June has been an awesome month for seeing some of my all time favourite bands - Descendents, Iron Chic, [Spunge] and now The Bouncing Souls! New Jersey's finest were back in London less than a year after a fantastic show at The Camden Underworld last August. It's cool when a big American band comes to the UK and brings along an up and coming American band with them. However, I think it's even cooler when the big American band decides to take a couple of the UK's great underground bands on tour with them. This was the case on the Souls tour as Great Cynics and Hot Mass (a replacement for Grand Collapse) would be along for the party. The London show of the tour would be taking place at The Dome in Tufnell Park, a venue neither Emma or myself are big fans of but with this line-up it was sure to be a great night!
First up on The Dome's stage, which felt massive, were Swansea's Hot Mass. When they took to the stage I was slightly confused as there was only three of them and last time I saw them supporting The Menzingers I was pretty sure that there were four members of the band. I double checked this with Emma and she confirmed this. Hot Mass addressed this during their set by saying that the other guitarists couldn't make the tour. Thankfully the lack of a member didn't make too much difference (though I'm sure he's a vital cog for the band when he is there) as Hot Mass played a storming set that comprised of songs from last year's excellent Nervous Tensions album. Their no thrills, grungey punk rock style translates brilliantly to the live setting. It's always great to see a band that puts all that they have into a performance and Hot Mass certainly did that. I've seen them twice now, both at fairly big venues for a small band. I'd love to see them playing their own show in a small, sweaty pub. I imagine that would be great fun.
Up next were Deptford High Street's Great Cynics. I've seen the band many times over the years now but this was by far the biggest stage I've seen them on. I was very intrigued to see how they would take to it. Of course, they took to it with an ease and coolness that you would expect from a band that has been around for a long time now. To be honest it's a wonder that I hadn't seen them play a stage this size before. If there was some justice in the world, they'd be playing more shows to crowds as big as the one that had gathered at the Dome. One thing I always enjoy about watching Great Cynics play live is the sheer amount of joy that the band display on stage. It's clear that there is no place that Giles, Bob or Oli would rather be. Three best mates playing music that they love together. And what great music it always is. As I mentioned before I'm not a huge fan of The Dome as a venue, mostly because I've always thought the sound and the acoustics are poor, it sounds strange and kinda dumb but it sometimes feels too loud. The bass and drums can often drown out the guitar. Emma and I both said that this was the loudest we had ever heard Great Cynics sound. I think that if I wasn't already familiar with the band's music I might have struggled to get into them, but that obviously wasn't the case and I loved every song that was played. Like at their album launch show back in April, the set was finished with a cover of Cornershop's Brimful Of Asher which went down magnificently with the crowd.
After two great sets from two great UK bands it was time for one of the greatest punk bands ever. The Bouncing Souls have been going strong since 1989 and in that time have become one of the most beloved bands in the world. Looking around The Dome there were plenty of old school punk rockers and a good amount of people who weren't even alive when the Souls formed. When the band took to the stage it didn't matter if you were young or old, you were a Bouncing Souls fan and you were about to have the best hour and a bit of your week. Starting out, of course, with Sing Along Forever - a perfect song to start off a set with - the Dome began to enthusiastic sing along with the band. The line "Gimme A Reason To Care, I'll Sing Along Forever" brings the whole crowd together as one. I get a sense that any problems the good folk in the Dome have in their everyday lives were forgotten and it was time to smile and have the best time. Greg, Pete, Bryan and George powered through song after song, every single one getting massive reactions. Over the past twenty eight years, they have written so many songs that are considered classics - so many that it's easy to forget just how many they have! The band have this incredible ability to write really simple songs that can change your entire outlook on life. For every song that inspires there are also plenty of songs are a bit silly but the most amount of fun. Songs such as I Like Your Mom and East Coast Fuck You get as big a reaction as Lean On Sheena and Kids And Heroes. Of course the biggest reactions are from the three big hitters from How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Manthem, Gone and True Believers. There's always such a strong positive vibe around The Bouncing Souls whenever they play live. It carries from the stage into the crowd and just doesn't stop. When the band stop the good times roll out of The Dome and spread round the rest of London. Every single person left The Dome feeling on top of the world, feeling like a True Believer.
This review was written by Colin Clark.