Fifteen years, several heart-warming and groundbreaking albums and God knows how many tours later, Bouncing Souls descend on Newport heading towards the climax to their hectic US/UK tour running up to the festive season. Starting out with the intention of playing loud, fast and intensively positive music, the band has continued over the years to payback the legions of fans they have picked up over the journey with their very own blend of volatile, street-smart and exuberant punk music. TJ's filled with people and a warm expectation for a crammed evening of entertainment that was sure to create an electric atmosphere inside the legendary club.
Little known New Mexican Disaster Squad opened the party with gut-churning hardcore jams that tear open the fad of nu-metal with their straight-up 80's style punk. Their set bulged with songs flavoured with snappy choruses and even snappier verses that rage with tense lyrical flair and passion. The lead vocalist and guitarist pulled the set through as he was severely struggling with illness, but relentlessly soldiered on for a memorable show. The bands sound was tight, heavy and pulsing with flurries of pain and triumphant musicianship that engaged the crowd to mosh almost from the first note. New Mexican Disaster Squad had plenty of fans in the crowd eager to scream lyrics down the mic and slam into one another on the floor to engaging songs like 'Fun Box' and 'Tax Return'. This band really opened the audience's eyes to the prospect of a great evening.
The stage crew quickly assembled the playing area ready for the second instalment of tonight's entertainment, Tsunami Bomb. The female-fronted brass-knuckle Californian pop-punk quintet arrived on stage and immediately found their microphones to be faulty and the fans to be restless. Heckles aimed at the oddly named female singer 'Agent M' were quickly distinguished by other members of the band and a select few from the crowd who were really behind the group. Once the set got rolling the band enjoyed playing their infectious tunes and pumped-up melodies but the pit seemed to retire to the bar in anticipation for the other two bands and a cold beverage. Tsunami Bomb continued to blast out blistering guitar riffs, bold drumming and quick fire lyrics that have projected them to greener pastures from when then started out back in 1999. P-Rock chart topping songs like 'Take The Reigns' was greeted with warm appraisal but the band didn't manage to hold the audience at the beginning of the set, but as the heat was turned up and the guitarist stole the show with his gifted presence, Tsunami Bomb left the stage knowing that they had won a hardcore crowd over with their enthusiastic and bouncy tunes.
The night was drawing closer to midnight and two bands were still to grace the TJ's stage. Constructing their set with exhilarating songs, hardcore melodies and endless energy, Strike Anywhere opened the crowd up to a new level of power. Although not the most ground breaking of hardcore punk acts, Strike Anywhere have their feet firmly cemented in projecting sharp political and articulate lyrics that add a dynamic edge to their furious live show. The crowd went wild for the band and their music. Somersaulting off speakers and endless moshing proved that hardcore is still a growing (if not still submerged) genre of punk that generates some of the most sparkling and vicious energy at a show. Playing an intense and varied selection of songs from 'Change Is A Sound' and more recent release 'Exit English', the fans embraced the melody and the show was really in motion.
Unsurprisingly, Bouncing Souls were greeted with the warmest and loudest reception as they sprung onto stage with the whole room fixed on their every movement. For over an hour the band continued to pulse with stunning track after equally stunning track to mesmerise the pit into a swirling mass of sweating bodies. Having performed over three decades and seen many bands rise and fall; Bouncing Souls have progressively churned out albums that surpass their previous efforts with heartfelt, honest and wholly positive pop-punk music. Evidently, Bouncing Souls have lost none of their will to please the crowd with hard-hitting anthems like 'True Believers', 'Kid', 'Born Free' and more recently 'Gone'. The lyrics to songs are cynical and often wry but layered with the bright and stylish sounds of each powerful tune, each song acts as a 'pick-me-up' and grounds that human quality that so many bands lack. The night epitomised tour comradeship as each band supported one another and continually popped on stage to supply the performing artists with JD and assorted spirits. Tsunami Bomb vocalist Agent M also appeared on stage to duet with Greg Attonitoi on the cheeky love song 'Wish Me Well (You Can Go To Hell)' which went down well with the bands faithful following.
Bouncing Souls will continue towards legendary status as they radiate exuberantly raucous punk songs that are as lively and gusty on stage as they are on must have CD's like 'How I Spent My Summer Vacation' and 'Hopeless Romantic'. If you haven't seen this band live, you're missing out.
Bouncing Souls -- 8
Strike Anywhere -- 7
Tsunami Bomb - 5
New Mexican Disaster Squad - 6