With quite the back catalogue of shows and what seems like endless touring, how many times can you really see Bowling For Soup live before it gets old? Well, the answer is limitless because every time they tour they always offer up something different. Two years ago BFS did a farewell tour which most assumed would see their touring and music days come to end but here we are at the start of 2016 and they’re back on the road on the ‘How About Another Round Tour’. Without an album to promote it’s more of a friendly gathering. They’re here to have for some fun and to remind the crowd how much they’ve been missed.
First up we catch The Dollyrots who are quite the close friends to BFS. They released a split EP together back in 2011 and have been on numerous tours together. They’re quite the excitable bunch on stage and scream girl power with their new drummer who boosts their rock n roll presence. We get the odd chat off singer Kelly Ogden, which descends into rugby-related awkwardness, but as perfectly matched as they are for a support they don’t quite get the crowd as lively as I imagine they could. Their set somewhat loses momentum.
MC Lars strides back onto the stage to do his two song bit and it’s an interesting set up for a gig. I’ve never quite seen a DJ play/rap songs into between sets, because in all honestly, it’s unnecessary. The change over is quick and only delayed due to MC Lars but in all fairness he gets the crowd hyped up – they seem more connected to him than any of the supports. There’s no hesitation to sing along to and hold out possessions for him to rap about. It’s put a smile on many faces and people are on a high ready, waiting.
Bowling For Soup stroll on to a wave of smiles and cheers. The stage is set up to look like your typical dingy bar but tonight there’s an added romance in the air as hearts and signs decorate the stage. After opening with The Bitch Song the first thing Jaret does is confront his weight, which must be a hard thing to do especially in todays social media climate. He confronts the abuse he’s had, and that it’s uplifting and inspiring that fans only love him even more. One things BFS do is feel comfortable on stage – they don’t care, they’re just here to have a good time.
With BFS comes the usual banter between songs and it doesn’t take long for the tone to drop. The night is dominated by wank jokes, and I mean dominated. Banter is what they do so well that many other bands lack and it opens a barrier between the band and crowd to almost be friends. It creates a friendly, welcoming atmosphere around the venue, and even with a bigger venue than previously it still doesn’t distance them from the fans.
To add effect to the pub look they take a short break at the bar to grab some drinks where friends hang out for the set. It’s somewhat funny and just another pleasing thing BFS manage to do. They manage to break songs up without losing the audience in between before hurdling back into the song after some rather witty chat – it really wouldn’t be a BFS gig without it.
Hit 1985 really sees the venue at one of its highest points of the night with the crowd feeling animated. As you look around couples everywhere dance the night away.
Half way through sees the band get serious and talk about how they read pop punk is dead before voiding that dastardly article by playing a mixture of various pop punk band covers. “We helped create that shit” claims Jaret. In true style they cover Stacy’s Mom before getting back to the wank jokes. “There’s no sheep fucker jokes” Jaret shouts before interrupted by guitarist Chris, “We’re Texas cow fuckers, we’re all in it together”.
They bring The Dollrots back out to play Love Ya, Love Ya, Love Ya and it’s quite the playful chemistry onstage. Jaret and Kelly play off each other with lyrics before getting into a karate-move-off, giggling and carrying on.
Honestly, I was expecting a Valentines twist on tonight but it seems they’ve played the same setlist throughout the UK tour – it’s a little uninspiring on the bands side but all in all, it’s been a strange, wonderful and entertaining night. Although the banter felt too much at points they still managed to squeeze in around 18 songs to a loving crowd on this Sunday Valentine’s night. Love is in the air, and the crowd for one are thankful they’re back. They’re a band who always live up to their expectations.
So, when’s the next round?
Bowling For SoupCardiff Great Hall, February 14th 2016
Photographer: Nadine Ballantyne