Being born and raised on the East Coast, specifically in Pennsylvania, I was exposed to a lot of great bands from the area. Living only 30 minutes from New Jersey and an hour from Philadelphia, I’ve been lucky enough to see the same bands multiple times a year. One band I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen is The Bouncing Souls. I feel if you are anywhere near New Jersey, you’ve probably seen the Souls at least once, and I can bet you walked away saying, “That is a great band, and they put on a great show.”
The Bouncing Souls are a band for the people (fans), and it shows in everything they do. The biggest example can be heard on their latest album Ten Stories High, which showcases stories about their fans. Being a band for almost 35 years, they have plenty of stories and material to write more albums, but this time, they put the subject of the album in the hands of their fans.
Another great thing about the Souls is, you can bet the opening bands will be great, let it be a tour, their Stoked For The Holidays or Summer shows, or a random show, they always handpick the best lineup. For this tour that is supporting Ten Stories High, they have multiple bands supporting different legs and each lineup is a punk rock dream. From classic punk bands like Anti-Flag and A Wilhelm Scream to new bands like Catbite and Blind Adam, the Souls have something for everyone on this tour.
For this leg of the tour, The Bouncing Souls brought along Samiam, Swingin’ Utters, and the opening band Pet Needs. As an opening band, Pet Needs knew the assignment and they exceeded it. They had great energy, got the crowd involved, and told stories about what it is like being in America on this tour. They kept the crowd engaged and definitely gained new fans. They even had a fan, which drove 3,000 miles, come up on stage and sing along to one of their songs. They are a top tier one of the best new punk bands to come out recently. Don’t be surprised if you start hearing the name Pet Needs more frequently in music conversations.
Just like the Bouncing Souls, Swingin’ Utters have been going at it for almost 35 years and they still display an exquisite show. The duel vocals of Johnny Bonnel and Darius Koski are always the highlight of Swingin’ Utters. Where Johnny has an angry punk voice and stage presence, Darius compliments it with his calming and soothing voice. This combination always set Swingin’ Utters apart from other bands in their circle. Their set hit on almost every album they put out with them playing at least one song from each album, which, as they progressed through their set, caused the pit to get bigger and bigger. By the time they finished, the crowd wanted more, and they didn’t have to wait long for Samiam.
Samiam have always been a band I’ve wanted to see live, but never got a chance to until now. I grew up on buying cheap compilations, and Samiam’s old label, Hopeless Records, always put out the cheapest of the cheap compilations which included so many bands. This is where I discovered Samiam and became hooked, but I never got to see them live.
Now with a new album, Stowaway, Samiam I am are going again at full force. For how long they’ve been a band they have their live show down to a science. There isn’t much talking in between songs, they are tight in how they play, and their objective is to play and make sure you enjoy the show. With a set that focused on Astray and their latest album Stowaway, Samiam put on a flawless show. For me, this was a great first-time show because I got to hear two of my favorite albums by them. Hearing the new material live was great, since Stowaway is in my top 10 of 2023. Since this is the last night of this leg, I am sure they will have more tour dates soon because I can’t wait for the next time I see them live and maybe it will be their headline show.
Having seen The Bouncing Souls in their home state many times, I have a different perspective of their live shows. For most bands, their hometown shows are usually different since there are more friends and family in attendance which makes the energy different. Now living miles away from the East Coast, I thought seeing The Bouncing Souls in a different state would be much different than a New Jersey show.
I was wrong. In fact, I think the energy was the same if not better! The Bouncing Souls played Dallas like they would play New Jersey. Also, for how many times I’ve seen The Souls, not once has there been crowd surfing, and in Dallas, there was a constant flow of fans doing it. Greg Attonito even commented on it by saying that when someone comes on stage, he is impressed they can get up here for how tall it is. It reminded him of a venue in Philadelphia called The Trocadero or The Troc. Besides The Bouncing Souls, I was probably the only other person in that room that knew that venue and had seen many shows there. That reference alone made me think, am I at a New Jersey Souls show? The talking in-between songs was about the East Coast, and it truly felt like a hometown show.
For over an hour, the Souls played about 25 songs that spanned their history including their latest album Ten Stories High. I was also shocked that they did an acoustic number. This was something I always thought the New Jersey crowd got, but Greg came out and did an acoustic rendition of “Ghosts On The Boardwalk.” This rendition, with this voice effect that gave me beach imagery, gave me flashbacks of always seeing them playing the Stone Pony Summer Stage each Summer. I don’t know how they do it, but The Bouncing Souls shows, no matter what state, make you feel like you are in a room with close friends and family. There is a different vibe at a Souls show and I don’t think there is another band that can recreate it. Even though I won’t be at their Stoked For The Summer show this year, this show filled that void. True Believers forever.
The Bouncing Souls