Broadway Calls' new album, Good Views, Bad News, has been one of my more pleasant discoveries of this year. All I had previously heard of them was their split with Teenage Bottlerocket a few years back. Personally, I liked their side better than TBR's. They are more than just another pop-punk band. They have a harder drive to their vocals and guitar playing that keeps them from being lumped in with every other band in that category. Based on their new album alone, I had a good feeling about seeing them live. Simply put, Broadway Calls are awesome live. I had no idea how well they took their recorded material to the stage. Songs like "Be All You Can't Be" and "Basement Royalty" really highlight the band's strength in their dual vocals. What was especially nice about seeing these guys was that their intensity seemed completely genuine. Only a small handful of people seemed to have heard them before, but by the time their set ended, I got the impression that they earned themselves plenty of new fans. [Pictures]
Before tonight, I had never really heard anything from Bayside save for one car ride. And I had previously avoided them based on who they had been previously touring with (Anberlin, New Found Glory, etc.). All I really knew was they were from New York and sounded like the Smoking Popes. Looking around the crowd that night, it was a pretty good idea for the Souls to bring them along. As if by magic, when Bayside was going on, all of these teenagers just seemed to come out of nowhere and take the floor. Given the crowd's reaction to them, you would have thought Bayside was headlining. They had great stage presence and commanded the crowd very well. However, if I want a band that sounds like the Smoking Popes, I'll take the Smoking Popes. Speaking of them, my favorite part of their set was their "Chicago tribute": "Megan." That definitely brought the crowd's energy to a halt as it appeared that many Bayside fans were not also Smoking Popes fans. Bayside was fun in the sense that they reminded me of being 15 and going crazy over a band like the kids did tonight. However, I doubt I'll be making any special effort to catch them again. [Pictures]
It had been way too long since the last time I saw the Bouncing Souls. I missed them at Riot Fest last year and I missed my opportunity to catch them with Strike Anywhere and the Casting Out in Baltimore. With this being their 20th year anniversary tour, I knew that this was going to be something special. The Souls are one of those bands who never fail to disappoint live. Even if you can say one of their performances wasn't as good as another time, that doesn't mean it was anywhere close to being bad. It pains me to say that their show tonight wasn't as good as I've seen them before, but damn was it still a good time.
I was happy to hear that the crowd still knew how to behave at a Souls show, alternating their calls between "Ole" and "Here We Go." The band took the stage shortly after and ran right into "Here We Go," "Fight to Live" and "Hopeless Romantic." I was a little surprised to see that they lacked a lot of their stage power that they normally commanded. I would later find out that was due to bad burritos and random vomiting spells. As the show went on, a little bit of something from just about their entire discography was hit. "Cracked" and "Lamar Vannoy" from the early '90s showed up and more contemporary songs like "Lean on Sheena" and "Sing Along Forever" were all equally well-received. It was great seeing a crowd that celebrated their entire catalogue. Even songs from their ongoing 20th Anniversary series, "Gasoline" and the yet to be released "Never Say Die / When You're Young" got the people going.
As their set progressed, the band seemed to be recovering nicely from their illness and got more and more into their performance. They even paused to take a request. We had to choose between "Born to Lose," "Quick Check Girl" and "Argyle." Given that all the songs are fantastic, it ended up being Pete's choice and he chose "Quick Check Girl." They closed their set with the traditional ending songs, "True Believers" and "Manthem." Bayside and some friends came out to play along. What I love about these songs is that they always get the crowd going nuts and tonight was no exception. Greg was down with the crowd as they fought each other to sing along, while 10 feet behind the pit was seeing the most life it had all night. Following the conclusion of "Manthem," they took a brief recess from the stage, leaving Michael's glowing snare drum and a crowd screaming for more. The band did not disappoint as they quickly returned to the stage to finish with "Anchors Aweigh," "Kids and Heroes" and "Gone."
The Bouncing Souls will continue to be one of my favorite live bands. Despite the fact that their age is beginning to show more now than before, they still have the enthusiasm and love for music that they always have. Greg's voice sounds amazing hitting the high notes, even though he protests to singing them. It's rare to see a band stay together, continuously putting out good music, and perform as well for as long as the Bouncing Souls have been. I will definitely continue to support them on through their 40th anniversary and beyond.