Wow, its been a few years since the Souls came to Richmond. Since the glory days of Twisters. Wow. I would have never assumed that after the recent success and popularity they have been experiencing that they would make the trek back to our dirty little city. Sure enough, as I am commonly wrong in life, Richmond was named as one of the few cities on a short East Coast tour.
As I made my way into Alley Katz, The Arsons were already on stage. I'm not too familiar with their material, and can't recall much about their set, other than the fact that they covered Dag Nasty's "Wig Out at Denko's" as their second to last song. Not whiny indie rock, but not hardcore either, kinda a weird mix. Not bad.
Now, I am somewhat of a casual Agnostic Front fan. I think I own 2 or so of their albums, but have always held the highest respect for Roger Miret. I have had the Disasters album for a few months now and was really looking forward to seeing the material live. The first thing I noticed was how short Roger is. Damn....really short. But he really puts it all out during performances. The monitors on the guitars were really fucking up the vocals, but overall it was a great set. Pretty much everything I wanted to hear from the album with a surprise cover of the Clash's "Career Opportunities", which sounded incredible. Roger seemed to really get into the set, encouraging everyone to come forward and sing along. Rock.
I got a chance to speak with Roger a little after the set and was pleasantly surprised to hear that their will be another studio album from the Disasters. Killer.
I'm not too big on the Casualties, and don't believe I could name a single Casualties song off the top of my head, but I do have a respect for their music, and their scene. I've seen the Casualties a few times, and they have some of the most loyal, diehard fans I have ever. There are always a few dicks that have the "punker-than-thou" mentality, but overall its always a fun sight to see the varying mohawks and outfits sported by the streetpunks. Good set, lots of energy....the kids seemed to love it.
Hmmm....the Bouncing Souls. I can't say enough good, positive things about these guys. Some of the truest people I think I have ever met. When I think of anyone who really enjoys what they do in life and that has a strong conviction, its the Souls. Thinking about a Souls show just seems to put a smile on my face. As they began to take the stage (a real fucking stage, no barriers, 'no security' [ bad pun]), "Sunny Side of Street" was blaring and the place about erupted before a single chord was strummed....
As the first baselines of "Argyle" began, the chills immediately transcended into unbridled energy. I love this song with a passion. The joint seemed to bouncing in unison. Mallpunks, street punks; hell, even a few emo kids were actually smiling and having fun. I'd like to refrain from sounding corny, but it was a really cool thing to see. But that's what the Souls do to you, their passion and love for the music is spread throughout a vast audience, creating a sea of human smiles.
The set was comprised of a good mixture of songs from all 5 full-lengths, and "Bryan's Lament" from the recent split with Anti-Flag. Oddly enough, Bryan kept making references to Twisters, which got a laugh from a lot of us.
Two new songs were also introduced, the first titled "Born Free" (me thinks) which has a older introduction with a scorching riff, reminiscent of the "Good, Bad...." days, yet breaks down with a bridge sounding quite similar to the "How I Spent My...." material. Should be a brilliant album.
The night ended appropriately. No bullshit-fakeass encore; the band said "Private Radio" would be the last song, people cheered, so the band proceeded to play 2 more. The night closed with "Manthem" and it seemed like the entire crowd was on stage. But not in a hokey way that has become all to familiar. Friends arm in arm, singing along, and the Souls seeming to be having a genuinely good time with not "fans", but friends.
For those of you who may be questioning what the Souls have left, go see them and I doubt you will be able to ask that again with a straight face. Everything from the amazing progression "the Pete" has made on guitar to become, in my eyes, one of the fastest and entertaining guitarists around, to the incredible improvisations on fills Michael makes on drums.
To all of you bands out there looking to progress musically, take heed of the Bouncing Souls, this is how its done.