Words & Photos by Alan Snodgrass
The pride of the Garden State, The Bouncing Souls, are winding the way across North America in celebration of their 30th anniversary with a rotating cast of opening acts that included The Bronx, Skinny Lister and Sharp/Shock on this particular evening.
Sharp/Shock kicked things off early at 7 pm to a mostly empty room which is a shame because more people need to see this band. These guys have been working their asses off over the last few years and the fans are starting to take notice of their Jam-inspired jams. Always the pros, the trio blasted through a 30 minutes set including a cover of the Buzzcocks’ “Ever Fallen in Love” which they dedicated to the late, great Pete Shelley.
if you don’t know Skinny Lister, you should. Think of them as folk-punk in the vein of Flogging Molly but from London instead of Los Angeles, spitting out one foot-stomper after another. The crowd warmed to them quickly and were more than happy to indulge when vocalist Lorna Thomas passed around a jug of who-knows-what for the audience to share (that’d be a big ‘nope’ for me).
Next up, the mother f’ing The Bronx fronted by one of the all-time greats, Matt Caughthran who floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee … all smiles as he glides across the stage, feet seemingly never touching the stage, while blowing the roof off any joint as the band (including the mighty Joey Castillo on drums) blasts on undeterred by his antics. And of course there’s everyone’s favorite game of “where’s Matt” whereby he makes his way into the crowd with the mic. On this particular evening, Matt emerged poised on top of the wall of the obnoxiously-high second tier of the UC floor from which he proceeded to launch himself into the crowd below. Epic and always a tough act to follow but it’s The Bouncing Souls’ party and they would not have invited The Bronx if they didn’t think they’d be up to the challenge.
Wasting no time getting the crowd fired up, the Bouncing Souls took the stage and launched right into fan-favorite sing-along “Hopeless Romantic,” Greg Attonito looking dapper in a fedora and his trademark grin shining. And what’s not to smile about? 30 years and still packing rooms. That’s because Greg and original members Pete Steinkopf (guitar) and Bryan Kienlen (bass) along with more recent add George Rebelo on drums, have consistently delivered the catchiest of punk tunes.
The clearly-pumped crowd sang and danced along to a setlist that not surprisingly hit “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” hard but managed to celebrate the rest of the catalog as well (as any significant anniversary should!). The hour and ten minute set flew by, ending with Greg hopping off the stage for hugs with the front row. Here’s to thirty more years, gents!