Ever since they started the tradition, I’ve attended The Bouncing Souls Home For The Holidays, their annual Christmas shows in Asbury Park NJ for almost a decade now. I grew up in NJ my entire life, and seeing the band in Asbury was always pretty special to me since it was the first place I ever saw them back when they played Skate and Surf YEARS ago. With last years announcement that it would be their final show, I was worried I would be Soul-less this holiday season. Luckily, the band decided to come to Philly for a show, and they were bringing Off With Their Heads and Masked Intruder with them.
I made sure to get to the sold out Union Transfer in time to catch Off With Their heads.
Off With Their Heads:
The place was already starting to pack out a bit by the time Minneapolis punks Off With Their Heads took the stage. I’ve been a huge fan of these guys ever since I first heard From The Bottom and saw them play Philly’s Barbary back in 09. Since then, I’ve seen them a bunch and they always have put on a fantastic show, although it seems like they don’t make it out to the east coast anywhere near as often anymore, so needless to say I was stoked to be seeing them again.
Playing punk rock in the veins of Dillinger Four and The Lawrence Arms, Off With Theirs Heads have perfected the dichotomy of incredibly catchy, upbeat aggressive music with some of the most depressing and real lyrics around about the struggles of depression, life, and just trying to make it through the day.
In the past, the few times I’ve seen OWTH on a larger, barricaded stage they’ve always seemed more comfortable playing a small intimate room, but this time around they completely owned it and didn’t seem out of place at all. Holding up the setlist, they showed us that they only wrote down about 4 songs and were just going to wing the rest. Plenty in the crowd were shouting along to all the words to an energetic set that spanned all of their albums (including, very much to my excitement a bunch off their debut EP Hospitals). On the final song, the band brought up a member of PEARS to fill in on guitar while singer/guitarist Ryan focused on stage diving into the crowd and singing in the middle of the audience that swarmed him.
An incredibly fun and fantastic set, Off With Their Heads bring the same amount of energy whether it is opening up a show in a larger venue or playing a shitty warehouse up in North Philly.
Setlist (not in order, may be forgetting some):
Fuck This I’m Out
Don’t Make Me Go
Your Child Is Dead
Clear The Air
As I’ve stated previously, these NJ punks have been my favorite band since I was just a teen first getting into punk, and I’ve seen them countless times over the years. That said, this was the first show I was seeing them where I couldn’t really jump around due to concussion I got a few months back (which is the same reason I had to take a break during Masked Intruder) so I would actually be… WATCHING the band… and let me tell you, to not dance while they ripped through my favorite songs (especially The Freaks, The Nerds, And The Romantics), it was truly a test of my self control.
As is tradition, the place broke out into chants of “OLE” and “Here we go!” before the band took the stage in support of their latest album Simplicity (which if you haven’t listened to yet, check it out… I think it’s their best since Anchors Aweigh). And while the band WAS technically on tour to support the album, the set was actually very heavy on the older albums, especially How I Spent My Summer Vacation.
The Souls played a lively and fun show with nearly everyone in the crowd singing along as they ripped through their anthems. Vocalist Greg was up to his usual stage antics, at times having the presence more like a crooner before quickly switching and jumping off the stage behind the barricade and singing along with fans. The band sounded as tight as ever, and put on a really solid show.
It’s hard for me to describe how much The Bouncing Souls music means to me in words. Their music has helped me get through so much shit in my life from when I was an early teen to now as someone in my early 30s. After all these years, The Bouncing Souls still put on one of the best live shows around, and here’s hoping to many more.
Setlist (not in order, from what I remember):
Kids And Heros
Kate Is Great
The Something Special
Ghosts On The Boardwalk (acoustic)
Ballad Of Johnny X
Joe Lies (When He Cries)
The Gold Song
Lean On Sheena
I Wanna Be Bored
Punks In Vegas
The Freaks, The Nerds, And The Romantics
East Coast Fuck You
Night On Earth