Staff report | Photo by Drew Gurian/Red Bull Content Pool

New Brunswick — The Bouncing Souls played their first “official” show ever at the Court Tavern in the early 1990s. The Souls’ return to the New Brunswick club Thursday night felt as if time stood still since then.

Though management of the Court has changed since the Souls first rocked out there, the feel inside hasn’t changed much; it was steamy, bloody and the roof literally came down as crowd surfers continued to kick down ceiling tiles.

The Souls got their start playing/hosting basement shows in New Brunswick. The Court Tavern was their first “official” show in a “real” venue, not counting a Bernarndsville Knights of Columbus show that was “shut down after a couple songs,” said bassist Bryan Kienlen.

Fittingly, the Souls’ kicked off the night with a song about their time in New Brunswick, “Apartment 5F.” They followed that up with some long-time fan favorites they wrote in the Hub City: “The Ballad of Johnny X,” “Kate Is Great” and “East Coast! Fuck You!”

By the time the Souls reached their 8th song of the night, “Lifetime,” their was a gaping hole in the Court basement ceiling. Management was not happy. A nervous Court Tavern employee hopped on stage and threatened to shut down the show if the crowd didn’t tone it down a notch.

“The Court Tavern is old,” lead singer Greg Attonito said. “Take care of it.”

The Souls, not wanting the fun to end so early, helped calm the mood in the room with “The Something Special” and “Ship in a Bottle,” a rare acoustic track in the Souls’ lengthy catalogue of songs.

But the crowd couldn’t hold back when the Souls busted out “Joe Lies (When He Cries)” and a cover of The Ramones’ “Do You Wanna Dance?” More tiles were broken.

The Souls sped through the second half of their set with “Anchors Aweigh,” “Lean on Sheena” and “Hopeless Romantic.”

Nearly 20 songs deep, the Souls — probably in their 40s — were running out of steam. And who can blame them — it felt like a 100 degrees in the basement. But the fans, many of whom were drenched in sweat or shirtless, didn’t want this once-in-a-lifetime moment to end.

Finishing strong, the crowd — and the Souls — gave one more final push during “Gone,” “True Believers” and “Here We Go!”

When writing about the Souls, it’s hard to refrain from using words like “fan favorite” and “sing-a-long songs.” Almost every song by the Bouncing Souls has one, if not both of those characteristics. That’s why the Souls have been around as long as they have. People know they’re going to have a great time when they go to a Souls show.

The exhausted crowd hanging out on the corner of Church and Spring streets after the show didn’t look all that much different than it did nearly 20 years ago — and it probably won’t in another 20 years.

Some other notes from the show:

The Scandals, a New Brunswick-based punk band by way of Bayonne, put on one hell of a show before the Souls came on. Thursday night’s show was on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, which being from Hudson County, had a clear impact on some of the members of the Scandals. Lead singer Jared Hart thanked the crowd for “turning a negative into a positive” on a day that emotionally impacts a lot of people.

• Taco Cat was the first band to play in the show, sponsored by Red Bull. This was their first time in an “official” venue in New Jersey that wasn’t a basement.

Well, someone should clue them in that a show at the Court Tavern isn’t anything more than a glorified basement show. | New Brunswick