Tuesday, July 31, 2012
As I approached Altar Bar on Friday July 27th, I didn't quite know what to expect out of my evening; I'm sure I wasn't the only one. Standing in line, it seemed that everyone was waiting for a normal, run of the mill show. While it had all the markings of a standard night at Altar Bar, by the end of the night Punchline seemed to set the bar high for set length.
Taking the stage around 8:30, Punchline wasted no time kicking into its first set. Loaded with fan-favorite songs such as "Don't Try This At Home", "Stop", and the ironic selection "Just Getting Started", the set was a 45-minute onslaught of the band's signature energy. There were minimal stops to talk to the crowd, as the band was saving the inevitable thank-you speeches and stories of being a band for 15 years. The only downside was that the crowd took a long time to get warmed up and show any enthusiasm.
After a 20-minute intermission, Punchline took the stage for the second set. While the chill factor was raised for this set, it was also kept interesting by special guest appearances by former drummer PJ Caruso, former guitarist Jon Belan, and long-time collaborating producer Mike Ofca. Primary vocalist Steve Soboslai commented before playing the band's song "Keystoned" that the song was in the running for Belle Vernon High School's class song of 2012, but was beaten by "some country song". After running through another 13 songs, the band took an additional intermission before its final set.
By the time Punchline took the stage for its final set of the evening, everyone was loosened up and finally into the music, dancing and singing along. Opening with the essential Punchline song "Play", the band launched into the final 11 songs of the evening. Soboslai mentioned that the final set would be easy on the band, as they have played these songs "a million times". With a broad selection of songs from the band's catalog from 2000 to the present, Punchline delivered a set that was not to be matched to end the evening. Expressing gratitude to everyone that attended the show, watched it live on the internet via StageIt, and supported the band through the last 15 years, the band ended the night with the loosely themed match-up of "Universe" and "A Universal Theme".