Sunday, June 26, 2011

Live Review: The Bouncing Souls @ The Middle East, 6/23/11

After talking to bassist Bryan 'Papillon' Kienlen for a few minutes several hours before he and his band went on stage, he admitted that Friday night's show would be better. "Ok, well tonight and tomorrow. It's those albums where we really hit our stride."


Those albums he's referring to - The Bouncing Souls, Hopeless Romantic, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, and Anchors Aweigh - are being played in their entirety as part of a series of shows the Souls are currently touring on: 8 albums, 4 nights in 8 cities around the world. Boston (Cambridge if you want to get picky) was one of those cities, as the band played The Middle East four nights in a row as part of their 20th anniversary victory lap. Thanks to Newbury Comics for hooking-a-brotha-up-propa, I was able to get into the sold-out second night of the stop, which included the band playing their self-titled 1997 album and (my personal favorite) 1999's Hopeless Romantic.

Blaring the Rocky theme as the lights go out is one of the biggest clich├ęs in live performance, but tonight was an exception. A bell was dinged and a 'hot chick' came out holding a large foam-board printing of the first album the band was to play whilst an announcer told us the 'stats' of the album. Light-hearted, fun, and border-line corny, just like the band that took the stage. With the charging 'Cracked,' the band powered through The Bouncing Souls appearing slightly off. Singer Greg Attonito in his standard shirt and tie had a glazed look in his eyes, as though he really had to concentrate on remembering the lyrics to this 14 year old album, and the band kept the banter mostly to a minimum during the first set. At a 'punk show,' though, it's not about what the band is doing, really; It's about being sweaty and moshing around and yelling the lyrics and getting punched in the face. "Boston punks and skins," so goes the saying, "a rowdy bunch indeed."

*Not my photo

After taking a break and allowing 'Round 2' to commence, the band re-emerged much more loose and laid-back. All smiles, they jumped right into the title track of Hopeless Romantic and things went much more smoothly. I was just as happy to hear 'Kid,' 'Bullying the Jukebox' and 'Fight To Live' as the rest of the crowd, and for a minute I felt as though it was 1999 and I could go tell everyone about this 'cool concert' I went to in my 6th grade Social Studies class.

The Bouncing Souls didn't need to try to impress anybody after all this time. They have a solid fan-base that just wants to recapture the glory of the days gone by. People may not hold punk rock in the same high regard as other underground genres, but the fans don't seem to mind - especially if a band that's been around for 23 years thanks you by playing all of their albums over four nights in your city.

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