When it was announced earlier this year, the For All the Unheard tour seemed like a dream come true for any long-time Bouncing Souls fan. Not only would the band be playing four consecutive nights in select cities–they would be playing each of their eight albums in chronological order over those four nights. They would even be playing at very small venues that would allow fans the chance to mingle with the headliners and the excellent bands tabbed as support acts. Could this marathon four-night stand live up to the high expectations fans would undoubtedly place on it? As you will see through my nightly reviews, the answer was "of course it could."
Night One: June 22, 2011. The Good, The Bad, And the Argyle. and Maniacal Laughter.
Night one would begin with the Bouncing Souls' first full length, The Good, The Bad, And the Argyle. Seeing that it was released in 1994, there were plenty of fans in the audience who weren't born when it hit shelves. This was practically true of the night's other featured album, 1995's Maniacal Laughter, as well, and it seemed to have some effect on the crowd's reaction to the set. While there were the diehards at the front who sang along to every word, many in the sold-out crowd seemed less than familiar with the older material.
While I didn't sense the same type of energy normally found at a Bouncing Souls show, this could have been because of the fact I was sitting on a chair in the very back of the venue with my crutches propped next to me. The band did seem to hit their stride during Maniacal Laughter, ripping through the 24-minute album and providing a good number of fans with the motivation to stage dive, only to be kicked out immediately by the bouncers.
Prior to the Bouncing Souls' appearance, the night had started with a set from Lenny Lashy. Unfortunately, I missed this because I was busy being soaked on the walk (crutch?) from my parking spot. If this four-night stand had been held outdoors, we all would have been in trouble. Bane served as the primary support, and the Worcester hardcore legends performed an intense 45-minute set that complemented the Bouncing Souls set nicely.
Night Two: June 23, 2011: The Bouncing Souls and Hopeless Romantic.
At the start of the Bouncing Souls' set each night, a Michael Buffer-ish recording was piped through the speakers, introducing the two records as if they were competitors in a heavyweight title fight. A call girl even elicited cheers from the crowd by parading around the stage with a giant version of the album cover. If night one had been the undercard, night two was the first round of "the moment everyone had been waiting for."
Boston ska-punk act Have Nots kicked things off with an energetic 30-minute set that inspired plenty of circle pits and fist pumps. Not bad for an opener. Like night one, the main support was provided by another Massachussets punk stalwart, the Unseen. Lead singer Mark Unseen had been pacing around the venue for what seemed like hours, and was raring to go as the band began its first performance in quite some time. Like Bane the night before, they played a solid 45-minute set that not only pleased those in the pit, but probably won over some new fans at the same time.
Next up (of course) were the Bouncing Souls. They had held a meet-and-greet with fans earlier in the night, and had seemed somewhat reserved. They might have been saving energy for the fury they knew they were about to unleash on an all-too-willing crowd.
With the opening notes of "Cracked" from 1997's The Bouncing Souls, those on the floor immediately showed more energy and enthusiasm than they had the night before, and the band seemed to respond in kind. "Kate Is Great" had bodies flying through the air (and of course, out the door at the hands of the bouncers). As the band powered through the album's 16 songs, the temperature inside the venue began to skyrocket, despite the fact it was a rainy 60 degrees outside. This is a testament to the type of chaos the band was inspiring.
While the band does include a few staples from the Bouncing Souls era on most of their set lists, it was the deeper cuts that both the crowd and band seemed to enjoy the most. In fact, the crowd's reaction to tracks such as "Toilet Song" and "East Side Mags" inspired huge sing-alongs that were even bigger than those that came with other favorites. One of the most entertaining moments of the entire series was closing number "Shark Attack", during which normally reserved lead singer Greg Attonito couldn't keep the smile off his face, especially during lines such as "the Bouncing Souls only go on tour so they can eat other people's food...those Jersey mooches."
After a short break, the band returned to play Hopeless Romantic, and with the opening notes of the title track, it felt as if the gates had just been opened at the Kentucky Derby and both the band and the fans were off to the races. Both groups refused to slow down, even as the temperature continued to rise, and it was obvious that the band was enjoying the moment as much as everyone else in attendance.
Like the first half of the set, the crowd roared their approval whenever the band would begin another rarely played track. "Bullying the Jukebox" was the first of these cuts, and Attonito commented that the band would love to keep playing the track forever. "Ole" followed shortly after, and was the song that resulted in the largest number of crowdsurfers being kicked out.
For the duet "Wish Me Well (You Can Go to Hell)", the band was joined by a female guest vocalist, who perfectly traded lines with Attonito, who once again couldn't keep a big smile off his face. "The Whole Thing" then provided a fitting ending to what had been a loud, sweaty, and downright perfect punk show. The band would really need to outdo themselves if they hoped to supply fans with anything as memorable as this show had been.