Bouncing Souls/The Bronx - live in Chicago (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Bouncing Souls / The Bronx

live in Chicago (2019)

live show

Review by Liverpoolneil

I love summer in Chicago sometimes! A killer, totally stacked lineup at one of the best smaller venues in the city. And the Cubs weren’t at Wrigley that night so parking was ok and the area wasn’t full of dickheads!

Opening the show were the Bar Stool Preachers from the UK. They were an absolute revelation! They exploded onto the stage like a dynamo, and made it their own from the opening chord. Look, it’s very easy to get jaded in the punk scene. I’ve been going to gigs for over 40 years, and you get used to some bands just going through the motions, churning out the hits and the old standards. That’s not bad per se, but it was so cool to see a young band like this; bristling with exuberance and a true belief in what they are doing. It was really exhilarating. You could tell that all 6 members are totally dialed in, believing that they are the greatest band on the planet, and on this night they just might have been. They really were that good, and it made me remember why I fell in love with punk rock in the first place. I had a big smile on my face the whole time, and if you know me at all, you know that’s tough to do! If you have never heard them, they occupy the same ska/punk space as The Interrupters, but the BSPs are a lot more genuine and a lot less manufactured: the real deal so to speak. For instance when they sing about what’s going on in the inner city you truly believe they are talking about their own experiences, not what somebody else wrote for them. They were only given 30 minutes, but blazed through a set of favorites from their 2 albums, ending with their eponymous sing-along favorite “Barstool Preacher”. They are touring a ton, so if they are coming anywhere near you go see them.

Second on the bill were SF’s favorite street punk band, Swingin’ Utters. They were sadly only given around 30 minutes, but they still managed to storm through a set of about 10 songs spanning their entire career. The lineup these days includes longtime members Johnny Bonnel on vocals and Darius Koski on guitar, along with newer members Jack Dalrymple (guitar, ex-One Man Army), Luke Ray (drums ex-Cobra Skulls) and Tony Texeira (bass, ex-Cobra Skulls). I expected a set list heavy on songs from the excellent 2018 album Peace and Love, but they actually only played 2 songs from it: “Human Potential” and my favorite track on the album, “Undertaker Undertake”. The rest of the set was a sprinkling of songs from almost all their other albums, (but nothing from Streets of San Francisco!). It was a typically intense, set, and watching Johnny repeatedly punch himself in the face as he sings is always an eye opener. It’s nice to see a musician that has been doing this for as long as he has perform with such intensity. They sound coming out of the PA was blown out though which was a shame. I’ve always found it funny when the opening band has the best sound of any band on the rest of the card, and that was indeed true this night.

Third on the bill were LA’s own hardcore superstores The Bronx. Now I must admit that I didn’t come in knowing much about the band, but I came away impressed. They’ve been playing their own brand of hardcore since 2002, and on this night they were super tight and very powerful. Much like Swingin’ Utters they played a set of 10 or 11 songs that spanned their entire discography, from “Heart Attack American”, the first song from their 2003 debut, right through to three songs off their latest album from 2017. Apparently all of their albums are simply called “The Bronx”, so it’s difficult for me to get more detailed than that. Anyway, like I say, I wasn’t familiar with them, but I came away impressed with their clean sound and intense, in your face style. The metal sounding stuff they played left me cold, but the songs are short so it wasn’t too much of a torment…

Headlining were The Bouncing Souls. You are all familiar with them no doubt, so I won’t go into their history or anything like that. It was their 30th year anniversary tour, so consequently they played basically a greatest hits set that pulled heavily from their mid period classic albums How I spent my Summer Vacation (2001, 7 songs) Maniacal Laughter (1995, 5 songs) and The Bouncing Souls (1997, 4 songs). They played 21 songs total, with 4 encores. The set was bookended with two songs from my favorite album: 1999s Hopeless Romantic, opening with “Hopeless Romantic” and ending with “Night on Earth”. It was everything you would expect really. The crowd came to hear the hits and that’s exactly what they got, singing along with every line. They even did “Here We Go”, but that one (along with “Olé”) really gets on my last nerve. Doing a song based on an english football chant seems horribly contrived and silly to me, but I’m english so maybe I’m just being a snob or something. The set was very professional: they’ve been doing this a long time and it shows. They didn’t have the urgency or intensity of the opening band, but I guess after 30 years that is to be expected.

Overall it was a really fun night, and I even bought merch from a young band I’d never seen previously, something that doesn’t happen to me much anymore, jaded old bastard that I am!