Bowling For Soup returned to the UK after saying farewell back in 2013, and played the O2 Guildhall in Southampton on 13th February. Despite being one of the last venues on the tour, Bowling For Soup and all supporting acts were on top form and whipped the crowd up!
Bowling For Soup were the soundtrack to my teenage years and I was so psyched to get the chance to see them. I knew they’d be great, that their energy would be infectious, and indeed it was. But what I didn’t expect was to be so blown away by the supporting acts. This was the first gig I’ve been to that had a compere, in this case it was MC Lars, the self-proclaimed originator of ‘post-punk laptop rap’. He was slightly cringeworthy but he did undoubtedly create a buzzing atmosphere with his tracks. He also gets extra points from me for singing literary inspired raps such as ‘Dragon Blood’, based on Daenerys Targaryen, and ‘Mr Raven’, inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven.
The first billed support act, Lacey, were introduced as our ‘local’ group despite being Nottingham-based, and were pretty good, though slightly forgettable. The crowd bobbed along but it was a good thing MC Lars came back on to build some excitement for the next supporting act, The Dollyrots.
The Dollyrots are a duo comprised of Kelly Ogden and Luis Cabezas and featured guest drummer Rikki Styxx from The Two-Tens. They’re set was awesome, it got people head-banging and bouncing, and even cooing when Ogden and Cabezas’ son toddled on stage for a guest appearance. The pair of them knew how to work the crowd and their fans, even dedicating one song to an Irish fan and Twitter follower who had come to see the show.
Then came the main event. The stage change between The Dollyrots and Bowling For Soup was rather long and the crowd became a bit restless, but good old MC Lars stepped in to keep everyone on side. He had begun to lose his crowd control at this point though to the beer being consumed and the building excitement. The set list was filled with classics such as ‘1985,’ ‘High School Never Ends,’ ‘Punk Rock 101’ and ‘Ohio (Come Back To Texas)’. During the latter song, frontman Jaret Reddick even got a child, called Logan, up on stage to work the crowd because he was wearing an Ohio t-shirt. The crowd obliged and dutifully chanted the young lad’s name.
The songs sounded amazing live, perhaps better than the recorded versions, although they were played a lot faster which made it feel a bit rushed at times. But the crowd loved it and tried their best to sing along, especially to the classics, including the Phineas and Ferb theme tune! After a relatively short set we were all cheering for an encore, so the band returned to their positions, had a bit of banter with the crowd, and played three more songs ending on everyone’s favourite ‘Girl All the Bad Guys Want.’
In all it was probably one of the best gigs I’ve been to, thanks in part to the intimacy of the venue. You were so close to the stage that it allowed for some really funny interactions with the acts. Best of all, Bowling For Soup made it clear that there would be no more farewells, they were back for good!