Although they’ve been around for almost twenty years, this was only my second Bowling For Soup live performance. I’ve been listening to them since my early teens but I’ve just never been quick enough when getting tickets for their tours. However, after catching their slot at Warped Tour last November, I realised why I simply had to see these guys again. Their gigs are so much more than just a band playing songs and so my delight at getting a ticket this time was tinged with the sadness that this would be their last official UK tour. (Apologies not for the first time for the awful photography! I need either a better camera or money to be able to afford a photographer to take with me to gigs!)
They were supported by New York pop-punks Patent Pending, who were quite possibly the best received support act I’ve seen in a long time. An energetic performance of some catchy tracks and an early appearance by Bowling For Soup frontman Jaret Reddick instantly earned them the crowd’s respect. Patent Pending even proved that they can get serious as well as bring the fun and games with a heartbreaking performance of their track One Less Heart To Break. The end of their set wasn’t the last time we saw them either with a couple of stage invasions during Bowling For Soup’s performance, which saw the two bands share songs and it felt more like a joint gig with no support and main act divide.
Bowling For Soup bring as much comedy to their gigs as music. With four such charismatic and friendly guys on stage, listening to their banter and conversations with the crowd is as inside-warming as their upbeat punk rock. With pauses in between songs to go off on random tangents and of course the “photo opportunity” during Punk Rock 101, they’re a band whose shows really stand out in your memory. Playing classics such as Almost, High School Never Ends, Emily and Girl All The Bad Guys Want, they’re masters at writing songs that people just fall in love with again and again.
As well as their big hits, they visited some of their lesser known songs such as the beautiful Circle, the hilarious double-entendre My Wena and the philosophical When We Die. The running joke that they’re “the Stacy’s Mom band” was brought up with their version of the Fountains Of Wayne song, which they’ve been getting wrongly credited for since its release. A cover of Britney’s Baby One More Time was also featured in the encore which was the perfect introduction to the grand finale of their UK live career -a rather special performance of 1985.
Bowling For Soup have always been about their fans and they introduced us to a guy who played guitar for them at Download Festival 2004. It was great to see that they still have such a strong bond with fans they met years before. Another example of their dedication to their fans’ happiness was a young kid in the crowd, who kept popping up on the shoulders of the crowd throughout the show. On reaching the end of the show, Jaret invited him on stage to play lead on the closing track, 1985. In an obvious state of nerves and excitement, the kid took the guitar and preceded to play the song. After a few hilarious hitches, he finished the song and obviously felt like a rock star in the process.
Another surprise event as part of the last show on the Bid Farewell UK tour was the marriage proposal made by Ryan Hamilton of Jaret’s other project People On Vacation. After playing a song with Jaret, he invited his unsuspecting girlfriend on stage and got down on one knee in front of us all. Luckily she said yes and it was a beautiful moment that everyone present will no doubt remember forever.
These things and many more are the reasons why Bowling For Soup will be greatly missed by the UK. One night with them will leave you unable to stop smiling for hours after and the warm feeling of community that comes with just being amongst them and their fans is so heart-warming. If you’re lucky enough to live outside the UK and get the chance to see them, you must go. Even if you’re not a huge fan of their music, I promise you’ll still have a great time and there really aren’t many bands you can say that about.