[UPDATE – full BFS photo set now on Flickr]
Two years after going on a UK-related sabatical, Texas’ favourite pop-punkers return to our nation and their first date of this tour happened to be the Glasgow one. Lucky us! This time around, they brought punk two-and-a-bit piece The Dollyrots, nerd rapper MC Lars and local lads Lacey.
Due to interviews running on (and being refused entry into the venue because I was carrying a poster, so I had to run back to the car to drop it off – seriously, Academy, sort out your door staff), we missed Lacey opening and only caught a couple of brief blasts from MC Lars between the other sets. The last time I saw him was with Suburban Legends, so he’s gone from supporting an act who recently announced they were no longer touring, to one who’ve just announced they’re starting again!
As with the last time, he’s a world apart from the act he’s touring with in terms of musical style but nails it in attitude. This one man nerd-rap machine had the crowd roaring for the couple of songs (well, one – “Download This Song” – and some freestyle work), which was damn impressive given the limited time he had to work with. I gather we saw less of him than we’d have liked due to time constraints. First day on tour, and if something’s going to go wrong and cause an issue then this is the day!
That theme followed the poor Dollyrots who took the phrase “the show must go on” as their motto for the evening. Despite some seriously bad plane trouble to get here, including the delay of their musical equipment, they bounded on stage like the professionals they are, Kelly sporting a bass borrowed from the nice guys in Lacey. Until partway through “Brand New Key” when the strap broke and she spent the remainder of the show squatting on the floor with the bass on her knee while various stagehands tried to fix it with gaffa tape!
Unable to find a solution that was going to work for the rest of their set, a second bass was brought out for her – Erik’s by the looks of it – and they ploughed on regardless. Troopers.
Chucking around their more-punk-than-pop riffs and attitude, they had the crowd bouncing as they giggled their way through a decent half-hour set. They’re nothing if not fun, and possibly one of the cheeriest bands I’ve ever seen, including their touring drummer, Rikki. Their grins throughout the gig reminded me of those scary clothes dummies they use in SE Asia, but without the creepy factor.
They managed to get through a surprising number of songs despite the technical issues and a minute’s break to introduce River, the smallest Dollyrot, who gave Mommy’s microphone a mid-set “check, check” to the pleasure of the crowd. Cute kid. I think the band will have a permanent drummer again in a decade or so.
The band we were all waiting for, though, paraded on stage around half nine as if they’d never been away. Aside from looking older and fatter, obviously. Like I can talk. Touring on the back of their recent crowd-funded compilation album, the set was bound to be a bit of a “best of” and they really did manage to touch on almost all of their albums, which is impressive given how many they’ve released.
Kicking proceedings off, frontman Jaret walked up to the mic, screamed “We’re back, motherfuckers!” and the band blasted into “Bitch Song”, and then on into “Ohio”. As the set progressed, we were treated to the usual lunacy, banter and off-colour humour we know, love and missed for the last couple of years. Songs were paused partway through for beer and joke breaks, pyrotechnics were used for the first time ever, a couple got engaged on stage, and one song got its live debut.
Oh, yeah. One guy “won a competition” so he and his girlfriend could drink on stage with the band. Aaaaaand, no he didn’t. He pestered the hell out of Jaret who eventually let him pretend this was the case to get his mrs up there so he could get down on one knee and pop the questions. I mean, who does that. It’s mental! Oh, wait. I did a few years ago at Hayseed Dixie at the ABC! Congratulations to the happy couple-to-be and well done in fending off the somewhat blue ramblings of Chris and Jaret!
The new song was one recorded for the One Big Happy! album a few years ago, “Love Ya, Love Ya, Love Ya” and featured a duet between Jaret and The Dollyrots’ Kelly. Luis also joined the band on stage to fill in Jaret’s guitar duties while the two of them threw lyrics back and forth at each other like a somewhat weird looking Travolta/Newton-John parody. Funny, rude, off-kilter and the perfect blend of the two bands.
Old song followed new song followed classic followed fart joke. As well as their better known covers (“1985” and “Stacey’s Mom”) we were treated to a “pop punk isn’t dead” medley which had the crowd going somewhat mad. Of course there were staples – “Punk Rock 101”, “High School Never Ends” and the show closer, the “one that started it all off” according to Jaret – “Girl All The Bad Guys Want”.
Bowling For Soup are one of those few bands that entertain the hell out you as well as play songs. Go to their gigs and you don’t just get to jump around and sing along; you get to laugh and experience a complete show. At a good gig, you enjoy the music. At a great gig you enjoy the show. BFS are masters at ensuring the crowd go home smiling as well as having sore throats. We’ve missed them.
But they’re back, motherfuckers.
Photos by Carly Campbell.