I was pretty excited for this one. Sure, like everyone else, I have seen the Souls a million times. At this point, it's a nostalgia trip for me seeing them. In the end, it comes down to the supporting bands, and usually the Souls tour with great acts. Hot Water Music, Lifetime -- there is always a reason to go see the Souls play.
This time, though, it was especially awesome. Grey Area was playing!
We walk into the Starlight, though, and immediately know this is a bit different than what we're used to. It's far too big for this show, really. However, the year is 2008, and kids would rather spend their money on fluff like Girl Talk than see the timeless Grey Area perform. The place was basically empty as Grey Area took to the stage.
Their loss. Ernie and the gang came out and ripped off a few from their sophomore effort, Fanbelt Algebra. Equally awesome as their first album but far underappreciated, it left plenty of room for my friends and I to dominate the dance floor. Once Grey Area started in with the older, more beloved material, the crowd really got stirring. They are an amazing sing-along band, and with Ernie's crystal clear voice, it's easy to remember just how great these guys are. The high point of the show came when they performed the hell out of "V#2," which Ernie introduced as the best song he's been associated with, which, if you know anything about his place in punk rock history, is a lofty statement.
Lucky for us, they came out and performed an encore. This was easily the best moment of the entire show. First, they did a fantastic version of "We're Only Gonna Die," the classic Bad Religion tune. It brought the house down. They finished it off with the first song off the self-titled, "Right Now!". Great performance.
Next up was the Souls.
What can I say about the Souls? Eight years ago, every song would have been a dance riot for my friends and I. Now, we pick and choose the numbers we want to get down to. Maybe we are getting older, or maybe the Souls catalog has been watered down. Either way, it just isn't quite the same.
They opened with "East Coast, Fuck You!". Who doesn't love that one? Now, however, the crowd was so heavy we could barely move. Where were these kids for Grey Area??? Shame, shame. Anyway, soon the Souls moved onto newer material from The Gold Record and Anchors Aweigh, both of which are not my favorite albums. They did "Neurotic" and "I Like Your Mom," and it was about this time that I was wondering if maybe I am a little old for the Souls. About mid-way through, though, they did something different, something completely new for this band, and considering I have seen them 75 times or so, that's pretty amazing.
They went acoustic!
Greg picked up the guitar and mid-way through "All of This and Nothing," the wonderful quick-hitting Maniacal Laughter song, and slowed it down for a five-minute jam session. That didn't go over so well, but they made up for it with a more acoustic-appropriate choice next, the wonderful "Gone." Love that song so much. Great moment, and it shot right into the always-wonderful "Johnny X." A few cuts from the self-titled, the title track from Anchors Aweigh, and just like that, they're off the stage.
For the encore, they went back to the acoustic guitar. A Misfits cover that really hit home -- I'm from Jersey -- and the beautiful "Night on Earth" ended the show.
Overall, it was a good show. I have to say, I hate Starlight, and this may be the last time I ever go. The sound is awful. It's hard for anyone to sound good there. And, even for a punk show, it was really, REALLY loud. My ears still hurt.
As for the music, Grey Area was the highlight. The Bouncing Souls -- I love 'em, but I have seen everything from them. I did like the somewhat gimmicky acoustic session, but it made sense since they have some music that really translates to it well.