Notorious for their ear-worm singles on constant rotation across the world, on-stage goofy antics, and their mischievous nature – Bowling For Soup finally returned to Belfast since they played the now-defunct Mandela Hall back in October 2012. I attended that show as a freshman at the university where the venue was located, and I walked out. Whilst the band’s set was littered with singles and songs I grew up with – the constant tangents and unamusing foolery during many of the songs put me off the show. That’s not to say that other people enjoyed it, don’t allow me to colour your memories of that show or tour.
However, that’s history now. Upon the announcement of their return, they were welcomed with open arms. Their loyal Belfast punters rushed online to bag tickets for the original venue at Limelight, until an upgrade saw the band performing a sold-out show at the bigger and very suitable Telegraph Building. In support of their recent Live at Brixton release amidst other shenanigans, the BFS crew embarked on a quick European jaunt before their 25th birthday celebrations back in Texas, a tour with Reel Big Fish, and all those festivals in the bag too!
On this occasion, they were supported by Nottingham natives Lacey who have been curating a pedigree of supports as of late. For me, Lacey were a straight-ahead alternative rock band heavily influenced by the likes of [later era] Jimmy Eat World, which by utter sheer coincidence after saying that to my fellow media pals, an acoustic rendition of ‘The Middle‘ was performed. Good thing is that I’m a massive fan of Jimmy Eat World so their set went down smoothly. Lacey’s set was energetic from the get-go and the four gentlemen invested themselves into each nuance and dynamic. Frontman Graz, drummer David and guitarist Pete excitedly threw themselves about quite a bit in their own capacities, with Josh just taking it easy to the stage right. They were engaging and surely won a few new fans amongst the growing Belfast crowd. I do imagine Lacey would be better received in a more intimate setting.
Strutting onto the stage came the band of merry men. Bowling For Soup already had the hall screeching like intoxicated banshees hungry for a good time on a miserable Wednesday night. Breaking into ‘The Bitch Song‘ they were already off to a good start; striking poses, maximizing those energy levels and tightening up those dance shoes. The place was manically jumping like fleas trapped in a glass jar. Shifting into the punchy ‘Almost‘ and the incredibly infectious ‘Emily‘ which was dedicated to that ex-girlfriend from days-gone-by. It’s one of those songs thathypnotizes the audience into involuntary mass sing-a-long. Fan-favourite after fan-favourite ensued relentlessly.
The songs were played straight-through with plenty of their signature entertaining yet crude horseplay happening in between sonic treats, including a recurring joke featuring a finger and a particular orifice. I’ll not repeat what they were saying for fear of putting you off your lunch.
The audience were given the quintessential aural delights, which needless to say went down a storm, included the head bopping ‘Punk Rock 101‘, ‘Stacey’s Mom’ (as made famous by Fountains of Wayne), the nostalgic ‘High School Never Ends‘, the theme from Phineas and Ferb (‘Today is Gonna be a Great Day‘), and the euphemistic ‘My Wena‘ which evokes images of its music video featuring plenty of doting over an adorable dachshund. We also had fire! Bowling For Soup broke out the pyrotechnics and sparkler pots at multiple points in the set along with a great light show that was very much appreciated by tonight’s photographers.
Following a short break that involved lounge chairs being brought on stage due to green room access issues, Bowling For Soup ended the night on the synonymous ‘Girl All The Bad Guys Want’ and ‘1985‘ that sent the already-pumped crowd into joyous overdrive towards a climactic finish. I nearly didn’t attend this show after the previous performance, but the band redeemed themselves having once again proven they are an incredibly tight unit who knows how to freakin’ party. Big personalities are met with even bigger choruses and enthusiasm.
Happy birthday, BFS!
Review by Stephen Donnelly for metalplanetmusic
Photography by Darren Mcveigh