It was another perfect weekend with a perfect ending in my life. From trekking up to Duluth with some good friends for a great concert with a great cause (a Save The Boundary Waters festival featuring Atmosphere and Doomtree) to a super fun house party on Saturday night that I truly wish I could remember– this weekend was one of those quintessential summer weekends that anyone up here in Minnesota dreams about when stuck in the dead of winter. Honestly, that could have been all for my weekend and I would have been happy as a clam but I had one more event to get through– a bucketlist show for me that I had been looking forward to for months.

I felt like I hadn’t spent much time with my brother lately so I sadly sacrificed the first band to grab a bite of dinner with him prior to the show (my apologies to The Bar Stool Preachers) and made it to The Varsity just after Swingin’ Utters kicked into their always amazing set. I went so many years without seeing the legendary Swingin’ Utters but have had the privilege of catching them a couple of times over the past few years and they never let me down. There’s something so mesmerizing about vocalist Johnny “Peebucks” Bonnel with the way he storms the stage in an almost militant manner while waving his arms around like he has no self control. It looks a little ridiculous at times but also somehow matches the almost chaotic but well put together punk rock sounds of this amazing group. I may have had the fortune of catching this band multiple times lately but it’s still not enough. Here’s to hoping that this band continues to do what they have been doing since the mid-90’s and I continue getting chances to see them live.

Following Swingin’ Utters was The Bronx. These guys are one of those bands that I’ve heard in passing and have been told multiple times that they have a live show that just can not be missed. Full disclosure- I feel like I listen to Mariachi El Bronx (the band’s mariachi band side project– no not kidding) than The Bronx and even then I don’t listen to them that much. That being said, there’s no denying this band’s influence and power in the scene. They have a healthy blend of punk and hardcore sounds that create the perfect atmosphere leading to a Sunday night show feeling a bit more like a Friday or Saturday. The band’s set seemed quick but mighty. With nearly a dozen songs played, it was clear that they are a force when it comes to their live show. The bar was high for this band with a lot of people in my ears chirping about how amazing they are live and I honestly don’t know if I get the hype but there’s no denying that this band has a sense of strength while on stage that refuses to be ignored.

Closing out the night was a bucketlist band for me– The Bouncing Souls. I saw them in passing one year at Riot Fest in Chicago but I feel like it doesn’t really count being that I don’t remember much due to exhaustion and it was truly just in passing as that festival is always so overwhelming as far as trying to catch everyone you want to catch. Last night was finally my chance to let this legendary band captivate me and that’s exactly what they did. The Bouncing Souls have ten albums out dating back to the mid-90’s that truly changed the lives of many people and an entire scene of music. When you cut it down to brass tax, their music is upbeat hardcore but, when you really dig into it, it’s so much more. Upbeat and fun loving with a sense of fury and energy that just can’t be put into words and must just be heard and felt, The Bouncing Souls became a standard in my daily playlist the first time I heard them. That was years ago so being able to finally hear some of those songs be performed live was absolutely perfect and my brother standing by my side all the while was just the icing on the cake.

The setlist for Sunday night’s show was also absolutely perfection. Sure, we all got to hear some of our favorite hits from this band including their brilliant cover of Avoid One Thing’s ‘”Lean On Sheena” and, a personal favorite of mine and clearly the rest of the crowd, “True Believers”, but the band also dove into some deep cuts from their thirty year career. It didn’t matter what song they were performing, there was an undeniable sense of passion that radiated from the band members that was then reflected in the excited audience. Even if you had come to the show alone, you were not alone by the end of it and that just added to the magic of the night and the power of the show. My expectations for The Bouncing Souls were uber high just due to the anticipation of seeing them and loving their music so damn much. Thankfully, they didn’t let me down and now I only regret not catching them sooner and seeing them more often.

Most people like to start their week off with a good night’s sleep in order to feel ready for whatever the upcoming week throws at them. Not me. I’m going off just a couple measly hours of sleep but feel more energized than ever. You take your full eight hours of sleep, I’ll take my good ol’ fashioned punk show.

Line Up:

The Bar Stool Preachers

Swingin’ Utters

The Bronx

The Bouncing Souls

Venue: Varsity Theater

Sausage Fest Meter- 9.8 out of 10

Average Age of the Crowd- 40

Crowd Surfers- 19 Counted

Mosh-Ability- 8.3 out of 10

Stage Divers-  None

Broken Bones- 1 Possible Broken Nose

Spotted Flying Through The Air- Bodies; Drinks

Fights- 0

Pukers- 0

Drunkards Taken Out By Security- 0

Celebrity Sightings- None

Overall Score- 9.1 out of 10

Show on Deck- The Hooten Hallers/ Slim Stone/ Rainbolt Mountain Project

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