LIVE REVIEW: A very special evening with Bowling For Soup

Texan pop-punks Bowling For Soup headlined O2 Academy Brixton on the last night of their UK tour.

With a stellar array of special guests, as is tradition now with Bowling For Soup, this was one night that won’t soon be forgotten. For one, as with a lot of unforgettable moments, they start of with a shock. Bowling For Soup drummer Gary Wiseman had to drop out of the band’s UK tour, but the band was set to honour their commitment and celebrate their bandmate and friend by playing one the best shows they have probably ever played. It was one of the most ones anyway.

Special guests and married punk rock outfit The Dollyrots kicked things off for the evening with a whirl-wind set of tracks like “My Best Friend”, “Love And Family” and “I Know How To Party”, performing in front of an ever-filling O2 Academy Brixton. Safe to say everyone’s ovaries exploded when Kelly and Luis invited their kids to play on stage with them. Since 2019 the duo have been known to bring their little ones on the road with them, however for this leg of the tour the kids presence was a complete surprise, orchestrated by Luis’ mom who flew both kids to London. What a way to round up a tour!

Second special guest of the night hailed from Orange County and have been around since before Bowling For Soup – feel old yet, because same. Lit played a nine-track set filled with some goodies from the good old times and a bunch of tracks off their upcoming new record Tastes Like Gold, out 17 June 2022 via Round Hill Records (pre-order here). Tastes Like Gold was produced by Carlo Colasacco, YOUTHYEAR & Lit features No Doubt’s Adrian Young, Butch Walker and American Authors – so you just know it will be incredible!

“We’ve never played a show without Gary” Jared says as he takes the stage with his acoustic guitar in a buzzing O2 Academy Brixton. Our hearts sank. But what followed was one of the best shows of the band’s career. We all have a drink for Gary, including the band, who in true tradition once again have a bar on stage with them. We can’t think of anything more rock and roll than that. Also very convenient, let’s be honest. Bowling For Soup share a bottle of whiskey on stage, a pre-show ritual they usually save for backstage.

After a heart-melting acoustic performance of “Turbulence”, Jared is greeted by echoing cheers as he says “Let’s do a f*cking rock show” and the band dive straight into “My Hometown”. And as the band share more drinks on stage, with a side note from Jared that none of the Vodka they’re drinking on this tour is from Russia and served by a guy dressed up as a knight – in celebration of St George’s Day – we all remember it’s been two years and two months since we last saw Bowling For Soup play an incredible show at O2 Academy Brixton (with Simple Plan and Not Ur Girlfrenz, one of the last gigs before lockdown hit). And if it wasn’t enough of a party already, the Phinneas and Ferb theme song, also known as Today Is Gonna Be A Great Day, will certainly get you there. Come on – what a tune!

And when the band stopped half way through Alexa Bliss, an ode to the American professional wrestler, a moment of genuine concern turned into a round of banter and it’s so classically BFS that it’s iconic almost. After making sure that whoever was down was absolutely fine, Jared then tried to figure out what it was he was searching for – his phone, his wedding ring, his booze? We still don’t know.

So how does a punk band cope without a drummer for an entire show you ask? Well, they have a bunch of amazing people around them who are happy to help out. From Dave Pearson (Lacey) and Lit’s Taylor, as well as Jared and Rob – and even their promoter – on the drums, with Kelly from the Dollyrots on guitar, it was a whole family affair. And that’s just one of the things that make Bowling For Soup one of the best band’s in the business. It’s all love, and nothing else.

Well, love and a lot of laughs. And if you thought you only came for a rock show, you were mistaken my friends. In the middle of their set, we all get treated to a comedy jam. Yes you read that right, a comedy jam. With each band member as well as Kelly telling their best jokes, the crowd voted on the winner (Kelly, obviously). So not only did you get a rock show for your ticket, but also a comedy show. 2-for-1 they would say in marketing, value for money. Though the jokes probably wouldn’t hold up on BBC.

Finishing off their set with the classics “1985” and “Girl All The Bad Guys Want”, followed by “Last Christmas” playing on stage in the middle of April it’s everything we could have asked for and more. So when Jared closed the show by saying “We turned a shitty situation into something we’ll never forget” all we can add is: Same, Jared, same 🖤

Bowling For Soup at O2 Academy Brixton – gallery