This show was held at the New Brookland Tavern in Columbia, SC. I'd never been there before, but I drove three hours with a hangover for this show and all because it is well fucking worth it. If you are a Bouncing Souls fan, you know what I mean. If you've never seen the band live, you have to understand that this New Jersey quartet puts on one of the most heart-piercing performances you might never expect from punk bands today. Granted, Greg doesn't move much when he sings, which most people wouldn't expect from such a high energy band, there's still a genuine essence that even his slightly immobile characteristic adds to the beauty of their performance.
The first band of the night was The Loved Ones, who were pretty entertaining and energetic. They had a grungy punk rock sound that stuck to a slight redundance after the first couple of songs, but were nonetheless talented and showed potential.
They played for about twenty minutes and cleared the stage for Let It Burn, a New Jersey band that I had actully seen last year opening for the Bouncing Souls. I remember thinking they were "ok" last year and kept the same opinion after watching this Chunksaah band another time around. They extruded a laid back style of garage-punk (at best, if you want a label) and were very crowd-conscientious. The only problem I had with their set was the extreme, shrilling volume of the lead guitar and the lack of volume on the vocals. Other than that, Let It Burn put on a good half hour and left the crowd ambitious after closing with their speedy punk tune "Let It Burn."
Against Me! began setting up and I could hear the crowd's sheer anticipation. I knew these Florida dudes had a big cult following, but had no clue that it was as huge as portrayed that night. I even have to say that in comparing the two, Against Me! and the Bouncing Souls may have been neck and neck in the attendance of fans at this Columbia tavern. Their popularity is rightfully deserved though, as they make a prime example of talent with their very unique style of rock and roll. They aren't really my cup o' tea, but I wasn't bored with their set. As soon as the first chords were struck, mouths started shouting, bodies started flying, and fists were being raised everywhere. It was a non-stop party for Against Me! fans for the next 45 minutes or so, right up until their extremely prolonged outro to the last song of their set. The only track that I knew for sure from their setlist was "Cliche Guevera."
After they finished and their equipment was cleared, it was a 30 minute wait, but finally McDermont took his seat behind the skins, followed by Papillon, Greg, and the Pete. The last time I saw these guys was from behind a small metal barricade, so it was so nice to actually see them face to face on this tiny, unguarded stage. My pulse was racing from the time that they said "this song is about the radio..." and played "Sing Along" as the opener, right up until they closed with my absolutely favorite song "Night On Earth." I shouted for that song half the night until at one point Bryan finally caught my words, nodded and said "we probably will." Indeed, the band added this and "Freaks, Nerds, and Romantics" to their much-expected encore performance. Other highlights were the band's usual, very positive speak and banter such as is expected before songs like "Born Free" and "Gone" as well as their prideful introduction to E.C.F.U. during which Bryan shouted "If anyone ever asks you where you're from, look at them and say 'I'm from the East Coast, FUCK YOU!' " All the wit and attitude that has come to be expected from this 15 year old juggernaut of a punk band was left un-reserved during this performance, as well as the grace and power with which they played their songs. It was the greatest Saturday night I have had in a long time and was well worth the trip there and back home. Here's their setlist: Sing Along, Say Anything, Cracked, That Song, Kids & Heroes, Kid, The Something Special, Argyle, Punks In Vegas, '87, Born Free, East Coast Fuck You, Highway Kings, Lamar Vannoy, Manthem, Anchors Aweigh, Kate Is Great, Hopeless Romantic, Gone, True Believers, Freaks Nerds and Romantics, and Night On Earth.