Bowling For Soup - Roundhouse, London
It’s a reviewing cop out to say that a gig would only appeal to fans of the band and cop out though it may be, there’s no more relevant example than a Bowling For Soup gig. Much like with their albums, their live sets are unlikely to sway any neutrals dragged along by a fan as they are very much in the same imitable Bowling For Soup style as their recorded work is. Fun is the watchword and the majority of it throughout the night falls within the juvenile bracket: sensible adults are not wanted here.
Banter between the band members is constant throughout the set, and practically every break between songs, with topics ranging from broken condoms to Jaret’s choice of alcoholic beverage. Childish though it may be, it’s carried out in such a playful manner that you can’t help but laugh against your better judgement. This playfulness also extends to their set list where one of the highlights of the night is a brilliant punk rock rendition of Katy Perry’s smash hit ‘Hot N Cold’ during which Jaret goads the crowd into singing the chorus as he’s confident that they knew the words. Shame is one feeling not allowed during a Bowling For Soup gig.
Despite attempts at crowd sing-alongs being hit and miss, one attempt during ‘High School Never Ends’ is met with almost near-silence, the band aren’t afraid to change things up from the album versions of the songs. The Leftovers, incidentally also the best support act of the night as well, came out to play the final chorus of ‘Ohio (Come Back To Texas)’ after an extended bridge section and ‘Punk Rock 101’ was halted by the band in order for them to pose for a “once in a lifetime band photo op” resulting in mass phone flashes appearing around the venue. This was soundtracked by Kool And The Gang’s hit ‘Celebration’ which provided another memorable moment of the night as the band strutted their stuff to the track long after the photo ops were finished.
However, while the entertainment side of the gig was flawless, the music side let it down. This wasn’t a fault with the set list which, while obviously focussing on their new album, still managed to touch on older material such as Drunk Enough To Dance’s ‘Life After Lisa’ and Let’s Do It For Johnny’s ‘The Bitch Song’, but more with the acoustics. It seemed as though the balance was always wrong throughout the set with central hooks in certain songs being lost in the over-powering instrumental, especially evident on their more recognisable hits ‘High School Never Ends’ and ‘My Wena’, and with Jaret’s microphone occasionally letting out a short, sharp nails-on-a-chalkboard noise during louder notes.
It’s hard to know exactly where the responsibilities for the sound issues lay, either with the Roundhouse as a venue or the band, but the fifteen minute turnaround between the main support act Zebrahead and Bowling For Soup’s arrival on stage probably didn’t help matters. Perhaps for the sacrifice of a couple of songs in the set list, a longer turnaround might have ironed out issues that, while not completely destroying the enjoyment of the gig, certainly lessened the impact of the bigger songs of the night which is a situation that is pretty much inexcusable.
Even with this disappointment, the night was still ended on a high with the party atmosphere of set ender ‘A Really Cool Dance Song’ which saw all the support bands come on stage at the climax, and a genius performance of ‘1985’ where Jaret encouraged the crowd to sing back the song in both a falsetto style and in the style of Antonio Banderas which they duly attempted.
It’s these kind of touches that ensured that, despite any sound issues, the night still remained a unique and enjoyable experience; the kind of experience that wouldn't win over any Bowling For Soup critics, and would in fact probably confirm their beliefs that they are a ‘joke’ band, but when the joke is this fun, who cares?
THE BITCH SONG
OHIO (COME BACK TO TEXAS)
NO HABLO INGLÉS
LIFE AFTER LISA
HIGH SCHOOL NEVER ENDS
THE LAST ROCK SHOW
PUNK ROCK 101
HOT N COLD (Katy Perry cover)
HOORAY FOR BEER
WHEN WE DIE
GIRL ALL THE BAD GUYS WANT
A REALLY COOL DANCE SONG