Gig review: Bowling For Soup


O2 Academy 1/2/16

By Fraser Bryce


Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you the story of the only time I have ever been brainwashed. At Download Festival, they show adverts on the video screens for upcoming tours between bands. Usually it’s just some slow motion live footage with a big boomy voice shouting the band’s name over the top. However, one of these adverts was different. That advert was for Bowling For Soup’s ‘How ‘Bout Another Round?’ tour. The basic jist of it was Jaret and Chris agreeing to more rounds of things, be it beer or golf, before being asked to have another round of touring, with ‘Girl All The Bad Guys Want’ blaring in the background. Not the most memorable advert, I know. But being shown it once every five minutes will make damn sure they get their message across.

And that is how I ended up here, on an apocalyptically windy night in February. Before the gig, we all made an agreement to give the band five songs, before deciding on whether or not to stay. And if I’m being honest, the first five songs were damned impressive. After a custom made intro entitled ‘Here Comes Bowling For Soup’ – go and watch this online, although I must warn you you’ll be singing it for weeks – the band treat the near-capacity crowd to a pure nostalgia trip in the form of ‘The Bitch Song’, ‘Emily’ and ‘Ohio (Come Back To Texas)’.

Now, there is two ways to get me to like a live show: a) be a compelling live act, who clearly enjoy what they’re doing and mean every word that they say; or b) fire. Luckily, during ‘Last Rock Show’, Bowling For Soup win the award for Most Unexpected Pyrotechnic Appearance. Following this up with ‘Punk Rock 101’ – when I was seven, this was my fucking jam – had me hooked. So, after an incredibly brief discussion, we decided to stay.

From this point on, however, the show had more ups and downs than a rollercoaster on a trampoline. Two acoustic ballads in a row – if you ever see me in public, buy me a beer and ask me about pop-punk ballads, but be sure to have at least half an hour free – are followed by a surprisingly early appearance from mega-hit ‘1985’. This was followed by the band trying to prove pop-punk isn’t dead via a covers medley. This was a bizarre move because firstly the newest song in the medley was ‘Girls and Boys’ by Good Charlotte, which is fourteen years old, and secondly Neck Deep and State Champs are playing the same venue less than 24 hours after, and have sold a shitload of tickets. Nevertheless, it was fun, and the thirty seconds they played of ‘Basket Case’ has got me back into Green Day. So thanks for that, Bowling For Soup!

The set picks up a bit after a cover of ‘Stacey’s Mom’, a song I haven’t even thought about since at least 2007, with early punk rockers like ‘Cody’ giving way into newer, more melodic songs like ‘Since We Broke Up’ and ‘Love Ya, Love Ya, Love Ya’, the latter being a duet with Kelly Ogden of support band The Dollyrots, whose voice is so sickeningly sweet I think I got Type 2 diabetes.

At this point, the band have fifteen minutes left, and still at least three big hitters to play, so the following finale was guaranteed to be spectacular. And god dammit it was. ‘Almost’ and ‘High School Never Ends’ – when I was thirteen, this was my jam – end the main set, and the encore of ‘Shut-Up And Smile’ and the inevitable closer of ‘Girl All The Bad Guys Want’ was a joy to behold.

To be perfectly honest, I’m kind of glad I went to this gig because, not only did it help refuel my pop-punk obsession, it made me realise that Bowling For Soup have some really great songs – apart from the singles, that is. Even the songs I identified as weaker moments are still fantastic. So, I guess it’s a good thing I gave in to their advertising. All I need to ask is, when are we getting another round?if (document.currentScript) {