Two weeks after their massive outdoor festival, Evenko under the banner of 77 Montreal continues to pump out smaller-scale shows for all the eager punks of Montreal. And with The Bouncing Souls touring for their 30th anniversary, what better place for them to play than Foufounes Electriques, the same venue they played for their 20th anniversary.
Opening the festivities were The Bar Stool Preachers of Brighton, UK. The six-piece was looking rather cramped on the stage, especially keyboardist Alex D. Hay, who was squeezed among the amps stacked in front of other amps. For a band I knew virtually nothing about, they instantly won me over with their blend of punk, ska, folk, and protest songs. Lead singer TJ McFaull was very lively, dancing, skanking, and encouraging the audience to participate. On their closing song, McFaull introduced a dance move popular in East England called ‘knees up,’ which seemed less like a dance and more like an endurance drill from a phys-ed class.
Next were legends in their own right, Swingin’ Utters, who have technically been around longer than thirty years (unless you deduct their hiatus in the early 2000s). Their set was a mix of newer releases, like “Undertaker, Undertake” off their 2018 album Peace and Love, and older hits like “Storybook Disease” off their 1995 release the Streets of San Francisco. Frontman Johnny Bonnel flailed his limbs about as he sang, swinging the microphone like a pickaxe and slapping his forearm like a junkie looking for a vein. Bassist Miles Peck burned incense mid-way through their performance, but it was hard to feel zen with the band playing with such fury.
I remember the first time I listened to The Bronx back in high school, I was blown away by the intensity encapsulated within their recordings. But seeing them live is a completely different experience, if not more intense. By the second song, the Los Angeles quintet was dripping with sweat. Singer Matt Caughthran led a countdown into the opening riff of “Heart Attack American,” with the whole crowd coming in on the “YEAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!” No longer satisfied with staying onstage, Caughthran jumped down unto the floor to join the people, prompting the stage techs to freak out, not wanting the microphone cable to be tangled in the stampede of feet. Their set was surprisingly short, maybe to set aside more time for the main event.
The excitement was palpable on the showroom floor. Punks of all ages and sizes clapped and chanted olé-olé-olé’s as they awaited the New Jersey pop-punk pioneers. Everyone was clambering to get an eyeshot of the stage; the concept of personal space completely went out the window. But that didn’t matter as The Bouncing Souls stepped on and serenaded the audience with their vast discography of sentimental songs. Greg Attonito is a real charmer, a hopeless romantic if you will. He sang with the biggest grin, and the fans responded by singing along to every word. It was a rather touching moment hearing the entire room sing the heartbreakingly beautiful “Lean On Sheena” (originally by Avoid One Thing). But the moment didn’t last long when the Souls launched into the minute-long fun punk tune “East Coast Fuck You!” When Attonito stopped the show to ask what song they should play next, the audience erupted in a cacophony of requests, with the band finally landing on their 1995 classic “Lamar Vannoy.” And you best believe there was an encore, which included the title track off their brand new EP Crucial Moments, and my and everyone else’s favourite “True Believers.”
I look forward to seeing them again for their 40th anniversary, and so on…
Written by Chris Aitkens
Photography by Nicolas Racine
*edited by Danielle Kenedy