Some things in life are a certainty. Free beer will always taste better, the Dallas Cowboys will always be the most hated team in the NFL, no state south of Maryland can make a good cheesesteak, and the Bouncing Souls always put on a good show. With an impressive lineup of the Souls, Street Dogs, Whole Wheat Bread and World/Inferno Friendship Society, the opening night of The Gold Tour was sure to live up to the band's long history of unforgettable performances.
Starting the night off were NYC's cabaret/circus-punk experience, World/Inferno Friendship Society. I'm a recent newcomer to the group's apparent cult-like following, but was eager to see what everyone was talking about. I was impressed with a set heavy on their recent Chunksaah release Red-Eyed Soul, and found the chemistry of such an eclectic and member-heavy group to be amazing. Frontman Jack Terricloth found a specific interest in a young man up front that seemed to only know how to use one finger the entire set. Either he was completely uninterested and found this as his only way on communicating his opinion, or considered this the "punx" show of respect. Either way, Jack had a good laugh with him, inviting him to dance on several occaisions. Aside from this kid's antics, the rest of the crowd was very motivated by the group's interactive performance. Without a doubt, I can honestly say that with more exposure and a broader touring schedule, "the Inferno" could be the next big thing in independent music.
I missed most of Whole Wheat Bread due to an interview, but caught a little of their set and heard the majority of it backstage. The main difference I caught, based on only seeing them once prior, was how incredibly tight they have gotten. And based off the opinions of a few friends in attendance, they crowd response was very positive, especially from material off their upcoming EP, Punk Life.
Next were the Street Dogs, whom I have been anxiously been waiting to see for some time now. I caught a very brief portion of their set with Social Distortion, but not enough to base any serious opinion on. But this night, they PWND this show. Frontman Mike McColgan reminded me of 12 years ago, seeing him front his former band, Dropkick Murphys, with the same energy and emotion. Bassist Johnny Rioux only further cemented his imposing impact live that has been made apparent on the band's last effort. The entire set was a non-stop marathon, with Mike running stage-left to stage-right, forcing the words into the crowd with urgency and enthusiasm. Material from all three albums was well represented, with huge audience responses to "You Alone," "Savin Hill," "In Defense of Dorcester," and "Fighter," plus newer tracks like "Not without a Purpose," "Fatty" and "Toby's Got a Drinking Problem." Street Dogs have unfortunately been hidden under the "former DKM singer" rock, but on this night, they made it perfectly clear that they are a serious band that will make their own mark, by clearly providing the performance of the night.
It's no shocker, I love the Bouncing Souls. Some bands just carry on, and maybe you become oblivious to the criticism. The Gold Record has given me everything I could ever ask for in a Souls album, and their peformance only added further compliment. Obviously, the set was heavy with new material, including the opener "The Gold Song," their Avoid One Thing cover of "Lean on Sheena," "So Jersey" and "Letter to Iraq." Of course, their classics "Kid," "True Believers" (with impromptu backing vocals from Mike McColgan), "K8 Is Great," "Argyle" and many more were well represented. My only question was the conversion of possibly my favorite Souls song ever, "Say Anything," transformed into a solo/acoustic peformance from Greg. Not to say it wasn't entertaining, but that song is so full of life and energy, it deserves the full treatment I've come to expect.
The most notable aspect of the set was the audience sing-along. In between filiming and photography, I'd find myself standing side-stage, singing to all my favorites, only to look around and see members of the Street Dogs, Whole Wheat Bread and World/Inferno Friendship Society mouthing the same words. Call it cheesy, but I think it reflects a considerable amount of respect in how much this band as influenced so many.
If you were to only see one show this fall/winter, I can without a doubt say that The Gold Tour is not to be missed. A punk plethora of fun for anyone, regardless of age or tastes.