Bouncing Souls / Gaslight Anthem - live in Asbury Park (Cover Artwork)

Bouncing Souls / Gaslight Anthem

live in Asbury Park (2008)

live show

When it was announced that the Bouncing Souls' annual Home for the Holidays was being moved down the street to The Grande Arcade at the Asbury Park Convention Hall, I wasn't worried. However, I had no idea what The Grande Arcade was. Upon entering the building, it became quite evident The Grande Arcade was a nice way of saying the Convention Hall's hallway. While it wasn't a real venue, the sound quality didn't take the dive I expected it to, and it opened the floodgates for 100 tickets at the door for the formerly sold out night with co-homestate heroes the Gaslight Anthem.

The Gaslight Anthem waltzed on stage to a huge ovation and sprung into "Great Expectations." I had to idea what to expect from the crowd, but TGA got the full treatment: rush to the stage, arms in the air and kids dancing. Two tracks later, the sheer volume of "We Came to Dance," combined with crowd intensity, I could have mistaken myself for being at a basement show. TGA's tightness as a live band can't be overstated; they seem to have upped their game even since I saw them a few months ago; any nervousness for playing in front of their families in attendance was not evident. Particular highlights included interpolating Tom Waits' "Downtown Train" before the breakdown of "Angry Johnny and the Radio" and "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues," a song I feel is completely emotionless on record but never ceases to amaze me as one of their consistently premier live performances. Brian Fallon gave a cute monologue about how the Bouncing Souls is one of his favorite bands, and that as a teenager when he saw Bryan of the Souls wearing a leather jacket, he knew he needed to own one.

When they announced they had one song left, my knees were getting weak while thinking of what track could it be. "Drive"? "We're Getting a Divorce, You Keep the Diner"? "I Coulda Been a Contender"? To my chagrin it ended up being "The Backseat." "The Backseat" has grown on me but most of you would agree the punx should have been upped a little harder for their closing track.

Set list:

  1. Great Expectations
  2. The Patient Ferris Wheel
  3. We Came to Dance
  4. Old White Lincoln
  5. I'da Called You Woody, Joe
  6. Angry Johnny and the Radio
  7. The ‘59 Sound
  8. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
  9. Miles Davis & the Cool
  10. Meet Me by the River's Edge
  11. Say I Won't (Recognize)
  12. The Backseat
While waiting for the Bouncing Souls to come on, I began to think "Is it possible more of the crowd was there for the Gaslight Anthem? Has the torch been passed?" As the Souls came out in matching Christmas sweaters (aw!) and went into "Manthem," it became clear quite quickly that no matter how big Gaslight gets, the Bouncing Souls are officially "New Jersey's Punk Band." The band seemed liberated; usually they stick to the same core 20 tracks for their set lists, but this was the first time in a long time I didn't know what they would play next. Thankfully, they sacrificed oft-played numbers like "That Song" and "The Something Special" and treated us to the likes of "Born to Lose" and "Neurotic."

The Souls' energy usually depends on the size of the venue (if you can see them without a barricade, that would be ideal) and in front of 875, their intensity was a little above average for a Bouncing Souls gig. More active than at a fest date, but more sedated when compared to smaller affairs. Coincidence or not, this was possibly the tightest set I've seen them play in a few years, save for a few vocal or count-in fuck-ups one would expect at a punk gig. Maybe I'm a sucker for smoke and mirrors but one element that made this night special was the stage being wrapped in Christmas lights and the giant Christmas tree off to the side of venue. Compared to last year, there was more holiday flavoring here.

After a "True Believers" with Timmy Chunks and Frank Iero of My Chemical Romance, the boys gave us "Kate Is Great" and the nostalgic "Night on Earth" before the encore. During the break, a guy in an Ergs! shirt and I discussed how heartbroken we were, but before we knew it Bryan was on stage playing the bass line to "Joe Lies (When He Cries)." Followed by "Hopeless Romantic," both songs got predictably huge crowd responses. Even though I lamented TGA ending their set slower rather than faster, the Souls ended their set in possibly the best way possible: "Night Train." I haven't heard them play it live since 2004, and wasn't immediately aware of what was going to happen when Bryan put down his bass and Greg moved over from center stage. The crowd was noticeably ecstatic, and Bryan got thunderous applause when he kept upping the ante each verse with loud, impassioned vocals. They left the stage one by one, galloping into the sunset that is 2009, their 20th anniversary, with promised surprises and constant touring. According to their documentary, this is really their 22nd year, but who's counting?

Set list:
  1. Manthem
  2. Say Anything
  3. Quick Chek Girl
  4. Private Radio
  5. Kids & Heroes
  6. Gasoline
  7. East Coast, Fuck You!
  8. I Like Your Mom
  9. No Security
  10. The Ballad of Johnny X
  11. So Jersey
  12. Moon Over Asbury
  13. Hybrid Moments
  14. Gone
  15. Lean on Sheena
  16. Sing Along Forever
  17. Born to Lose
  18. Growin' Up
  19. Neurotic
  20. True Believers
  21. Kate Is Great
  22. Night on Earth
  23. Joe Lies (When He Cries)
  24. Hopeless Romantic
  25. Anchors Aweigh
  26. Night Train