And tonight I was joined by my 8 year old son Logan! Wait, what? Logan???? Yup, this was Logan’s first “big” gig, after a small sprinkling of local things, and hooo boy, did it turn out to be one to remember – forever!
Bowling For Soup, Texas’ finest proponents of scatological and surprisingly harmonic beefy pop-punk and a “live” mainstay since our first sighting at Reading Festival 2000, had actually retired from UK touring since their 2013 jaunt (which we missed), but had announced another “Howaboutanotherround” tour for Feb 2016. This had coincided with Rach playing some of their stuff to the kids in the car, to a very positive and singalong reception, albeit ignoring or bleeping the “bad words”! Thus we gave some thought to taking Logan (at 8, old enough for O2 venues) along, only to find the Bristol show sold out, and the Southampton show coinciding with Rach’s 40th birthday girly trip to Iceland (yes, the country…!). However, Grandma kindly stepped in with an over-nighter offer for Kasey, and it was all systems go!
We dropped Kasey off at Grandmas and hit a sodden M4/ A34 beat route at 5.30, finding nearby street parking and joining the smallest of the 3 snaking GA queues to get in the rapidly-filling venue just after 7. Met up with Rich near the front, stage right, and Logan joined Rich’s daughter Jess on the barriers right down the front. MC Lars kicked things off pronto with some rabble-rousing compere work and a couple of quickfire rap numbers. Not my cup of tea, but Logan liked it, enough to stop and chat with MC Lars afterwards, at the merch stand on the way back from a quick loo trip. Got a quick pic with our erstwhile compere, and I explained to him that tonight was Logan’s first “big” gig, which elicited an offer of a free CD from the man. Chap!
Thus buoyed, we caught most of Nottingham’s Lacey, who plied some clean sounding but initially inauspicious shouty emo/ pop punk, but then startled with a fine Jimmy Eat World-alike slow burn tearjerker “Contender”. Their humble attitude impressed, as did a hooky final number, their new single “Shadow”. Nice! MC Lars then returned for a couple of literary Edgar Allen Poe-influenced (!) rap numbers, before 2-girl, one bloke trio The Dollyrots burst on with some initially thin sounding but improving punky stuff. An early cover of “Brand New Key” (“about love, not farming equipment,” according to gregarious blonde vocalist Kelly) was silly fun, and subsequent numbers added some Pixies-ish sleazy guitar chuntering. Then we had MC Lars back again, for a final rap based on Iggy’s classic “The Passenger”.
This bumped us right up to 9.30; the lights plunged and da Soup took the stage to their own nursery-rhyme silly backing track. “We’re fucking back, motherfuckers!” announced a surprisingly corpulent vocalist Jaret, and straightaway I thought there was no point even trying to censor this evening for Logan…! Ahhh, fuck it! So a boisterous “Bitch Song” and “Emily” kicked things off, before Jaret paused to compliment Southampton, “scene of the first ever Bowling For Soup parking lot fist fight!” He went on to state the bleedin’ obvious, bless him, commenting, “some of you may have noticed I’ve got really fat during the break,” remarking that he’d probably stolen Big Chris’ “fat love” in the process, but maintaining that this still made him a medium size in America! Then “Ohio”…
Logan had picked up an “Ohio” t-shirt the previous week to wear to the gig, celebrating one of his favourite BFS numbers, and as soon as the song moved into raucous shit-kicking gear, he rocked along, lifting his shirt over his head to show the band the logo. Inevitably, the observant Jaret noticed him, then incredibly he broke off from the song before the middle 8 to announce, “there’s this little kid with an “Ohio” shirt down the front… bring me that child, hand me that child!” So a bouncer lifted Logan out, and up he went, joining the band onstage! Erik remarked, “it’s pretty badass to be named after Wolverine!”, Jaret got him to get the crowd to wave their hands, wave at Big Chris etc. and Logan even sang a line when the band got “Ohio” going again; “there’s a seat for you at the rodeo and I’ve got every slow dance saved…!”. Ultimately, the whole audience, some 2,000 (!) in tonight, seemed to be chanting, “Logan! Logan! Logan!” Utterly amazing!
Well, that was it; they totally had me after that, could pretty much do no wrong in the eyes of this incredibly proud and grateful dad. A frantic “Punk Rock 101” was stopped half-way through for tonight’s first “digitally enhanced” trip to the “pub”, a mock-up bar at the corner of the stage. Jaret remarked to the guy holding his girlfriend aloft on his shoulders, “your neck’s gonna smell like a vagina!”, and before an acoustic interlude of a surprisingly affecting “Passengers” and a touching “Friends Of Mine”, Chris introduced Jaret as, “acoustic Jaret” before announcing that acoustic Jaret ate electric Jaret! The effervescent vocalist again stated that BFS were, “the band you can wave to,” bitching about Rammstein not waving back when he saw them (!).
A riotously singalong “1985” saw an acapella intro leading to some fiery pyrotechnics, before a medley of pop-punk classics (including clips from “All The Small Things”, “Basketcase” and an excellent snatch of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle”), “to prove that pop punk isn’t dead!” To underline this point further, a delicious cover of “Stacy’s Mom” followed, before “Almost” needed 2 goes to get started, Jaret mistakenly playing the riff to “1985” instead, then asking the line-up of assembled roadies and guests at “the bar” to give him a kick in the ass, before getting it right next time! Encore “Shut Up And Smile” was an all-inclusive love-fest, channelling the celebratory mood of the night, then the finale of “the best song ever”, a rambunctious “Girl All The Bad Guys Want” ended a thrilling and entertaining set of irresistibly harmonic and singalong pop punk. Which on tonight’s evidence is quite far from dead!
On the way out, Logan got lots of attention too; fist bumps from the guys, and hugs from the girls (!), and even free stuff from the merch stand! An equally sodden drive home saw us get home at a red-eyed 12.30 am, probably the latest Logan has ever stayed up. But hey what a way to kick-off his “big” gigging days. All I can say as a very proud dad is; thank you, Bowling For Soup, Thank You!