Bouncing Souls return to the Stone Pony
ASBURY PARK - "It's getting harder and harder to figure out how to play the same 50 songs every year," said Greg Attonito, front-man of the Bouncing Souls, to a sold out assemblage in congregation to view opening night of the group's 5th Annual Home for the Holidays four-night residency at the boardwalk's most hallowed house of music, the Stone Pony. "We're just happy all of you still want to hear them. Thanks for coming out."
A band of few words, the Garden State's most legendary punk outfit to emerge from the basements of New Brunswick have a knack for transforming the grandest of stages into those humble dwellings of yesteryear, and Tuesday's 29-song set, affixed into a tidy 82 minutes of riotous, sweat-drenched, aggression and charisma, was no different, save for how the aforementioned setlist was constructed.
Last year, the Souls opted to play their eight full-length releases from front to back, two per night, serenading Pony patrons with selections not performed in years. On Tuesday, the outfit relied on local punk-rock personality Pete Peterson to pick ping pong balls from an antique bingo machine, each plastic sphere with a different tune jotted upon it.
"Out of fairness," expressed the band's bass plucker Bryan Kienlen, seemingly in jest, "we put everyone of our songs in that machine, even the ones we don't we don't really want to play."
"It should be easy," added Attonito, "since we know most of our songs by now."
Respect breeds respect and show-goers prayers to the piece of machinery that held their fates were answered in grand fashion causing Kienlen to remark, "This setlist is better than anything we've ever written."
The Pony's concrete dance floor flooded with swirling whirlpool mosh pits of rage and jubilation to a selection of salvos spanning the Souls' catalogue such as The Good, The Bad & The Argyle classics "I Like Your Mom" and "Inspection Station," as well as a crowd pleasing rendition of the Hopeless Romantic title-track, and a new number named "Infidel" that will appear on the collective's recently announced forthcoming full-length, followed immediately by "Anchors Aweigh."
After 26 songs, the band returned for a three-song encore consisting of "E.C.F.U," another new unity inspiring track titled "Baptize," and a fitting closer in "True Believers."
The Bouncing Souls shared the stage with a pair of Pennsylvania products, White Wives (featuring Chris Barker and Chris Head of Anti-Flag), and the hardcore-punk juggernaut Title Fight, but none as impressive as the Monroe, NJ outfit and opener, Blacktop Kids.
The Jersey collective tore through a 13-song scorched-earth set consisting of such tunes as "Sweep The Leg," the charred opening number on the band's debut full-length, Right In The Street (2011), and new music in the form of its latest single "Streetlights" as well as the title track from the group's forthcoming EP Complex.
Check out Blacktop Kids on the first Punk Night of the new year at Asbury Lanes on Wednesday, Jan. 4, and, if you happen to live in Europe, don't miss the Bouncing Souls on tour with Dropkick Murphys from January 26th to February 11th.
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