Last Thursday night, my usual notions of student-filled Rock City were replaced with swarms of excitable fans ranging from OAPs to pre-GCSEs. The anticipation in the air was because punk-rock comedians Bowling For Soup were in the building with high standards to keep to in their 18th year and 30th visit to the UK. I spoke to bassist Erik Chandler before the gig and got an idea as to why the UK shows were so important. “The fans here have been absolutely amazing from the start… one thing we’re all aware of is that we couldn’t do this without them.”
As I entered the crowd there wasn’t any impatience, they were full of energy as punk band The Dollyrots bounced about on stage. On only their second ever visit to the UK they seemed to hold an amazing bond with the crowd – their songs are catchy and fast, rough around the edges and fronted by the sweet and quirky Kelly Ogden, who, with platinum blonde hair and a beaming grin, had the crowd more or less in the palm of her hand. The Dollyrots‘ songs seemed to fit in well with the Soup fans, such as tongue-in-cheek and ever so danceable ‘Because I’m Awesome’ which had Kelly and band mate Luis singing to each other back and forth, creating a fun visual as well as a brilliant song that really showed off their personalities and friendship.
So, by the time that Bowling for Soup came on stage the crowd were already hyped up and ready to go, with hoards of people stampeding to the stage from the bar at the first twang of a guitar. The BFS guys like to show everyone they’re here for a good time, and gave us a little tour of their personal on-stage bar, declaring “tonight, we will drink ALL the vodka!” And so, as it seems it’d be rude not to, they played their booze related anthems, new song ‘Let’s Go to the Pub’ and older favourite ‘Hooray for Beer’. It’s exactly these kind of jokes and bits that BFS are known for and why no two shows are exactly the same. Erik told me: “we have some friends where every night is the same thing, rehearsed like a play. The setlist is the same and even the bits in between the songs… we’re on stage entertaining ourselves basically and the setlist kind of works itself out.”
I completely saw what Erik meant as I watched them on stage. Between microphone problems being drowned out by well practised fans during ‘My Wena’, cheeky vodka breaks, plenty of STD jokes and a member of their team telling them that they really should start playing some songs sometime soon, the BFS guys created a show that was more than just watching a band. They’re interactive, personal and it feels like they could be your best buddies. Erik explained to me how it became the band’s way. “We figured out really, really quickly that if once we were done playing we hung out and talked to people that they started coming back and they’d bring and become friends. It’s not so much like that any more, but that’s how we developed the idea of being so involved with our audience and with the fans.”
The audience never strayed from being upbeat and fanatical the entire night as BFS threw out much loved favourites like ‘1985’ and of course ‘Girl All the Bad Guys Want’. The tour itself accompanies an album release featuring both their support acts and the show tied in nicely with it’s content, Kelly Ogden coming on stage for ‘The Bitch Song’ and Patent Pending’s full band taking over and creating harder, louder and double-time final chorus for ‘Ohio’.
Erik told me, “hearing our favourite friends in the world covering our songs and doing them well, you know, doing them justice – that’s the coolest thing about this whole tour.”
Kamiah has been listening to Janice Graham Band – It’s Not Me