Twenty years is a long period of time, by any standard. Since forming in the late 1980s, The Bouncing Souls have released seven full-length albums and numerous other works including splits, EPs, compilations, and live albums. In 1991, the band debuted with Ugly Bill EP, a low budget recording by a handful of twenty year old punks. In 2009, the band continues to assert their relevance in a digital age by the unique approach of issuing one song per month (available for download) until December, at which point the songs will be collected and issued on a proper full-length (that is, if “proper full-length” is even a term that will continue into the next decade.) To celebrate the band’s storied history, the New Jersey quartet (named for the Doc Martens shoe company slogan “with bouncing soles”) as directed and starred in a brief “television episode” set to air at the first of four anniversary shows in New York City and Philadelphia.
On a humid night in Manhattan at 6:30PM, Webster Hall opened its doors to a line of fans that wrapped around 11th Street. By 7PM, the television special began playing on the enormous screens set up on stage. Showcasing their latest video (“Airport Security”) and some comedy routines, the episode was a great way to relax before the show began.
None More Black started the evening with their blend of melodic hardcore-punk. Drawing primarily from This is Satire (2006), the band also mixed in some new material from their upcoming full-length. Frontman Jason Shevchuk stated how impressed he was with The Bouncing Souls’s twenty year run, commenting that he couldn’t stay in a band for more than two years (a reference to his previous bands Bound, Kid Dynamite, and Onguard). None More Black sounded great during their thirty minute set, warming up the crowd for their New Jersey brothers who would take the stage slightly after 8PM.
Opening with “Turnpike Gates”, Lifetime immediately captured the entire crowd. Forming a few years after The Bouncing Souls, the New Jersey five-piece was a staple and major influence to the blooming eastcoast hardcore-punk scene before disbanding in 1997. Without a stage-barrier and no security, the band encouraged the crowd to open enormous pits and to stage dive throughout the show; the fifteen hundred-person venue felt tiny and warm (and not just because of the excessive humidity). Frontman Ari Katz sounded as young as ever, gracefully slurring through the band’s verses in his trademark style.
Dan Yemin (who played with None More Black’s Shevchuk in Kid Dynamite) and the rest of the band sounded on-point; “Daneurysm” into the winding “Rodeo Clown” was one of the slickest moments of the evening. The band picked the strongest selections from their self-titled reunion LP (on Decaydence Records), including “Just a Quiet Evening” and single “Airport Monday Morning”. Appropriately, Hello Bastards closing track “Ostrichsized” finished off Lifetime’s forty-five minute set shortly after 9PM.
The Bouncing Souls exploded with 1997’s “Manthem” and didn’t stop for sixty minutes, reaching as far back as their 1994 full-length debut, The Good, The Bad, And The Argyle (“I Like Your Mom”, “Old School”) and performing excellent of covers of The Misfits (“Hybrid Moments”) and Avoid One Thing (“Sheena”). “Gasoline” and “Ghosts of the Boardwalk” were the only songs recorded in 2009 to make the set, meaning the crowd had years to learn the lyrics to the rest of the songs. It showed: every song was a singalong, complete with frontman Frontman Greg Attonito sharing the microphone with fans who surfed on stage.
The band sounded great throughout the set, engaging rabid fans the entire time. Even at forty years old singing decade-old songs like “Quik Check Girl”, Attonito was sincere and energized. Dual string-based assaults from Pete Steinkopf and Bryan Kienlen barely stopped, with the only break coming when a man in a wheelchair crowdsurfed onto the stage.
“True Believers” finished The Bouncing Souls set before chants of “Ole” (a Hopeless Romantic take on the classic fight song) brought the band back to an encore of “hey, hey, hey” shouts and Michael McDermott’s driving drums on “The Gold Song”. The penultimate “Kids and Heroes” from 2003’s Anchors Aweigh was warmly received before the band finished with the excellent “Night on Earth”. The full set (to the best of my memory; it deviated slightly from the written list):
Sing Along Forever
Lean On Sheena (Avoid One Thing cover)
Fight To Live
Hybrid Moments (The Misfits cover)
Ghosts of the Boardwalk
Ballad Of Johnny X
You’re So Rad
I Think That the World
Quik Check Girl
The Gold Song
Kids And Heroes
Night On Earth
For a few hours, 2009 felt like the mid-1990s all over again. Both opening bands performed excellent sets, and The Bouncing Souls honored their two-decade-long legacy well with a great setlist and performance. Lifetime played the next evening in New Brunswick before rejoining The Bouncing Souls in Philadelphia as part of the Souls’s brief four-night set of anniversary shows.
For more photographs of the evening, please check out the incredible work of Dan Gonyea.
inTuneMusic is very interested in any submissions/corrections from this evening including photographs, setlists, and audio/video. Please contact us, you will receive complete credit for any submission.