If there is a must do Summer activity in New Jersey, besides go to the beach, it is attending one of the best yearly shows, Stoked For The Summer. The show, which was started and always headlined by The Bouncing Souls, happens every year at the The Stone Pony Summer Stage. Each band that plays is handpicked by the Souls themselves and it is always guaranteed to be a well rounded lineup with something for everyone. Even with the worry of the pandemic, the Souls were able to still put together a great lineup for 2021.
Opening the show was Epitaph Records newest signing Soul Glo. Hailing from Philadelphia Soul Glo puts on one of the most invigorating and emotional drawn shows. Unfortunately, due to traffic I missed the first few songs and wasn’t able to photograph from the photo pit, but I made the best of it photographing from the crowd. With the rain starting to come down, the crowd that was present were grooving to Soul Glo and it didn’t phase them that a storm was coming. It actually was nice to witness this where I was photographing because it felt more like watching Soul Glo in say a basement than a big stage and being disconnected from the crowd. Soul Glo is definitely a band to watch and if they are in your area catch one of their shows.
The best way to sum up the Suicide Machines set was apocalyptic. By the second song, S.O.S., lead singer Jay Navarro was in the crowd and stayed in the crowd for at least 90% of their set. At some points you couldn’t even see where he was. His words before he jumped in the crowd was along the lines that COVID is on the up tick again, mind as well live it up one more time and with that Suicides Machines set was the best ever. With a 10 song set and the rain coming down harder Suicide Machines might have had the best set of the day for they didn’t let any outside forces take away the power of the music and the crowd embraced every minute of it.
As Sick Of It All took the stage, lead singer Lou Koller said let’s scare this storm away, and scared away the crowd did. The rain stopped and the circle pit opened. Sick Of It All played an intense hardcore filled set, that had no breaks or slow downs. The crowd was a constant pit and crowd surf that I am sure if it was still raining that wouldn’t have slowed anyone down. With a short set time, Sick Of It All played at least one song from each album. Being a band that’s been around for 35 years, picking one song from each album might have been a challenge, but they did a good job with the songs they chose and judging by the reaction of the crowd they were just as happy.
New Jersey could be the Menzingers second home. Pennsylvania is obviously their first home, but the ties the Menzingers have to New Jersey is countless and The Bouncing Souls one of the biggest parts. This isn’t the first time the Menzingers have played Stoked For The Summer and I am sure it won’t be the last. This time around though their set hit different, especially when they played “Lookers”, which they could’ve ended their set to be honest. The references to New Jersey are many in that song and knowing the Wonder Bar’s Tillie is in plain sight from the Stone Pony, goosebumps formed just hearing the New Jersey crowd sing the song back. Hearing that song in New Jersey just hits different than hearing it in Pennsylvania and I am sure it always will.
At this point, the Bouncing Souls should have the key to the city of Asbury Park. With the rain gone and the show sold out, Bouncing Souls played one of the best sets I’ve seen. With a set featuring 28 songs, it sounded like all of Asbury Park was singing along. This show was needed, after the crazy year everyone has been through, Bouncing Souls is a band that brought everyone together to sing and be happy. The best, and possibly first time this happened, was during songs “Simple Man” and “Ghosts On The Boardwalk”, the Bouncing Souls brought out a string section to accompany the band. During the quarantine the Souls released Volume 2 a greatest hits album so to speak, but where the songs are reimagined. Most of the songs featured acoustic guitars and strings, a complete change of sound for the Souls. However, the songs sound just as good as the original and hearing a sample of that live was a great treat. The Stoked For The Summer show is always a great highlight of the Summer, the Bouncing Souls have something special here and when this show comes around it is always guaranteed to be a good time. Mark your calendars, because July 16, 2022 is the current date set for next year!