The ultimate pop-punk party – Bowling For Soup, Simple Plan + Not Ur Girlfrenz at O2 Academy Brixton

Roses are red, violets are blue, we spent Valentine’s Day with Bowling For Soup. 

As far as parties go, Bowling For Soup pretty much got it nailed. Having invited Canadian pop-punk heavyweights Simple Plan and fierce Texas pop-rock trio Not Ur Girlfrenz, this night kept its promise of being the best way to spend Valentine’s Day.

Screw chocolates and red roses, our kind of Valentine’s Day started off with what is the next generation of pop-infused punk led by Liv, Gigi, and Maren – also known as Not Ur Girlfrenz. The teens from Texas, under the wing of Jaret Reddick, have made huge waves in the alternative scenes since the release of their debut EP New Kids In America. They played Vans Warped Tour, have covered emo legends My Chemical Romance and this weekend played to a sold-out crowd at London’s O2 Academy Brixton.

Never have we ever seen a first support rally a crowd with so much energy on stage. With a zero f*cks given attitude and packed with killer hooks, NUG won over the crowd in no time. We’ve always been huge fans of these three ladies, but after seeing them live we basically just want to be besties with them and have them in the UK all the time.

Covering My Chemical Romance is a brave task to undertake, considering the iconic status of the band, but performing it live in front of a crowd who are all retired emo kids takes balls that most bands that have been around for years don’t have. The best thing? It works – I’m Not Okay (I Promise) is such a legendary track and the girls didn’t try to turn into something it isn’t, they just paid homage to a band they learned to love as much as we did the first time around. Bonding session at its finest.

Speaking of covers, a cover you never knew you needed in your life but definitely do is a rock version of UK girl group gods Spice Girls’ Wannabe. Covers or original songs, NUG proof they’re not kidding around and they’re here to lead a whole new generation to a genre we know and love so much. Carrying the torch for pop-punk, we salute you!

Simple Plan, Simple Plan. My good god, we love Simple Plan. With a greatest hits set, the Canadian five-piece brought the best of the last two decades of Simple Plan to South London. Lots and lots of energy, making us feel like we’re 16 again and just plain old fun are at the heart of their performance.

Starting off with I’d Do Anything and followed by Jump, there wasn’t a soul in the room that wasn’t in a good mood. Tracks like Boom!, What’s New Scooby Doo and Addicted only added to that atmosphere. As the band take us to Summer Paradise the stalls are flooded with giant black beach balls bouncing around like confetti. Now, all we need is some sunshine, please!

But it’s not all party time with Simple Plan, the band also take us back to that teenage angst of not feeling good enough and how they helped us express our feelings and feelings understood when we didn’t know any better. Perfect especially pulls at our heartstrings, with lighters up all around the venue and everyone pouring their hearts out. Long live pop-punk!

As it’s time for Bowling for Soup, the room is well and truly hyped up, ready for the celebration that is about to rush over the audience. One thing is for sure, at a BFS show you never get just music. You also get comedy, on stage proposals, on stage bartenders, photo ops and more.

The intro of a comic strip video and announcement perfectly sums up that Bowling For Soup never take themselves too seriously, and that is exactly what their fans love about them, and why you should too. Whether it’s openly admitting that Chris is high or poking fun at the fact that a 10-feet display of stunning WWE wrestler chick Alexa Bliss is getting more attention than them just makes them so approachable. “I was wondering why no one was looking at us during this song and then I remembered we have a massive hot chick on the screen behind us” Jaret laughs.

During most of the set, right next to Gary on drums, is a set up of a bar where a guy is actually mixing drinks live on stage. How has no one else thought of this? Can we trademark this? Or more importantly, how do we get that job? Because it looks like an awful lot of fun.

Amidst a set that is packed with all the fan favorites and greatest hits, there is a Valentine’s Day on-stage proposal. A “progressive” one at that as well as the girl proposed to her boyfriend. He says yes and the whole thing is wonderful, who wouldn’t want to get engaged at a Bowling for Soup show?

With 1985 and A Really Cool Dance Song, Bowling For Soup finish off a show that is never pretentious but always honest fun. And certainly, an approach that more artists should take a look at – take your art seriously, but never yourself and you’ll have the best time ever. Let your fans have as much fun as you are having on stage, and support new artists such as Not Ur Girlfrenz in an honest and fully encouraging way.

 

We couldn’t have asked for a better Valentine’s Day date than spending it with three of our favorite bands. Let’s do that again soon, yeah?!