Songs of Revolution: Vol. 1
- 2013: The Hands That Thieve / The Hand That Thieves
- 2002: Streetlight Manifesto Demo
The band and its work provide examples of:
- Album Title Drop: “Everything Goes Numb” in “If And When We Rise Again”.
- Arc Symbol: A streetlight, for obvious reasons.
- Author Appeal: Lots of Streetlight songs include references to guns, literature, religion, suicide prevention, and outcasts standing against the majority.
- Cover Album: Keaseby Nights by Catch 22. Somewhat ironic in that most of Streetlight performed on Keaseby.
- 99 Songs of Revolution: Vol. 1, too, but instead of covering an album, it covers different songs by various artists.
- Streetlight Lullabies and The Hand That Thieves are made of Toh Kay's acoustic covers of his own songs.
- You By Me: Vol. 1, in which Toh Kay covers five songs by Dan Potthast and Dan Potthast covers five songs by Toh Kay.
- You By Me: Vol. 2, in which Toh Kay covers five songs by Sycamore Smith and Sycamore Smith covers five songs by Toh Kay.
- Determinator: Frequently pops up in their lyrics. "The Hands That Thieve" is a good example:
I felt no pain till I was down and I was told that I was bleeding
And even then I knew I wasn't done
'Cause the wounds I get, they will just collect
Ensuring that I don't forget
Reminders of the battles that I've lost and that I've won
- Digital Piracy Is Okay: Here:
"...alternately, we’re sure you can find a way to get the tunes onto your computer that may not be, ahem, traditional… Speaking a Bit metaphorically, there is a Torrent of methods to accomplish this, and Google is your always loyal friend..."
- Distinct Double Album: The Hand That Thieves is an acoustic version of The Hands That Thieve.
- Downer Ending: "As The Footsteps Die Out Forever" opens with a young mother waiting for her children to arrive home from school before their weekend, a dispassionate doctor calls her and tells her that she has only weeks to live. The news shocks her so much that she spends the rest of her life nearly catatonic, and her son imagines it's because she's trying to distance herself and make her death less painful. Her son spends his time trying to provoke her to smile, react, anything, before her unnamed disease takes her from him forever. The final lines are a slower repeat of the chorus, with her (or his imagination) telling him to leave her behind and live his life.
- Epic Rocking: "A Better Place, A Better Time", breaks the six-minute mark, something rather unusual for ska.
- A lot of Streetlight songs are 5+ minutes long, despite the fact that they are fast and largely non-repetitive. Tomas has said in interviews that, when writing songs, he constantly adds in new parts and then can't bring himself to cut any of them.
- Evolving Music: “Dear Sergio” started as a Catch 22 song, before getting an acoustic version with a new verse, courtesy of Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution. Streetlight restored the original’s amped-up guitars but kept the new verse and sped up the tempo a bit.
- “Here’s To Life” and "They Provide the Paint for the Picture-Perfect Masterpiece That You Will Paint on the Insides of Your Eyelids" started as Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution songs before being turned into electrified Streetlight Manifesto songs.
- Many songs get the unplugged treatment by Toh Kay on Streetlight Lullabies.
- And The Hand That Thieves.
- Iconic Item / Iconic Outfit: Tomas plays a red Gibson ES-335 and wears a striped short-sleeve shirt, cargo pants rolled to the ankles, and a green military-style cap at nearly every show.
- "Join the Army," They Said: In 'Your Day Will Come'
They will lead him into battle
and hand him medals when he comes home rearranged
- Joisey: The band's home state. The album Keasbey Nights is named after the community where Tomas grew up, and most of the songs on said album can be presumed to take place there.
- Long Title: "They Provide the Paint for the Picture-Perfect Masterpiece That You Will Paint on the Insides of Your Eyelids", complete with title drop.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "The Saddest Song". Entirely peppy, with lyrics along the lines of
And it's the saddest song you'll ever hear
the most pain you will ever feel
but you grit your teeth because it don't get better than this.
- "As The Footsteps Die Out Forever" is an upbeat and happy song about the singer's mother getting sick and dying.
- Most songs on Keasbey Nights and quite a few on other albums qualify. It's a bit of a trademark for the band, and for ska in general.
- Motor Mouth: The band's singing in general, though there are exceptions. Exacerbated by Kanolky's dissertation-for-lyrics writing style, as there's so little repetition to the song (even the chorus, sometimes). If you want to listen to a new Streetlight Song, look up the lyric sheet first. You'll save yourself a lot of effort.
- The only words not spoken at amazing speeds in the entirety of "Everything Went Numb" are "Na na na na [bunch more na's] na.")
- This gets turned Up to Eleven during live shows, when the band will play songs 30-50% faster.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Streetlight Manifesto mix ska, punk, acoustic, big band, funk and hardcore. Fans of Streetlight Manifesto, and frontman Tomas Kalnoky's side project Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution (another genre-splicer, fusing acoustic, ska and Middle-Eastern influences), sometimes refer to this as "the fourth wave of ska".
- The Rival: There's definitely been some tension between Streetlight and Tomas's old band, Catch 22. Tomas's view is summed up nicely in this line from "A Moment Of Silence":
Like a child who believes he was wronged,
If you hate me so much, then stop singing my songs!
- Self-Backing Vocalist: Usually the "one man choir" effect, but sometimes the usual self-backing.
- Shout-Out: The artwork to 99 Songs Of Revolution is basically a collage of references to the artists they covered.
- Siamese Twin Songs: "A Moment Of Silence" and "A Moment Of Violence" on Everything Goes Numb.
- Stage Names: "Toh Kay" for "Tomas Kalnoky".
- The Something Song: "The Saddest Song."
- Title Track: "Keasbey Nights," "Somewhere In The Between," "The Hands That Thieve."
- You Are Not Alone: "A Better Place, A Better Time."
I know that you think that you're on your own,
but just know that I'm here
and I'll lead you home
if you let me.
- Unplugged Version: Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution, Streetlight Lullabies, and The Hand That Thieves.