Earlier this year I talked about the amazing punk rock shows I have taken in up to that point. “Actually this has been one of the best concert years for me as the bands I have wanted to see not only tore shit up, but were on tour with some fairly awesome bands.” That’s what I had said and we were only half way through the year. I also went to the Westword Music Showcase as well as seeing Rancid with Blink 182. Both incredible. But none of these would even compare to the Bouncing Souls recent visit to the Mile High City.

Every year in the Souls hometown they play their “Home for Holidays” show. Something many bands do, not a big deal. Last year, or the year before, I would be terrible at writing someone’s biography, the Bouncing Souls decided to try something different and wanted to play songs they haven’t played in some time. So over the four night holiday show they played all their albums start to finish in order. They apparently enjoyed themselves and the audience must have as well because the Bouncing Souls opted to do this same gimmick in 6 other cities across the nation, and Denver was chosen as one of those cities.

This seemed like a rare opportunity and I didn’t want to miss any of it. So I bought tickets to all four shows. I wanted to see every song, what? How do you see a song? I also thought this is probably one of only two bands I would spend four nights watching. The other being Rancid, though they have like a million more songs and that would be rough.

Night One – The Good, The Bad, and the Argyle; Maniacal Laughter

I knew that I had four nights ahead of me so I made the choice to skip some of the opening band. So I skipped the first one on this night but I wanted to see the second one, Youth Brigade.

Youth Brigade is a band I wish I listened to more, and I have every means to do so, but for some stupid reason I don’t. Youth Brigade has been around for a long ass time and are responsible for BYO records, Royal Crown Revue, and Punk Rock Bowling. I recommend the documentary, “Let Them Know: The Story of Youth Brigade and BYO Records.”  Despite their old balls they still bring the punk rock that would be expected from a band called Youth Brigade.

A coworker of mine loves Youth Brigade so she was at this show. She showed up well before the first band and staked a claim at the front of the stage. I suppose this is the part of the article where I mention the venue for these shows was the Marquis Theater which is tiny, but near the place I office out of, so I could park easily and free. But the stage is not very elevated, coming only knee high to the audience. So she’s chillin’ up front and I’m wondering why, but I go with it. I decided since this was their early stuff I would act like I used to act at shows.

I handled the moshing and utter lack of personal space just fine during Youth Brigade’s set. But it was about four songs into the Souls when my inner Murtaugh kicked in and I had to get the shit out of that mess. I elbowed and clawed my through a sweat collection of body parts and moved to the back of the club where my old ass belongs. Once I could breath and wasn’t being shoved around I could enjoy the show again.

These two records are the two by the Souls I know the least, and thus like the least, but I was still enjoying the show. It did also seem these were the songs the Bouncing Souls had played the least despite being their oldest, weird how that worked. They did not seem that comfortable as they played. Maybe it was the fact that they wrote these songs when they were 20 years younger. I can’t imagine I would be too thrilled about playing songs I wrote 20 years ago. Then again I would have been 8 and those songs probably would have been about Felicia Holly being a doo-doo head.

The highlights of this night were the amazing cover of Ray Charles’ “Born to Lose.” Really can’t go wrong with Ray Charles. The rendition of “Ballad of Johnny X.” One of my favorite songs by these guys. It was how they ended night one and one of the few they looked comfortable playing. But the best part of night one was the “I Want Candy” cover, not because it’s a good song or they did something cool with, but because there was rather large woman near me who went completely ape shit as soon as she realized the song was about candy.

After one night I wondered why I had decided all four nights was a good idea.

Night Two – Self Titled; Hopeless Romantic

Night two started off on the right foot as I met up with Dagger. Shortly after that some old friends from Fort Collins showed up. This is how the Bouncing Souls is meant to be seen, with good friends.

Once again I skipped the first band. The second act was just one guy with his guitar. Tim Barry and his acoustic guitar. Later research would tell me he was once the lead singer for punk outfit Avail. I’m not sure how to classify his sound, maybe folk rock, similar to protest rock, not that every song was some kind of protest. You know what, just click the link and listen for yourself. Anyway he was really good and I was happy I caught him as part of me made a note of when the Souls started the night before and was going to wait until then to show up.

The Souls seemed more at ease and I enjoyed them more too. I’m pretty sure that had to do with how much I like these records, these were the ones that got me into the Souls in the first place. I definitely sang along with every song from Hopeless Romantic. Which was difficult during “Wish Me Well (You Can Go To Hell)” as that song involves a chick singing with Greg and they pulled someone from the audience and A) She was terrible at singing B) she was more into dancing around on stage than singing C) she had a hard time singing into the mic and D) fuck her.

The highlights from night two were when they played “Ole” prefacing it with, “Everybody loves this song for some reason, but we hate to play it so we never do. But I guess we kind of have to tonight.” So we got a rarity which was one of the selling points to going to all the shows.  But the best part of night two was seeing one of my favorite bands with my best friend. As I’ve noticed lately the times I have with my friends are few and far between so when I do I cherish them and when we can add great punk into the mix then it’s the best.

Night Three – How I Spent My Summer Vacation; Anchors Aweigh

After the show on night two I went and had too many beers with my old Fort Collins friends, got very little sleep, went to work for 8 hours, and still decided to go to the punk rock show. Some would call that hardcore. I call it poor decision making.

But these records are both amazing! Hopeless Romantic got me into the Souls, How I Spent My Summer Vacation kept me into them. Also I was going to hang out with Keithage at this show.

Night three had three opening bands. I missed the first one, so I’m consistent on that end. Caught half of the second one whose name I don’t remember but do recall they were from Kansas City, Missouri, and loved the fact that they were. I only caught half their set and they mentioned it like 3 times in addition to wearing a button that read “I love KC” and had giant “KCMS” stickers on the back of the guitar. They made an effort to ensure we saw the back of the guitar. Nobody cares about Kansas City.

The other opening band was Broadway Calls. Saw them one other time and they were opening up for the Souls then too. They’re decent. Keithage pointed out that they sounded like the Gamits but were less cool.

This was the night the Souls appeared to be the most comfortable. I can’t saw if this was due to the material or having played the two previous nights or just the fact that it was a Friday, and according to the Alkaholiks, “From city to city/ coast to coast/ Friday night is the night/ they like to party the most.”

The thing I noticed as I listen to them play How I Spent My Summer Vacation was I have connected most of these songs to my friends in some way. So these songs had special meanings to me and that only upped the value of the show.

The highlights of night three were “Kids and Heroes.” Perhaps you remember that being one of the most listened to songs on my iTunes? If not it was and I love it so much that when I get to hear it live I’m on cloud fucking nine. Then there was getting to share this experience Keithage. For as much as I refer to my friends as jerks and weirdos, they’re my jerks and weirdos.

Night Four – The Gold Record; Ghost On the Boardwalk

Night four started out with pizza and beer at Two Fisted Mario’s with Keithage and his lovely wife Corriander, she was going partake in the punk rock with us for this night. Girls at punks shows is always a plus.

My perfect game of missing the first band was spoiled this night as dinner downtown meant we got there earlier. The band that ruined my bid was a local act called Heart and Soul Radio. I’m not sure if the crowd was less into their cover of Cee-Lo Green or the Presidents of the United States. Point is this band was terrible and they yelled at the crowd for not being more active and into them. This is an easy fix, play music that will hype us up, not yell at us for not yet being drunk.

Next up was Teenage Bottle Rocket. These guys are your standard skate punk band and they were pretty good. They win second place for the opening bands I saw, after Youth Brigade. Also these guys are from Wyoming. I didn’t even think punk rock existed in Wyoming.

The Gold Record is one of my favorites. I was in this weird, kind of down state when the album was released and it seemed like every song was written specifically for me. It was amazing and for that the album means a lot to me. And what was great was they didn’t play the one song on the record that I believe keeps the album from being flawless. The one track I always skip and they didn’t play it. It was really like I was listening to the album.

This was the first time I got to see the band since the released Ghost on the Boardwalk. I was getting the chance to see these newer songs. Though they left a couple out so they could play a few other songs not on full length albums and a new song. Then they mentioned that the new record was recorded in Fort Collins at the Blasting Room. It is so great there is this recording studio nearby that is sought after by punk bands across the country.

The highlights from night four were the perfect playing of The Gold Record. And the culmination of the four nights. It was the final piece that made the experience whole. It felt complete and it felt right.

I’m not sure if this was something I’m glad I did at this age as I feel like I would have appreciated it more than the younger me, but I know it is something that my younger body would have preferred. Whatever the case this was an experience I was glad I did despite the exhaustion I felt by the end. There would have been no way I could have chosen just one night to go to. But now that I have done this I am ok with not ever doing four nights of punk rock again, even if Rancid does this same gimmick.

But no matter what, I will sing along forever.

See ya in the pit…