Home Gigs Gig Review : Bowling For Soup : You Asked For It Tour – The Halls : Wolverhampton

Gig Review : Bowling For Soup : You Asked For It Tour – The Halls : Wolverhampton

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Review & Photography by Manny Manson for MPM

So, another frustrating drive over to Wolverhampton, for a triple header of American mash up of SKA,ALT Country and POP PUNK. Arriving well after the set doors time, its thankfully an easy process in getting into the hall despite the searches and picking up passes at the box office. I forgot who efficient the newly re-vamped Civic Hall crew really are.

First up tonight we have the ‘Vandoliers’ a band I had yet to see live, who bring what I can only describe as an American Hyped energy onto the stage, something that all American bands bring to the UK with a stage ‘show’ that leaves a lot of UK bands well in the shadows. As they proceed to open the night for headlining act Bowling For Soup, and in doing so, instantly captivating the sold-out crowd at The Halls, Wolverhampton With that Yankee Swagger. Hailing from Dallas, Texas, ‘Vandoliers’ seamlessly blend punk rock energy with elements of country, folk, and Americana, creating a sound that’s as unique as it is infectious.

As they kick off their set to the loud cheers of the audience, ‘Vandoliers’ waste no time in showcasing their lively music style with “Rolling Out.” From 2017’s long player, ‘The Native’.

The song’s infectious blend of punk attitude and country twang set the tone for a zany performance that have the crowd on their toes from the get-go. During “Endless Summer,” again from The Native album, keyboard/trumpet player, Cory ‘RoundUp Graves, stole the spotlight, literally, as he whipped off his top while delivering an exhilarating performance, standing behind the keys displaying his tattooed dad bod again demonstrates the bands eagerness to entertain which strangely enhanced the band’s already dynamic stage presence.

“Solving Years” kept the momentum going with its infectious beat and catchy hooks, accompanied by the singer’s acrobatic spins while strumming his acoustic guitar, further engaging the audience in the band’s high-energy performance.

Howlin’,” from the 2022 self-titled album promptly followed with an enthusiastic sing-along from those in the crowd that where familiar with the song, it having been released as a digital single in the January, some 7 months before the album was released, another point in-case showing how ‘Vandoliers’ have the ability to connect with their fans, of which there appeared to be several in tonight, on a more intimate level.

“Troublemaker”, from 2019 and “Every Saturday Night” from 2022, continued the onslaught of high-velocity tracks. Closing their set with a crowd-pleasing rendition of The Proclaimers’ classic “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),”In fact, with what seemed like the vast majority of the 3000 crowd in tonight joining in with this jolly tune from the Scottish Brothers, it meant that the ‘Vandoliers’ left the stage to a deafening chorus of cheers and applause from the partisan crowd. Their dynamic performance and infectious energy setting the stage for the night, a job well done, leaving the audience eagerly anticipating the next act, ‘Less Than Jake’.

What can I say, they only went and brought the bloody house down at The Halls, Wolverhampton, with a performance that was pure exhilaration and smiles. With a rich history spanning over two decades, this American ska punk band proved why they’re still at the top of their game as they delivered a fun-packed set filled with high-energy anthems and infectious melodies.

As the lights dimmed the anticipation sky rocketed. With two video screens flanking the drum riser, the stage was set for an unforgettable 50 minutes. ‘Less Than Jake’ kicked off their set with “Last One Out Of Liberty City” from their 1998 album “Hello Rockview,” instantly igniting the crowd with their trademark ska-infused punk sound surrounded by smoke canons and bright lights matching their unique sound which included the dynamic trombone of ‘ Goldfinger’ Schaub and the Sax of ‘JR Waskewski. Again, this was another band I have so far failed to see live, their dynamic instantly reminded me of an early Bad Manners crossed with Madness but on a hell of a lot of steroids and brought kicking n screaming right up to date. Marvellous, I’m hooked already, one song in.

“Help Save The Youth Of America From Exploding” followed on with its frenetic pace and catchy hooks keeping the energy levels soaring, in-fact they never dropped all set.

The band’s performance was a continued whirlwind of excitement, it seemed each member was feeding off the crowd’s enthusiasm and in doing so helping them to deliver a flawless performance. Frontman, Chris Demakes, asked the crowd how they liked his hair, the sides had been shaved, he retorted it was the worst haircut he’d ever had, f*&k Wolverhampton, never again, much to the crowd’s delight as laughter ensued.

“Metalheads” flattens the crowd with another triumphant example of ‘Less Than Jake’s’ ability to blend infectious ska rhythms with a gritty punk attitude, while “The High Cost Of Low Living” from their 2020 album demonstrates their continued relevance and evolution as a band, tackling subjects that are real world giving them a connection to their fanbase, which has definitely grown tonight. With another standout shout from the band saying they’d played Dudley 20 years ago, they asked if there was anyone in from Dudley, there were of course a fair few hands going up, to which Demakes replied Its Sh1t, he continued about a venue called JD’s saying the even the spiders had left it was that bad. The crowd were in stitches laughing along.

As the crowd continued to dance and sing along to every song, it was obvious that ‘Less Than Jake’s’ music echoed deeply with their dedicated fanbase. Tracks like “Plastic Cup Politics” from 2003’s “Anthem” and “Automatic” from their 1996 album “Losing Streak” help keep the stratospheric momentum going, with the band barely pausing for breath between songs. How had I let this great band slip under the radar. I’m grinning like a Cheshire cat totally engrossed in this sensational band.

It seems that with each track, Less Than Jake transport each and every fan on a journey through their extensive discography, having been formed in 1992, there is plenty, touching on fan favourites like “The Science Of Selling Yourself Short,” “Sugar In Your Gas Tank,” and “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sell-outs.” To name a few of many, and a great set for a newbie like me to be introduced too.

As the set drew to an end, ‘Less Than Jake’ saved one of their most anthemic songs for last, dedicating “Gainesville Rock City” to their hometown. The crowd once again erupted in cheers and applause, acknowledging the band’s undeniable showmanship and it has to be said, fitness levels.

With a breath-taking performance that left myself and the crowd buzzing with excitement, ‘Less Than Jake’ proved once again why they’re one of the most beloved bands in the ska punk genre. As they exited the stage to rapturous applause, it was very clear that they had set the bar high for the rest of the evening, leaving the crowd eagerly anticipating the headlining act, Bowling For Soup.

Who are ‘Bowling for Soup’? Well, they’re an American pop punk band who formed in 1994 in Wichita Falls, Texas. The band’s original line-up consisted of Jaret Reddick (lead vocals, guitar), Chris Burney (guitar, backing vocals), Erik Chandler (bass, backing vocals), and Lance Morrill (drums). Chandler was later replaced by substitute and guest player, Rob Felicetti in 2022 and Morrill replaced by Gary Wiseman earlier, in 1998.

Known for their catchy hooks, humorous lyrics, and energetic performances, Bowling for Soup gained popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s with albums like “Rock on Honourable Ones!!!” (1997) and “Drunk Enough to Dance” (2002), which featured the hit single “Girl All the Bad Guys Want.”

Their breakthrough came with the album “A Hangover You Don’t Deserve” (2004), which included the hit singles “1985” and “Almost.” The band continued to release successful albums, including “The Great Burrito Extortion Case” (2006), “Sorry for Partyin'” (2009), and “Fishin’ for Woos” (2011).

Some of their notable singles include “High School Never Ends,” “Ohio (Come Back to Texas),” and “Punk Rock 101.” The band’s music often reflects themes of adolescence, relationships, and pop culture.

Bowling for Soup have undergone minimal line-up changes over the years, with Reddick, and Burney, remaining constant members. In addition to their studio albums, they have released various compilations and live albums to acclaimed success.

Bowling for Soup are currently :- Jaret Reddick (lead vocals, guitar) – Chris Burney (guitar, backing vocals) – Rob Felicetti (bass, backing vocals) and Gary Wiseman (drums, percussion).

The atmosphere was already electric at The Halls in Wolverhampton as Bowling For Soup took the stage to headline their “You Asked For It UK Tour.” The anticipation built as a huge countdown clock on the back screen ticked away the final moments before the band’s entrance. When the clock struck zero, the crowd erupted into cheers and sing-alongs as the familiar BFS theme played, signalling the beginning of an unforgettable night.

With an easy swagger, the band members casually sauntered onto the stage, soaking in the cheers and applause from the audience. Jaret Reddick, with his Texas state flag painted guitar slung low, raised his hands in appreciation before launching into the opening chords of “Emily.” The crowd’s delight was intense as they danced and sang along to the familiar tune, a classic from the band’s 2002 album “Drunk Enough to Dance.

The energy continued to remain high as Bowling For Soup dove into “My Wena,” a tongue-in-cheek song that had everyone laughing along to its humorous lyrics. “Out the Window” continued the bouncy vibe, showcasing the band’s signature pop-punk sound and prompting even more bouncing from the ever-youthful fans in the crowd.

“Ohio (Come Back to Texas)” from the 2004 album keeps the momentum going, with the ground shaking beneath the feet of the now ecstatic crowd. Revisiting the 2002 album once again, Bowling For Soup deliver “Life After Lisa,” followed by “The Last Rock Show” and “Punk Rock 101.” A fun moment ensued during the latter, as the band paused mid-song to grab beers and pose for the crowd while Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” played over the house PA, much to everyone’s amusement. “Two-Seater” picked up the pace again with its happy foot-tapping, head-bouncing vibe, yet another hit from the 2004 album that has the crowd smiling and singing along. Jaret shared a humorous anecdote about the song’s inspiration, adding to the jovial atmosphere.

No band comes to Wolverhampton and doesn’t mention the Black Sabbath connection, obviously the crowd love it so Rob Felicetti asked if they liked great bands and mentioned Foreigner, and then tried to entertain the crowd with a few Foreigner sound bites. The band’s infectious energy continued with “Today Is Gonna Be a Great Day,” the theme from Disney’s Phineas and Ferb cartoon show, which had the crowd bouncing with renewed vigour.

With a round of “Oh oh oh Oh’s,” Jaret led the band into “High School Never Ends” from the 2006 album “The Great Burrito Extortion Case,” carrying on the school theme that certainly resonated with many in the audience. The energy in the venue continued to reach new heights as fans sang and danced, including those in the balcony’s, in their seats, the wall of happiness emanating from the stage reaching the back of the venue and beyond.

Taking a moment to address mental health, Jaret urged the crowd to reach out to those suffering from anxiety and depression before launching into the poignant “Turbulence” from the 2011 album “Fishing For Woo’s.” The atmosphere was charged as the crowd joined in, their phone lights illuminating the venue in a show of unity as Jaret led this acoustic ballad.

The energy surged back as Bowling For Soup delivered “Almost” from the 2004 album, complete with a guitar giveaway that added an extra layer of excitement. The crowd eagerly participated, singing along and snapping photos as the band rocked out on stage.

“The Bitch Song,” another tour debut from the 2000 album “Let’s Do It For Johnny,” continued with the mayhem with its driving drums and infectious energy. With googly eyes blinking from the back screen, the crowd joined in with delight as they bounced along propelled by Jaret’s elastic facial expressions and the band’s undeniable charisma. As the set drew to a close, Jaret expressed heartfelt gratitude to the crowd for their support over the years saying that the fans are a huge reason why their lives had changed for the better before launching into the anthemic “Girl All the Bad Guys Want.

The crowd sang at the top of their voices, united in a shared moment of nostalgia and joy, bringing the night to a magnificent climax. We know what happens now, the band walk off and then return for a final song, and amidst the cheering and applause the band return acknowledging the fans for their support.

The encore, Bowling For Soup treated the crowd to a cover of SR-71’s “1985,” another iconic tune and in doing so finished the night off in spectacular fashion, sending everyone home on a high note and cementing the night as one to remember. In a world filled with uncertainty, Bowling For Soup provided a welcome escape for the crowd at The Halls in Wolverhampton.

For a few hours, fans were transported back to their youth, immersed in the infectious energy and nostalgia of the band’s music. It was a night of pure escapism and joy, reminding everyone of the power of live music to uplift spirits and create lasting memories. Another stunning night in Wolverhampton.

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