‘Hey, we’re Bowling For Soup, the band you can wave at!’
As the time gets to about February, the excitement of Christmas has subsided somewhat and spring is just around the corner- yet winter still seems to be going on forever. So what better to take your mind off those winter blues, than spending the night with Bowling For Soup and Co., who are indeed, the band you can wave at.
MC Lars keeps the crowd entertained during the change-over time, so despite anyone’s views on his act, nobody can deny that it’s better than standing and staring at people setting up for a good twenty minutes. Plus, MC Lars is a laugh a minute; asking the audience to hold up items for him to MC about, taking a girl’s phone to call her mum, attempting to get her to speak to the 2000 strong crowd. It’s hard not to have even a slight bop along to his good-spirited musical shenanigans, proving MC Lars was undoubtedly a good edition to this tour.The same could be said for Lacey, if you’re into that kind of thing. Their vibe doesn’t quite fit in with what the other bands have going on, however they do make for a few mellower moments before the night descends into pop-punk debauchery. Tonight is a smooth track with a chorus that sticks, yet it’s their cover of Blink 182’s Dammit that finally captures the attention of the crowd and earns them the edge they need to not be forgotten tonight.The Dollyrots, however are a burst of colour and charisma, seemingly unafraid to do things exactly how they want to do them, whilst looking like they’re having the time of their lives. Dubbed ‘Bubblegum Punk’, it’s easy to see that the ‘punk’ part is definitely in reference to their live show, which is nothing less than fast paced and sharp, fuelled by the onstage chemistry that emanates from the two primary members, guitarist Luis Cabezas and bassist/vocalist Kelly Ogden. Twist Me To The Left is an abundance of saccharine, yet with perhaps some less than innocent lyrics to go along with it- either way it’s a lot of fun and the Dollyrots seem to automatically tap into energy of the crowd, regardless of the fact the majority are probably there for Bowling For Soup. “This is an American song, but I know there is an English version! The American version is about roller-skates, but it’s really about sex. The English version is about farming equipment, which isn’t very sexy…” explains Ogden, before they launch into their cover of Melanie’s Brand New Key. Jackie Chan, with a little bit of the Buzzcocks cut in the middle is a speedy number, ahead of the Dollyrots’ two year old son making an appearance on the stage, testing the symbols and check checking his Dad’s mic, sending the crowd into a swooning mass of ‘awwwws’ and ‘aaaaahs’. Because I’m Awesome sends them on their way, summing up the general feel of the Dollyrots’ set- like them or not, their conviction is infectious and undeniable.Will the ‘here comes Bowling For Soup!’ entry music said band use to take to the stage ever stop being hugely entertaining? Probably not. If you think otherwise, perhaps Bowling For Soup aren’t the band for you; their age-old formula for entertainment has worked for them thus far, and that’s what it’s all about, you know what they say- if it ain’t broke and all that. One song in (The Bitch Song, it’s great), and the jokes are already in full flow- frontman Jaret Reddick wants to get something cleared up; “let’s get the elephant in the room out right now, who noticed I got really fuckin’ fat?!” a comment which is met with a myriad of cheers from the audience. Regardless of some technical difficulties, Bowling For Soup are still in the highest of spirits; they return to the stage after everything has been rectified to continue rattling through Ohio (Come Back To Texas). Their ‘musically enhanced trip to the mother-fuckin’ bar!’ goes down a treat- which for people unfamiliar with this concept, is when the band play some background music as they chug beer and give people a chance to do the same- an opportunity that many people gladly accept. There are girls invited to the stage (only after profusely promising that they knew the words) for Today Is Gonna Be A Great Day, the theme tune to Phineas and Ferb- the biggest cartoon on the planet, as attested by Jaret Reddick, the theme tune writer himself.In amongst all the jokes and revelry, Reddick, a man who gives the impression that he is seldom serious, takes a moment to be exactly that. “About two years ago we did a farewell tour of your country. Things got pretty fucked up. But today two separate people said our music saved their lives and it’s amazing that songs can do that, I’m so fucking sorry that I almost gave that up”. It’s a speech that seems to resonate somewhat, and gives the room a new energy for the latter half of the show. Turbulence, featuring an electric-acoustic guitar is an honest juncture, which shows Bowling For Soup do genuine just as well as they do the bluest of humour. It’s not a lasting point in time however, as 1985 hits- Reddick still has a ridiculously good live voice which is eternally suited to pop-punk, however it does feel like they’re playing all the songs twice as fast as usual, adding an unnecessary gusto to the show.
Eager to prove their beloved genre is not dead, Bowling For Soup propose a mash-up of everything poppy and everything punky that any self-confessed rock fan has rocked out to at some point in time. All The Small Things gets the ball rolling, before turning into Basket Case, followed by Girls and Boys, which becomes My Friends Over You and then finally The Middle, all leading up to a full cover of Stacey’s Mom. It’s the most fun you could have at a show, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the band; “this is job security!” exclaims Jaret, “if people start to hate us, we’ll just play other shit and people will like it!!” Love Ya, Love Ya, Love Ya featuring the Dollyrots’ Kelly O is another highlight, yet it’s the songs right at the end that everyone has been waiting for. High School Never Ends is a triumph- as if it could ever be anything else and then, the end is nigh. The opening riff for Girl All The Bad Guys want whips the crowd into a frenzy, despite the fact they knew exactly what was coming; there’s not a word missed by anybody in the vicinity. It’s with this, that Bowling For Soup can leave Leeds knowing they’ll always be welcome as bona-fide pop-punk veterans, no matter how many times they try to bid our country farewell.
Photos by Erin Moore at Forte Photography UK