It just wouldn’t be a calendar year without Bowling For Soup making a visit to the UK. Although they’ve already been here this year and Jaret Reddick brought his Heartache and Hilarity tour back over a few months ago. Now, the pop-punk foursome return for their Almost Christmas tour, taking in places they’ve not visited in years and a couple of brand new towns. Instead of Glasgow, Scotland’s date is Edinburgh and to entice people over to the East, they’ve brought a couple of support bands you’ve seen on these pages before.
Making waves, Not Ur Girlfrenz have the unenviable honour of opening proceedings. Having appeared on our pages quite a bit recently, I knew what to expect – pop-punk played by a trio of Texan teenage girls. Taking the already sizeable crowd in their stride, they batter through the set with aplomb. Some bits are poppier, some punkier but professional and polished beyond their years. I’ve never seen such a young band this slick in my life.
They nail the banter with the crowd such as the brand new song “Game Over” and apologise in advance for potential name changes (but we heard the original), they nail the sales pitch of where to buy merch, they nail how to pronounce Edinburgh, the cover of Paramore’s “Misery Business”, the thank yous to the crowd, the thank yous to Bowling For Soup. Everything. They know when to bring it down for the acoustic number, “Somehow”, and ask for lighters and mobile phone lights. But the absolute definitive high point is the last song – “No-one Asked You Anyway”. It’s criminally catchy, they leave the stage to rapturous applause and even a few people demanding “one more song!”
Patent Pending take to the stage next and immediately, they scream “fun”. They’re out to make sure you have as much fun in the audience as they have on stage. However, by the end of the first song, Joe is quick to have a comedic rant about the lack of activity from the crowd. “You guys have to wake up – this is the weirdest shit ever!” But in fairness, for Edinburgh, this is what passes for normal.
Amongst all the fun they’re having, trying their damnedest to warm up the crowd (and succeeding, I might add) with their synchronised dance moves which would put the Backstreet Boys, Nsync et al to shame, there’s a great anecdote from Joe about meeting Not Ur Girlfrenz and their parents during soundcheck and how their song mentions “Motherfucker”. A lot. And constantly reminded that the young band’s parents are there. “Because they’re children!”
Meanwhile, “Brighter” brings it down a notch to give people the encouragement to make the world a better place, before the one-two finish of a rousing version of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” and closer “Douchebag” which Joe claims is “definitely about him”.
Foregoing the usual intro of “Here Comes Bowling For Soup”, the quartet stroll on to “We’re a Couple of Misfits” before the first of three renditions of “Corner Store on Christmas” and then launch into “Almost”. However, before the end of the song, Jaret Reddick apologises for walking funny and explaining his luggage from the US has been lost and he had to buy underwear from Primark – cue a bunch of hilarious dick jokes. Ladies and gentlemen, Bowling For Soup are back!
A couple of standards with “The Bitch Song” and “Life After Lisa” follow before “Frosty the Snowman”. Well, it is a Christmas tour, after all! Then, they go into a few songs people actually recognise (their words, not mine).
And this basically continues for the rest of the night. Fun songs punctuated with jokes. It’s one of the reasons I keep going back to see Bowling For Soup because even when they’re not playing their great, catchy songs, they’re ensuring you have fun and leave with a smile. The band make a point of verbally abusing Rob on bass (usually he’s playing with Patent Pending) who is filling in for Erik Chandler. But given they’re two bands who have a long history, there’s a great chemistry between them. There are constant jokes about Led Zeppelin and of course, the usual chance to take a picture of the band. To the tune of Wham’s “Last Christmas”. So if you were taking part in Whamageddon, you just lost, sorry.
Meanwhile, the end of “Ohio (Come Back to Texas)” has Joe from Patent Pending lead Not Ur Girlfrenz to its finale as Bowling For Soup take a break at the bar. Then, “Today is Gonna Be a Great Day”, “Get Happy”, “Stacy’s Mom” and the final rendition of “Corner Store on Christmas” brings the main set to an end as “Last Christmas” plays out once more.
As the band fight their curfew, it’s time for the biggest hits. “Girl All the Bad Guys Want” leads into a last-minute request of “Emily” before, of course, “1985”. It ends what has been a great night on a massive high. There’s something wonderful about seeing Bowling For Soup that makes even those in the worst of moods wear a big grin by the end. With all three bands ensuring they not only gave it their all but succeeded in their mission to entertain people for an evening. I haven’t laughed that much at a gig in my life and that includes the likes of Hayseed Dixie and Steel Panther. As for Bowling For Soup, they gave the best performance I’ve seen from them yet and I defy anyone to go to a pop-punk show like this and not have fun.
Photos by Coops Gig Photography