View all of Mehra’s Bouncing Souls photos here.
After seeing opening acts Broadway Calls and Bayside, I knew it would be a good night for punk.
Broadway Calls was an unexpected surprise. I had heard about Bayside before, and knew that they would unleash their brand of punk rock upon the audience, but, if anything, Broadway Calls warmed the audience up for the rest of the bands to follow with their sound, a mix between NoFX and a touch of Jimmy Eat World. Of course Bayside tore the house up with their high-energy power chords and crushing drums. The circle that started to form in the crowd for Broadway Calls etched itself even deeper for Bayside, but only in preparation for what came next.
Twenty years for any band to remain playing signifies nothing but a success story in the world of music, and on top of that, a punk band. Half that time would impress even the more jaded professionals who believe in quick turnarounds for musical acts.
Bouncing Souls stepped onstage shortly after Bayside. Mistakenly I had stepped out of a prime viewing spot, only to return to a packed floor and house. The people in front started chanting “Here We Go,” over and over again, and it gained momentum until the curtains opened up and the chanting broke out into applause. The band talked about performing on the night before Halloween, how they called it “mischief night” back in the day, and asked us if we were ready for some mischief. The crowd went nuts and they started into “True Believers,” apropos for how everyone felt about the band at that moment.
The circle in front of the stage grew larger than it had been, and people unwittingly became sucked into its grasp, like a large human vortex. People surfed above heads and arms on their backs, making their way to the stage. Once a person stood fully upright and eye level with singer Greg Anttonito, who smiled and raised his eyebrows in response. Anttonito carried the poise and self-assurance (and dress) of a car salesman just off work. He maintained a level of cool throughout the entire show without it ever becoming boring or draining. At one point he dodged several hats that flew from the fans onstage. He picked one up, a blue LA Dodgers hat, put it on, and performed the rest of the song in it before throwing it back out. His stage presence drew enough attention, even if he didn’t pull any antics. The entire band devoted themselves strictly to the music.
About midway through a roadie delivered an acoustic guitar to Anttonito, who dedicated the subsequent song to the Misfits, a “band heavily influenced by Halloween.” The song was “Hybrid Moments” off the Misfits’ album Static Age.
They played straight through, each song not lasting more than two minutes, but the judging from the show as a whole nobody even noticed. They stopped once to take a recommendation and played “Punks in Vegas,” then soon after took a break for an encore. They ended with “The Freaks, the Nerds, and the Romantics,” wrapping up a brilliant pre-Halloween 20 year celebration of their music.