Bowling For Soup will have been a mainstay for any skater / alternative teenager in the '90s and '00s, and with their signature pop punk blend of comedy, angst and uplifting lyrics, two and a half decades later, they're still as loved by as many today.
Back in Belfast, their sold out show at the sizable Telegraph Building affirms the Texan band's enduring popularity. What makes this show all the more surprising, is that it comes six years after their 2013 announcement of no more UK tours, and on top of their 2016 ‘How About Another Round’ tour. Thankfully, they show no signs of shutting up shop for good just yet, with this current set of dates billed as the 25th Anniversary Tour.
With lights dimmed, the all too familiar ‘Here Comes Bowling For Soup’ intro began, as Jaret Reddick, Chris Burney, Gary Wiseman and Patent Pending bassist Rob Felicetti arrived to the 1 - 2 punch of ‘The Bitch Song’ and ‘Almost’.
To those unfamiliar with BFS shows, it would be remiss to not mention their fantastic and hilarious rapport, which always turns the event partially into a juvenile comedy night. With many jokes revolving around whether front man Jaret was eaten by an imposter, pink eye and some questionable sources of this ailment, their concerts should definitely come with a strong 15 rating!
With the band suitably slicked up from their signature on-stage bar, they treated fans to more favourites from their extensive back catalogue. With ‘Emily’ and ‘Ohio’, proving incendiary, the obligatory ‘Enhanced Photo Opportunity’ really raised the roof on the historic live venue.
The music clearly did the most of the talking, however with an engaging stage presence, the larger than live posse provided the perfect opportunity for Instagram worthy snaps, roaming the stage and pausing for various poses.
Although the absence of long-term bass player Erik Chandler, who left earlier this year, leaves a hole in the band, it didn’t take long for Jaret and forever good-humored guitarist Chris to begin poking fun at new boy Rob, which provided a great introduction to a rather dysfunctional family. With Rob remaining a member of Patent Pending who regularly tour with BFS, this public ingratiation was likely expected.
Throwing their all into the show, energetic renditions of ‘The Last Rock Show’ and ‘Punk Rock 101’ saw Chris perform guitar pick acrobatics throughout, making performing to a sell-out crowd look easy.
Elsewhere, the band played “our best known song which we didn’t even write”, with their their faithful cover of Fountain of Wayne’s ‘Stacey’s Mom’; a track that has been famously mistaken as being a BFS original.
Continuing with ‘Get Happy’, ‘High School Never Ends’ and the Phineas and Ferb theme ‘Today Is Gonna Be A Great Day’, the momentum slowed with ‘Turbulance’. With phone torches aloft harking back to the days of lighters in the air, Jaret sang this heartfelt number beautifully, before amping things back up for ‘Shut Up And Smile’, and the pun-tastic ‘My Wena’.
Despite being a night of expected nostalgia, the crowd saved some energy for the anticipated encore. However, with chairs brought onto the stage, the band opted for a well-earned chill, while discussing how many fingers, butts and other unusual items have featured during the show. With the last beer finished, it was back to finish the show, with ‘Two Seater’ before the night reached a fever-pitch singalong with ‘1985’.
BFS have faced a difficult few years, however they pulled it all together for a celebratory energetic, heartfelt and giggle-filled set while remaining musically on form. the first 25 years may be done, but from their rapturous singing and stellar musicianship, to their uproarious antics and belly laughs, BFS could certainly have another 25 years ahead.
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Check out our gallery from the show below. All photos by Warren Blair.