Music · punk · Show Reviews

Show Review – Bouncing Souls, Masked Intruder, The Scandals, Irving Plaza, 12/15/16

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A few weeks ago, on a random Thursday night, I went from having no real plans to meeting and seeing one of my favorite punk bands play both a sound check and a full headlining set, all for the price of on the house.  This was all thanks to a contest I entered on Brooklynvegan.com via Twitter (which I really only use to enter contests such as these).  The winners were to get early access to the Bouncing Souls show at Irving plaza (night 1 of a 3-night tour), see them perform a soundcheck, meet and greet the band, and then be able to stay for the regular show later that night.  In the exaggerated words of Christ Traeger, it was literally the best night of my life.

I was told that the doors for the soundcheck opened at 4:30 and the event would begin at 5.  Luckily I was working from home at the time and could duck out easily, responding to emails when needed.  I grabbed my buddy who also works from home, and we headed down to Irving Plaza for 5 pm start time.

So they actually didn’t let us upstairs (where the band was playing), till about 5:30 or so, but with easy access to the bar with happy hour prices this didn’t phase us too much.  Then we got to go up, and it was literally the 20 people who won the contest, a few crew members, and the band.  It was definitely really cool to see these guys just fooling around, still in winter clothes since the venue was so cold without people in it, and actually practicing some of their older and more obscure songs, as well as some from their new album, since they didn’t know them as well as their live staples.  We learned that they were planning to do something special and unique each night of their 3-night run, and tonight was going to be a 4 song medley about BMX bikes, pulled primarily from their albums in the 90s.  After about a half hour of an essentially private show, the guys came out and spent some time talking to all of us.  And I must say, they were some of the nicest punk guys I had ever met.  We were able to engage in small talk with Pete, the guitarist, and Bryan, the bassist while shaking hands with all of them and taking a few pictures where we could.  Keep in mind this is a band I’ve been a big fan of for years and even made my most recent top 20 album list.

At that point it was only about 6:30 or so, and doors wouldn’t even open for another half hour.  I kept thinking, what the hell does the band do during all this waiting?  It reminded me of a few points made in Laura Jane Grace’s new book: each show is very scheduled in terms of load-in time, sound checks, and stage time, but there are hours in between all of this where the bands essentially have nothing to do.  Add the fact that most of the venues offer them free drinks, and it becomes a little easier to understand how musicians can fall into this cycle of binge drinking and other vices.

Finally, at around 8 pm the show actually began.  First up was The Scandals.  I’m not the biggest fan of them but have seen them a few times, including Jared Hart as a solo performer and backing guitarist for Brain Fallon.  I definitely respect their brand of gritty Americana punk rock (or orgcore as some people are calling this genre nowadays).  They performed a solid set and even threw in a little “American Girl” by Tom Petty during the end of one of their tunes.  I’m going to have to explore their discography a bit more, seeing as how they are so respected by many of the bands I love in this scene.

Next up was Masked Intruder.  This was a band I knew absolutely nothing about and tried to do a quick Google search on my phone, just to discover that they are gimmick band that wears face masks to cover their true identities.  While no words can fully describe the experience I had listening to them for the next 40 or so minutes, it included masked band members as the internet promised, slightly offensive jokes in some melding of a Jersey/Brooklyn accent, cheesy pop punk songs with song titles like “Hey Girl,” “Saturday Night Alone,” “With You Were Mine”, and a “security guard” who proceeded to jump in the crowd and join in mosh pits, eventually stripping down to a thong on stage.  While the stage show was more performance art than anything else in my opinion (and drew some comparisons to Peelander-Z), the songs are quite catchy.

At approximately 10 pm, the Souls approached the stage.  They ripped into a lot of their fan favorites, including the BMX interlude as promised, and just having fun with a crowd that knew the majority of their catalog.  As predicted, the majority of their set pulled from the 2000 fan favorite release, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, also my favorite release they’ve made.  Noticeably missing from their set was any stage diving.  The Bouncing Souls are infamously known for allowing fans on stage during their sets, but this was absent this time around.  Maybe this was due to restrictions from the venue, but I was surprised.  Nevertheless, they sounded great as always, and I loved hearing some of my favorites such as “Lean on Sheena,” “True Believers,” “Gone,” and “Kids and Heroes.”  I always thought the Bouncing Souls were a very good live band, but not a great live band.  Maybe it’s because they’re getting older (and I’m getting older), maybe it’s because lead singer Greg doesn’t play an instrument, or maybe it’s because I still have my pretentious undertones (and was hungover from a holiday party the previous night),  but hearing my favorite songs by these guys didn’t give me that amazing feeling I get when I hear other bands play some of my favorites.  I can’t really complain though, it was an amazing evening and I want to thank Brooklynvegan, Irving Plaza, and Bouncing Souls for creating a fantastic experience.

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Bouncing Souls Setlist:

  1. That Song
  2. Sing Along Forever
  3. East Coast! Fuck You!
  4. Kate is Great
  5. Driving All Night
  6. Say Anything
  7. Lifetime
  8. The Something Special
  9. Writing on the Wall
  10. Streetlight Serenade (To No One)
  11. East Side Mags
  12. The BMX Song
  13. Bullying the Jukebox
  14. Lamar Vannoy
  15. Lean on Sheena
  16. Punx in Vegas
  17. True Believers
  18. The Ballad of Johnny X
  19. Hopeless Romantic
  20. Kid
  21. Manthem
  22. Kids and Heroes
  23. Here We Go!
  24.  Up To Us
  25. Gone

Additional Links:

Brooklynvegan Review and Photos

Encore Fan Video

“Manthem” Fan Video

Setlist.fm Post

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