Punk stalwarts give diehard fans their all

Bouncing Souls

San Francisco Bath House, Wellington, February 4

Reviewed by Simon Sweetman 

The curse of the late-starting Monday night gig, particularly on a night when the weather broke: there were only the diehards in attendance.

New Jersey punk band Bouncing Souls deserved a larger audience, but the quartet stepped up and fired out a set of songs from across their quarter-century history, playing as if they were headlining a packed stadium gig.

Lead singer Greg Attonito might even be the closest thing to a crooner that punk rock has offered; his almost incongruous peppy, preppy, march-along dance antics are all part of the finger- snapping fun.

Crucially, Bouncing Souls have mastered the light-hearted approach without the cartoon element, the boorish clowning and belligerent stroppiness that so many modern American punk acts have on speed-dial.

This was about music, every step of the way. The songs, driven home hard by drummer Michael McDermott, burst into life and showed depth, moving away the generic upbeat approach of post- 1980s bratty punk to roll and tumble, to show light and shade. McDermott's grasp of dynamics was often astounding.

Bouncing Souls kept the committed fans happy with singalong moments and Attonito was not remotely fazed when he was joined by keen audience members after a chance to stage- dive or to wrap an arm around him and do their very-bad-best to share the microphone.

The joy in performance was palpable, the energy never dipped and though, as a genre, this kind of punk music is far from my favourite type of music, I couldn't fault what I saw and heard.

What I saw was a great band nailing many of their best songs, pleasing their fans, and giving a great performance despite a lack of numbers. And what I heard was a band of seasoned pros.

The Dominion Post