#BandsYouNeedToSeeLiveBefore YouDie: The Bouncing Souls

8 Jul

Things are starting to come into focus here at the #StrongMove. We just finished up our run of #BallinOnABudget posts, but stay tuned because more may be coming in the future. Actually, scratch that, WILL be coming in the future. But for now, I’m going to add another series I’ve had in my mind for awhile. #BandsYouNeedToSeeLiveBeforeYouDie

Look for approximately one of these a week, but don’t fret y’all. There’s ANOTHER series I have in the works as well, sure to knock your socks off. That will also run approximately one per week, and that will be co-run by a special guest and friend of the #StrongMove, Dr. Klioze. I don’t wanna divulge what it’s about yet, but I can’t wait to start it.

That puts us at a guaranteed two posts per week, bare minimum. Plus, other random features and quick posts myself or my partner in crime, Uncle Oakley, put up in the meantime. For the most part, expect at least one thing posted by us everyday. That’s what we’re looking at, two posts of which are part of two different running series(es?). Still following me? Good, cause I’m not.

I’ve always been a music nerd and, being one, have been to more concerts than I can count. Over the years, I’ve certainly compiled some favorites. Let me just preface this by saying, this is not just me rehashing all of my favorite bands. It is kinda. But a good portion of these bands, about 80% of them, I started enjoying AFTER I saw them live. The band featured on our first installment is one such band.

I was first introduced to the Bouncing Souls by my high school buddy Nikita, who was really into the whole punk rock scene. I dug it I guess, I liked the Sex Pistols and The Ramones so when he asked me to join him to see the Souls at a show at Starland Ballroom, I said OK. Starland is one of my favorite small-sized trashy Jersey venues to see a show. I had seen Sum 41 a few years prior there and remember all the jailbait that swarmed the stage so I anticipated the same for The Bouncing Souls, maybe with some more lip piercings this time around. Plus, the show was cheap as shit. Sign me up.

There were a bunch of opening bands, some of them entertaining (Benchpress 3000, who had about ten people on stage, only half of them equipped with instruments, the others curling or, yep you guessed it, benchpressing), decent yet unintentionally funny (Leftover Crack, which started every song by saying that “This is a song about killing/wanting to kill cops), or downright boring (The Pietasters…sorry not really into the whole ska thing). But then, it was time for The Bouncing Souls.

The crowd started that whole buzzing thing that always happens before a show, but this felt a little different. When they kicked off their set, it was apparent that the Souls have a special connection with their fans, more so than I’ve seen with other bands, a symbiotic relationship with their fans based on nostalgia, grandiose guitar chords, and reminiscing about all the good times in your past while cherishing the present ones. That’s The Bouncing Souls in a nutshell. They definitely have that “Jersey feel” to them, which makes sense being that they’re from New Brunswick, which makes even more sense. Hard to explain unless you’ve lived in the Dirty Bruns. But they definitely hint at the storytelling, and the nostalgic and carefree feel of a Bruce Springsteen while blending the fast-paced nature of The Misfits. For me, they’ve become the soundtrack to wasting away my days in the suburbs on New Jersey with my boys just shooting the shit, and it all started that first night. Oddly enough, I didn’t move into New Brunswick til a few years later. Bruce is for everyone in Jersey; the Souls are for a select few and I became a part of that that first night in Starland.

The show was solid, they ripped through some standouts such as “Bryan’s Lament”, “Kids and Heroes”, “Anchors Aweigh”, “Kate Is Great”, “Punks In Vegas”, and of course, probably my favorite “True Believers.” I remember thinking it’s a shame that they’ve been around for so long and haven’t achieved the level of popularity the energy and passion they play with deserves. Within minutes, every member of the band is drenched in sweat, especially lead singer Greg Attonito and guitarist Pete Steinkopf. This was especially true the next time I saw The Bouncing Souls a few years later as part of the Warped Tour.

I had bought a t-shirt (a custom of mine at any show I go to…I need the souvenir) at the last Souls show so I decided to wear it to Warped, though that probably wasn’t the best decision being that the shirt was black. I figured I’d wear it anyway and be THAT guy (I have no problem being THAT guy, it’s OK to wear a jersey to a game, why not a band shirt? Though I will say, I’ve stopped doing it as much. People do need to grow up sometime I guess). I was front and center, pressed against the rail when they came on. They ripped into the first two tracks from “How I Spent My Summer Vacation”, probably my favorite album of theirs, and seemed even more into it than the last time I saw them. Greg was not shy in going into the crowd, crowd surfing, singing, and just having a blast, even though his fashion sense was probably worse than mine (he was wearing a long shirt and a tie) but he didn’t seem to care sweating his balls off.

Towards the end, as they were wrapping up their set, they said they had time for a few more songs. Now, I’m never one to do this, but considering how great of a time they were having, the fact they were in their home state, and that I was the only person with a Souls shirt on and he had come into the crowd near me multiple times, I screamed out for them to play “True Believers.” Other people started joining in. Guess what those bastards ripped into as their final song? Motherfucker even came out and shared the mic with me. A concert experience I’ll never forget

The band is finishing up a run at Highline Ballroom in New York City in which they are playing every single one of their albums over the four nights. They will continue touring way after that; they’re one of the bands that tour almost incessantly. So you really have no excuse not to check them out at some point. I leave you with a live video of their song “Kids and Heroes.”

Hey, where have I gone?
I used to be the one
Looking for a hero
In some far off place
Blindly ever forward
Never knowing all along
The truth was right here
In my own song


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