Heading to a mid tour show can often be a risky move. The adrenaline that starting a tour brings is on the wane and it's not close enough to the end for any pranks that might be played. Nevertheless, I headed to Rock City in Nottingham to see Bowling For Soup for the second time in 4 days.
A local band started proceedings for me in the form of Lacey. They didn't do anything particularly spectacular and seemed to play the part of backing music for a disinterested crowd for the most part. They didn't do anything wrong throughout their half an hour set, it just seemed that they didn't really fit in on a tour that was primarily aimed at being fun. They have a headline show in Nottingham not too far down the line and I'm sure in front of a crowd of primarily their own fans they’ll go down a lot better. MC Lars came on to the try and break the evening up a bit by getting a girl out of the crowd and making her say something about a laptop. It would have worked well if he was on stage for the whole changeover time, but the fact he came on with about 5 minutes to go before The Dollyrots came on made it feel like he was delaying the next band instead of making the break feel shorter.
When The Dollyrots did eventually make it to the stage it was to mixed emotions from myself – I was happy that MC Lars was off the stage, but I was not subject to a set from The Dollyrots. Anyone that’s familiar with Wanda from hit kids show My Fairly Odd Parents or the girl from shameful 90s hit Barbie Girl will know roughly what frontwoman Kelly Ogden sounds like - and after a couple of songs it really started to take an effect on the ears. Most of their set was ok and did well to pass the time, but the between songs 'banter' was what made it drag. It felt like it was well rehearsed and unnatural. Musically they're ok, though if you're unfamiliar with the songs it can feel a bit of a mess. Their time on stage soon came to an end, though it was helped by a beer run in the middle. Following their set MC Lars came on to perform his collaboration with Bowling For Soup's Jaret Reddick - Download This Song. This time round he managed to get the crowd singing along to the tune of Iggy Pop's The Passenger, though his rapping over a backing track wasn't appreciated on the whole.
Bowling For Soup took to the stage about 10 minutes after their stage time (bloody prima donnas!) to what can only be described as rapturous applause. Pounding straight into The Bitch Song they get everyone in the crowd off their feet and trying their best to keep up with the pace of the song. This process is repeated through Emily, Ohio (Come Back To Texas), The Last Rock Show and Punk Rock 101, though there is plenty of banter in between these tracks along with the obligatory Punk Rock 101 mid song stop. What is most impressive about the BFS guys is how cohesive they are as a band. They can stop and start a song without even a glance at each other. I always assumed that was because they jokes they had were recycled night after night, but after doing two nights on this tour I know they aren't.
Following the barrage of hits thrown out at the start it was time to take a step back with a couple of rarer tracks for the fans that were around 'from the beginning'. They went down pretty well with the fans in the crowd over the age of 35, but it was 1985 that brought the atmosphere back up to euphoric levels. What followed next started off as a well rehearsed speech from Jaret about the future of pop rock and how it isn't dead, but it was an argument that was completely destroyed when the medley used to back up Jaret's point featured All The Smalls Things, Basket Case, Girls & Boys, My Friends Over You and The Middle. Those five songs range from 1994 to 2002 in their release dates and pretty much do the opposite of backing up the point that the genre isn't dead. Fortunately, the medley went down a storm and it was good to hear a band so proud to have helped form a genre.
Another cover in the form of Stacey's Mom followed before a few a few more filler songs were brought in before Kelly from The Dollyrots returned to the stage to perform Love Ya, Love Ya, Love Ya with the Bowling For Soup guys. The less said about it the better though and luckily Almost followed starting the hit laden march to the curfew. High School Never Ends saw the end of the main setlist and the guys seemingly too tired to leave the stage, making their way over to their bar at the side of the stage. A few gulps later and Shut Up And Smile was being blasted out before the crowd got one final singalong to Girl All The Bad Guys Want.
And so the streets of Nottingham became littered with rock fans streaming out of Rock City satisfied with what they had just experienced. As always the Bowling For Soup show was entertaining and blue in parts. We'll always know that you can't get pregnant doing it 'that way'. The most positive thing that I can say about BFS is that even after seeing them 4 days before, their Nottingham show was still original and thoroughly entertaining. A band that are always worth your hard earned pennies. Now, how about another album?