Bad Brains / Bouncing Souls / Jello Biafra - live in Asbury Park (Cover Artwork)

Bad Brains / Bouncing Souls / Jello Biafra

live in Asbury Park (2007)

live show

Call me old-fashioned, but I don't think rock can really be learned in schools. It seems to me if you go to one of these schools you'd be doomed to have a career as Kelly Clarkson's bassist. However, if they want to promote their school with a New Jersey outdoor festival hosting Jello Biafra, the Bouncing Souls, the Loved Ones and Bad Brains, well, all the more power to them.

Even though he went on an hour later than scheduled, the theatre next to the festival lot was buzzing in anticipation for some Jello Biafra spoken word. He came out doing his usual schtick (wearing goggles and speaking in narration of the USA becoming a police state) but soon became the laid-back Jello we all know and love. With the assistance of notes, Jello spoke fluidly and passionately, never fumbling up his words and at no time losing the crowd. He did two pieces from his newest record ("Die for Oil, Sucker" and "Ass Clowns in Toyland") plus some oldies and a newer one he said he never did before regarding growing up in Boulder, CO. Sadly though, through his 75 minutes he didn't SAY anything no one's ever heard before (he even said the line "When Clinton lied, no one died." Wow, who writes your material?). Actually, he was comically on fire the most when he WASN'T talking about politics, but then he went into a long diatribe on band names. What are some examples of bad band names in Jello's eyes? Gym Class Heroes, These Arms Are Snakes and Total Chaos just to name a few. As if Total Chaos' career hasn't been a joke enough.

The Bouncing Souls are a band that hit fans emotionally, so their live show is best appreciated singing along with your comrades in arms. If you're on the fence and you get a show where they're lacking energy, you most likely won't be converted. But today in the cool Jersey shore breeze, Greg and co. had their rock switches flicked on and came out with a fierce rendition of "The Gold Song." Even though Bruce Springsteen was not in sight, the Souls were the kings of Jersey for an hour playing fan favorites "Hopeless Romantic," "Say Anything" (not acoustic, yay!) and of course "True Believers." They brought out the oldie "Joe Lies (When He Cries)" for the NJ residents, but I wonder if they consciously picked that over say, "Quick Chek Girl" or "So Jersey." Even though I've come to the sad realization that "For All the Unheard" has replaced "Night on Earth" as their perennial show closer, the Souls continue to show remarkable positive energy for a band that's creeping on 40.

Set list:

  1. The Gold Song
  2. Private Radio
  3. Sing Along Forever
  4. Hopeless Romantic
  5. Joe Lies (When He Cries)
  6. East Coast! Fuck You!
  7. Kid
  8. Lean on Sheena
  9. The Something Special
  10. Kate Is Great
  11. True Believers
  12. Moon Over Asbury
  13. Ballad of Johnny X
  14. Anchors Aweigh
  15. Gone
  16. Say Anything [not acoustic]
  17. Kids and Heroes
  18. For All the Unheard
The Loved Ones played in a side venue at the Asbury Lanes while Bad Brains were setting up. If you've never been to this venue, or actually own a venue, listen up: What's the only way you can improve the already perfect three-chord attack of punk rock? Why, by being able to bowl while bands are playing. And no, the bowling ball / pin clanking noise is not audible over the music. I've never seen the Loved Ones before but they crackled with life and even admitted that they played the same set list just a few weeks ago at that very venue. The crowd didn't seem to mind and blasted through the likes of "100K" and two new ones for the kids.

The sun was setting and jocks were slowly but surely getting more shirtless by the minute. HR, looking dazed and confused, wandered onto the stage a little prematurely, and as Dr. Know, Daryl and Earl sauntered on they jumped into "I Against I" with little warning, playing it a hair slower than the album version. They launched into a handful of songs from their self-titled album, then a reggae jam. Rinse, repeat. HR is now a far cry from how he acted in the early `80s. No more jumping into the crowd, violently shaking and rarely singing into the mic, he is now the epitome of calm, flashing a large shit-eating grin and peace signs. He even sat on the stage once or twice, watching the chaos ensue in the crowd. I guess being 25 years older and turning into a homophobe will do that to you. "Right Brigade," "Soulcraft," and the seemingly four-minute breakdown that is "Re-Ignition" got the crowd into the most fuss, but the pit was out of control Slayer-type action for every song but the reggae ones, with skinnier guys like me getting Benoit'd all over the place (come on 'Orgers, we can make that the new "owned"!).

Bad Brains were just sloppy enough to where it seemed like they could implode musically, and that's really all you can ask from a hardcore band. Sure, HR missed some vocal cues and Daryl's E string on his bass sounded so god-awful, loud and distorted it could have passed for Darth Vader vomiting, but that's what you expect. Despite a minor uproar occurring when Bad Brains weren't allowed to perform an encore, their set was largely a success, in thanks a lot to Dr. Know's flawless guitar work. Let's all hope the band continues touring and hell, why not tour with the Bouncing Souls, eh?

Set list (I forgot a few, so shoot me):
  • I Against I
  • Don't Need It
  • The Regulator
  • I
  • Fearless Vampire Killers
  • I Luv I Jah
  • Attitude
  • Sailin' On
  • Banned in D.C.
  • Right Brigade
  • Give Thanks and Praises
  • Let Me Help
  • Soulcraft
  • I and I Survive
  • At the Movies
  • Re-Ignition
  • Pay to Cum