Sunday, as everyone knows, is a day of rest. It is not a day you should leave your house after the sun has gone down and make a pilgrimage to the grimiest venue in London. The Garage – which Mean Fiddler have declined to clean for seven years, apparently under the impression that this gives it more of an authentic rock atmosphere.

So there is already something slightly irreligious about this gig. Even before the bouncer who looks like a distant cousin of Cerberus has glared down at you. Even before the bored girl in the cloakroom has sneered at you in a way that makes it clear she would rather be kissing a leper than breathing the same air as you. Then you walk into a sea of freshly purchased ‘Bouncing Souls’ T-shirts (black, of course) and see a man who is easily over seven foot tall casually flick his still lit cigarette into the face of a teenage girl standing opposite. The scene, as they say, is well and truly set and God is not in the house tonight.

The Souls stroll on when most right-thinking people are going bed and proceed in a pretty standard American punk style. A solid and competent band they are never less than solid, but for the first few songs they never really reach inspiring. Temperatures rise to a hellish level, which may explain why the singer rarely raises his movements above a shuffle. Never does any sign of sweat mare his very fetching salmon pink shirt. Everyone else in the venue is quickly dripping. Not that this moisture level seems to bother the crowd, who entertain themselves by jumping on the stage to take pictures of themselves with the band – "this is one of me with the Bouncing Souls, in hell." There is some very twisted humour at work as well; as the band are halfway through a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Growing Up’ a dwarf wanders past.

The gig’s turning point comes when the band start making jokes about pronunciation. When a band are reduced to commenting on how Americans say the word Garage differently from the British you have to worry. Realising perhaps that they’ve gone too far, the Souls, however, then turn it up way past eleven and put in a sterling closing run. Or whatever the American equivalent of sterling is. The gig gets better with every song.

The crowd of misfits are clearly having a great time and when the bassist yells “This song is about not fitting in. I hope you’re not fitting in” he’s clearly preaching to the converted. As the night ends and everyone staggers home you have to wonder why anyone ever thought Sunday should be a day of rest.















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