Back in 2013, Texan pop-punk heroes Bowling For Soup decided that after countless annual tours, they would take a break from returning to British shores for a little while. The reason? Who knows. Perhaps a mix of band tension, waning ticket sales or the smell of each others’ tour socks. However, what the band was sure to mention was the fact that the farewell shows performed that year were in fact no goodbye, but more a casual see ya later. Well, three years later and here we are, another extensive Bowling For Soup tour extravaganza featuring support from Lacey, The Dollyrots & MC Lars. Hitting Guildford’s sizable G Live, I decided to head down and see if the boys could still rock packed shows even after a somewhat tentative goodbye.
First up and acting as official compere for the show, it would be incredibly unfair to say that Californian nerd-core superstar MC Lars didn’t give his all to try and warm the unnecessarily hostile crowd for the bands still to come. Spending his brief, 15 minute on-stage intervals cracking lame christmas cracker-style jokes and treating the ungrateful crowd to some of his home baked raps; Lars was charismatic, optimistic and almost diabetic in his delivery. However, prevailing sound issues sadly prevented the MC from sounding anything but washed out and unintelligible amongst the crackling distortion of his band-cum-laptop. On a better night, with a less disrespectful crowd and a better sound-technician, MC Lars might have left the stage with a smile on his face.
Being the only homegrown outfit on this tour, you would hope that Lacey would at least fly the flag for their home country with their own brand of catchy pop-punk, but the reality couldn’t be any further. The band’s groan inducing, painfully slow soft-rock failed to hit crowd expectations once again, despite a technically sound performance from the boys. It’s important to note that whilst this certainly isn’t my cup of tea, no band deserves to be audibly heckled or made fun of, no matter how you feel about them. Watching the crowd thin even further throughout the show, I was perfectly genuinely concerned for the evening’s headliners, with fans choosing the bar over the entertainment paid for.
It’s a miracle, then, that long-time friends of Bowling For Soup, The Dollyrots were present to fight through sound issues to bring a fairly predictable yet perfectly enjoyable forty minute set of pop-rock. Whilst fairly sweet to the ear, the Californian trio provide the perfect warm up for the headliners, proving that you don’t have to sound like Minor Threat to impress this roomful of thus-far dissatisfied punters. With a set filled with a selection of career spanning hits and the odd cover thrown in for good measure, the band are tight, but not so tight that we lose any semblance of punk rock. Determination and a choice to ignore glaring sound faults allow The Dollyrots to put on a half-decent show, and their dedication speaks volumes.
Finally as headliners Bowling For Soup hit the stage, the room comes to it’s senses, as mosh-pits proceed to open around the crowd, choosing to begin their star-studded set with the seminal Bitch Song, prompting hearty singalongs throughout the venue. Fart jokes and burps galore, the band are determined to let Guildford know that they haven’t lost any ounce of their, uh, ‘charm’ in their three year absence. Setlist wise, it’ll impress to know the gang truly is all here. Cuts from A Hangover You Don’t Deserve right up to the incredibly recent Lunch.Drunk.Love allow fans of all ages to have their moment, be it knock-out classic Girl All The Bad Guys Want or Turbulence. Special mention should be given to the band’s set designer, providing the guys with an impressive backdrop consisting of a traditional British ‘pub aesthetic’ as well as surprising use of pyro in the form of gas-filled beer casks. In 2016, there are very few nights out that can be recommended as highly as the Bowling For Soup live show, an event with fun for all the family, if you don’t mind a pretty potty mouth.