Four years after their last visit to Dublin Bowling For Soup have had a farewell tour, a reunion, and now have a brand new album ‘Drunk Dynasty’ under their collective belts. The question is are they still as relevant and irreverent as ever?
The sold out venue (first time to do so in Dublin) and young audience tonight would definitely seem to suggest that they are and there is a really good buzz around The Academy long before any of the bands even hit the stage.
When I say hit the stage I mean it quite literally with tonight’s opening act The Bottom Line. It’s brilliant to see a young band so full of energy and enthusiasm that even a gig veteran like myself can’t help but take full notice of them. They have only a short six song set but they use it to great effect, literally powering through ‘I Still Hate You’, ‘Insecure’, a fantastic version of the Wheatus classic ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ to name but a few songs. They make every inch of the stage their own and are certainly not found wanting in confidence, ability or sheer stage presence. They also have a damn good front man in Callum who is not afraid to go crowd surfing tonight, much to the audiences delight. They finish their set with a blistering ‘Record Player’ and a promise to come back. Judging by the reaction of the audience tonight I think they have made a lot of new fans who will want to see them again. (4/5)
It’s going to be tough to follow such an act and it’s a bit of an uphill struggle for Lacey tonight. Again, with a short set they have limited time to win the audience over, and try as they might it doesn’t quite go their way this time. They have some really good songs in their set ‘Change The Story’, ‘Ghost While I’m Alive’ and a pretty good cover of Blink 182’s ‘Dammit’ all stand out, as does their ability. Unfortunately they can’t quite match the presence of the openers and the audience quietens down as a result. That being said I’d certainly be willing to check them out again as the last song they play, ‘Shadow’ is pretty impressive stuff. (3/5)
Now, time to answer the question posed at the beginning of the review! Can Bowling For Soup still deliver? That question is answered in seconds with the truly classic ‘The Bitch Song’ followed hard and fast by ‘High School Never Ends’. It’s like they’ve never been away at all. BFS really do have it all and they truly deliver here tonight. Songs you can, but possibly shouldn’t, sing along with but just can’t help yourself. It’s music that makes you smile and these days we need it. Onstage it’s all the usual messing around we’ve come to expect and love from Bowling For Soup, Chris flicking guitar pics which he rarely catches, Jaret drinking and making the most wonderfully funny and off colour comments imaginable, all the while the audience just lap it up which in turn seems to drive the band on even further.
Then it’s another classic, an ode to their home state, the aptly titled ‘Ohio (Come Back To Texas)’, swiftly followed by the ever so classy ‘My Wena’. At this early stage the audience is already hitting fever pitch so the band decide to take it down a little and play their power ballad (their words, not mine), ‘Turbulence’. It’s amazing to look around and hear the entire venue singing ALL the lyrics and Jaret seems especially happy with this as he celebrates with a little drink.
From this point on the gig just goes from strength to strength as the BFS pull out classic after classic in the form of ‘The Last Rock Show’, ‘Punk Rock 101’ and the always excellent ‘Shut Up And Smile’. In fact, only one track from ‘Drunk Dynasty’ is played tonight, this being ‘Hey Diane’ and it’s extremely well received despite only being released days earlier….everybody in attendance has clearly done their homework.
As the set goes on, the jokes and conversation onstage get lewder with poor Erik becoming the butt of the worst of the comments but still the music dominates, until Pete from Lacey is brought onstage for his birthday lap dance, the BFS crew (2 Tonnes of Fun) will live long in his and our collective memories after that episode.
It wouldn’t be a Bowling For Soup show if they didn’t do their band photo opportunity, and they don’t disappoint, posing like their lives depend on it to the strains of ‘Yankee Rose’ by David Lee Roth. Unfortunately, like all good things, the gig draws to a close with the band and audience (by now a sweaty mess) feeding off each others energy. ‘Girl All The Bad Guys Want’ closes the set proper before the band almost immediately reappear to attempt to remove the roof of The Academy with the magnificent ‘1985’.
Rarely have I seen so many happy, smiling faces trooping out into a cold October night and that’s precisely the reason we still need bands that haven’t lost their sense of fun like Bowling For Soup. Did I enjoy it? If you read the review then the answer must surely be pretty obvious. Now go and purchase ‘Drunk Dynasty’, it’s excellent. (5/5)
As a postscript, I’ve heard from Lacey that Pete is a little traumatised but otherwise making a good recovery, the crew have yet to be paid for the dance though.
Photos by Down The Barrel Photography[flickrapi user=”planet mosh” get=”photoset” id=”72157675469289245″ size=”z” count=”100″]
The Bitch Song
High School Never Ends
Ohio (Come back To Texas)
The Last Rock Show
Punk Rock 101
Stacey’s Mom (Fountain’s of Wayne cover)
Today Is Gonna Be A Great Day
Since We Broke Up
Shut Up And Smile
Girl All The Bad Guys Want