Everyone has their holiday traditions, and for me it’s going to Asbury Park after Christmas and seeing my favorite band The Bouncing Souls play with a bunch of solid friends they bring along. Ever since they started this tradition back in 2014, I’ve gone pretty much every year on one of the three or four nights (the two hour drive back and forth from Philly is a bit rough), but this year I decided to go two nights because the lineups were so stellar.
I got there right as NJ pogo punks Blanks 77 were setting up, and I noticed that lead singer Mike Blanx appeared to be missing, and replacing him were two fill-ins. I’d be a lot more upset if I didn’t just see them 2 weeks previously in Philadelphia, but I was curious about what happened. After asking around, unfortunately Mike’s dog died that day, and he wasn’t able to make the show. Sad and a bummer, but the band pressed on.
While it was a bit strange seeing Blanks 77 with two singers that weren’t Mike, they did a pretty good job of filling in, although no one can truly replace his snarl and snarky voice. That didn’t stop us from singing along with plenty of people pogoing throughout their set. While it was fun it was definitely a bit off, almost like seeing a Blanks 77 cover band, but given the circumstances they all did a pretty stellar job.
Up The System
We Are The Punks
I Wanna Be A Punk
I was surprised to see hardcore legends Bane playing the Home For The Holidays, especially sandwiched between Blanks 77 and The Bouncing Souls, but as a huge Bane fan I was stoked. I love their latest (and sadly final) album and with this being my third time seeing them this year, I’ve been a bit spoiled lately with Bane. I wasn’t sure how the crowd was going to react with their being a barricade (something I’ve never seen at one of their shows) or with the majority of people there being Souls fans, but the second the Massachusetts hardcore band took the stage and broke out into “Speechless” the place erupted into a huge pit.
Aaron was constantly right up against the barrier with a constant influx of people crowdsurfing and piling on, trying not letting a stupid thing like a barricade stop any fun while a bunch of us in the pit were two-stepping throughout the set. They played a solid chunk off most of their releases, with the new songs getting as big as a reaction as their older stuff (with closer “Can We Start Again” getting the biggest reaction).
Easily one of the best bands in hardcore, they threw a hell of a show, barricades be damned.
Setlist (Not in order, from what I remember)
Some Came Running
Final Backwards Glance
Count Me Out
Can We Start Again
Growing up an angsty teen in New Jersey, The Bouncing Souls were (and still are) my favorite band. I’ve been going to their Home For The Holidays since they started it, and every year they usually announce a theme. Past themes included having their friends write the setlist, playing a countdown of what fans voted their most popular songs, using a bingo machine, or playing the albums in full.
No theme was announced beforehand so I wasn’t sure what the Souls had up their sleeves, but the band took the stage to fan chants of Here We Go (which they opened with) and then Greg announced tonight it was going to be all songs prior to the year 2000. Fuck yes.
With songs coming off of The Good, The Bad And The Argyle, Manical Laughter, Self Titled, Hopeless Romantic, and some earlier songs from the Green Ball Crew EP, the crowd was in a frenzy. While there wasn’t really much room to dance the first night, that didn’t stop us from trying (to which what ultimately became just a big shove fest) while the Souls blasted through their classics.
Greg seemed more animated than usual running around the stage, jumping down to the barricade and into the crowd some with all smiles. There’s always something special about the Souls Home For The Holiday shows that is really tough to explain without actually being there. If you get a chance to go next year, definitely do it.
Setlist (not in order)
Here We Go
I Like Your Mom
Kicked In The Head
Kate Is Great
Joe Lies When He Cries
Holiday Cocktail Lounge
East Coast Fuck You
Some Kind Of Wonderful
Fight To Live
Lay Em Down Smack Em Yack Em
The Freaks The Nerds And The Romantics
Moon Over Asbury
Quick Check Girl
Wish Me Well (You Can Go To Hell)
Night On Earth