Nearing the end of an extensive tour, The Bouncing Souls stopped in Boston, MA on Wednesday night, December 13 at the Royale. The New Jersey punk rock veterans and originators have been on the road celebrating their 2023 release, Ten Stories High. An album conceived during the pandemic, the band garnered lyrics from zoom-chats with fans over the crowd-funding platform Patreon. Hearing stories from their cohort, the band turned these words into fully formed songs for the album. The Bouncing Souls have always represented community, and this is a full-circle representation of them creating music for and with their extended punk family.
In a stacked set list, three of the tracks from the new album worked their way in. Familiar sing alongs consumed the rest of the evening. Many long time Bouncing Souls fans will likely agree adamantly however, that “Olé” is the heartbeat of their joie de vivre. Understanding this fan favorite, the band opened with a brief chant of this before diving into “That Song” from 2001’s How I Spent My Summer Vacation. Rather appropriately to the band’s mission, they continued on with “Sing Along Forever.”
Singer Greg Attonito shimmied and swayed across the stage, pantomiming golf swings, walking with a cane, and/or running in a tight circle with the cheeky swagger of an 11-year-old performing in their first school play. This has long been his stage presence. It is endearing, earnest, and buoyant, flowing jubilantly with the music. He extends the mic to the audience, collecting as many harmonies as possible from the sea of contributing voices. Crowd-surfing vans reach to bump fists or get their favorite line captured into Greg’s mic.
Bryan Kienlan’s bass rumbled through each track. Watching his old Fender jazz bass swing with each jump and celebratory elevation—I pondered the stickers. I’ve seen this guitar, these stickers, for well over two decades. I’ve read that the 1966 bass is from my hometown of Cincinnati, though I wonder if those stickers get swapped out. On stage left, Pete Steinkopf strummed his paint-chipped 1979 Gibson Les Paul Custom. Seeing these two instruments each time is just as invigorating as they’ve been a part of the Souls story forever. They’re additional band members.
Fans of diverse age bracket were present to witness the long-time road warriors on this evening. As some fans have reached their fourth and fifth decades, they brought their kids. The circle pit genuinely became a family friendly space. Nine-year-olds were learning to skank dance like a Shawn Kerri illustration alongside their punk elders. Enjoying the music with a cross-generational expression of dance may seem counterintuitive to “punk,” but hey—as the Souls say on their Maniacal Laughter album, “No rules!” Punk is expressive and progressive.
Hardcore, positive punks 7 Seconds opened just before. They filled in this leg of the tour for the disbanded Anti Flag. Singer Kevin Seconds belted out his notes as his braids thrashed around his face from underneath a ballcap. With his cap and glasses, he looks like an older sibling of Keith Morris. Their set was fast, full, and uplifting. It immediately had me putting their albums on the next day.
Catbite of Philadelphia were on just before them. With ska songs and bright colors across the full band, their live set was awesome to see. I’ve only previously seen photos and heard them on recordings, so to catch the live energy was great to see. It lived up to what I had imagined in my mind. And bonus! Singer Brittany Luna even joined Attonito during the Bouncing Souls’ set to sing “Wish Me Well.”
The Bouncing Souls