Bouncing Souls at First Avenue, 7/28/12

The Bouncing Souls backstage at First Avenue.
The Bouncing Souls backstage at First Avenue.

Bouncing Souls 
with Smoking Popes, The Menzingers and Luther
First Avenue, MInneapolis
July 28, 2012

The Bouncing Souls have a little over 20 years experience playing together as a band. Hailing from Jersey, the band stopped by First Avenue for an early all ages show in the mainroom.

Around 7:15, Chicago-based the Smoking Popes begin their set. The band is most identified with their song "Need You Around" featured on the Clueless Soundtrack. The crowd almost doubled as brothers Josh, Eli, and Matt Caterer (and unrelated drummer, Neil) played through their first song. "We're not going out, I only wish we were" singer Josh Caterer sheepishly crooned.

His sweet and tender voice melts over the band's jagged, energized chords. The crowd cheers and jumps along in excitement, and the environment is really friendly. An obviously cool dad watches over his pre-teen son while the boy aims his iPhone to record the set near the barricade. As the songs go by, the crowd becomes more fueled up. This took an effect on the band, who began to end more and more of their songs with high kicks and smoking riffs. They even coaxed some of the older folks out of the bar and onto the stage floor. 

After a brief set switch, the room went dark as the main stage screen began to rise. Ambient music filled the room, as the stage is revealed to contain old televisions stacked on either side. The TVs switched on all at once, their static solely lighting the room. Girls screeched. The Bouncing Souls one by one stepped onto the stage as the static continues and jumped into their first song of the night, "Static." Lights flashed on and the crowd went nuts. Suddenly no one's spot was stationary. Audience members quickly scurried away from the center as fans young and old pushed and shoved their way into the mosh pit. 

Following the sudden spot adjustments, it was easier to observe the band's appearance. It didn't necessarily match the music coming from the speakers. These guys were appropriately dressing their age. It was unexpected -- considering half the crowd was not even born at the time of their first release. Their stage presence was also a bit surprising. Aside from bassist Bryan Kienlen's expressive facial movements and occasional power stance, the band remained rather calm. The mic stand was removed from the center of the stage as lead singer Greg Attonito smoothly holds the mic with his left hand, clutching the cable with the other. However, this did not deter the quality of the music. It was actually baffling how this guy could nonchalantly project such an aggressive sounding voice. Most of the crowd didn't even observe this as the mosh pit grows to form a giant human tornado; absorbing anything in its punchy path. 

About halfway through the set, Attonito decided to get closer to the crowd. He crawled off stage and sat himself right on the barricade. This did not slow the pace a bit. Fans eagerly shoved their way to surround Attonito as he casually belted his lyrics down to them. It was almost like story time, but with more punching and kicking. As the song ended, he looked down to them and genuinely smiled, giving out as many high fives and fist bumps as he could. He returned to stage and as bassist Bryan Kienlen announced "It's been six years since we've played guys got a new sound enough, let's fucking play!" 

While the crowd was diverse in age, everyone really came together in the end. Older guys in their 30s were getting kicked and shoved by teenage girls in the mosh mix. Everyone shouted along the same words. Adults reminisced about times when they were younger and kids were making their own memories. 

Critic's Bias: 
I'm a Smoking Popes fan. I only ever briefly listened to the Bouncing Souls before, so it's an outsider's perspective. I've also never understood moshing. 

The Crowd:
An abundance of dyed hair, plaid skirts, Chuck Taylors, and fishnets. Other band T-shirts included Less Than Jake, Bad Religion and Dropkick Murpheys. During The Menzingers set, there were several groups of X marked 14-18 year olds hovering around the stage. Meanwhile in the bar area, the 21+ crowd schmoozed and boozed waiting for the band they grew up listening to.

Overheard in the Crowd:
"All these young kids are trying to act cooler and older...and all the old people are just trying to rekindle their youth" 

Random Notebook Dump:
There's always that one guy that tries to start a mosh pit at the most inappropriate times...

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