On a warm evening in the Short North district of Columbus, a long line of people snaked its way north from the front door of Skully’s Music Diner, winding through the adjacent parking lot. The myriad fans ran the gamut from teenagers to middle-age folk, all there for one purpose. They came for the soup and stayed for the music…
As you’ve guessed by now, Bowling For Soup was in town to play a show on an off-day from the final Warped Tour.
Local pop-punkers NightBeast (Dayton, OH) opened the show, with Los Angeles-based rapper Kosha Dillz following them, appropriately warming the crowd up, as well as raising the temperature within the venue.
In the interest of full-disclosure, although I have been enjoying their music for twenty years, this was the first time that I was able to see them perform live. Little did I know that their humor would transport me right back to my early 20’s.
A huge roar engulfed the space as Jaret Reddick (vocals/guitar), Gary Wiseman (drums/vocals), Rob Felicetti (bass/vocals – filling in for Erik Chandler on the summer tour) and Chris Burney (guitar/vocals) made their way to the stage.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are called Bowling For Soup and we are the greatest band that ever lived,” announced Reddick as the band launched into The Bitch Song. The midtempo rocker set the tone for the evening, with their chemistry showing through with a tight sound.
They transitioned seamlessly into the uptempo romp of Almost. Midway through the number, and at numerous times throughout their set, the music came to a halt as they began telling jokes and ribbing on both themselves and the audience. This went on for almost five minutes before they jumped back into finishing the song.
Of course, more jokes were in the offing before they began the next tune, Ohio (Come Back to Texas), with the crowd singing along loudly during the chorus, their arms waving in-time with the beat. Upon its conclusion, Reddick did a shot of fireball whisky, lamenting the fact that it was rather warm.
Reddick announced the next number by saying, “This song goes out to anyone who’s had a broken heart,” as they launched into the midtempo pace of Since We Broke Up. His vocals carried an almost rap-like delivery, with a bit of anger about breaking up showing through.
The slower pace of Life After Lisa was next, the mellifluous harmonies causing the sold-out crowd to sway back-and-forth with the melody. This was only the second song that they managed to play in its entirety without stopping to crack jokes since the beginning of the set.
With the audience singing along from the opening notes, the band’s cover of Fountain of Wayne’s Stacy’s Mom washed over the assembled masses. Long mistaken as a BFS number, Reddick reminded the fans afterward, “That is not our song.” This was met with hearty laughter.
The slower tempo of Belgium wafted through the venue next. Midway through the tune, Reddick implored the crowd to “Give it up for the Kosha Dillz’ Bowling For Soup freestyle!” As the band kept the beat-filled undercurrent moving along, Kosha began freestyle rapping about the 614 and Columbus, with a shout out to the Ohio State University and the Columbus Blue Jackets, before the band rolled right back into the number.
With the band obviously having fun, Reddick said “Let’s sing a song together,” as they went into the uptempo High School Never Ends, much to the delight of the dancing, swaying bodies. At the midpoint of the song, instead of telling jokes, Reddick pulled a kid named Andrew from the crowd to play a chorus of the tune on drums, whipping off a quick drum solo at the end. The BFS frontman told him to “keep the sticks” as he jumped down off the stage.
The jokes continued before they fired up the next tune, My Wena, with the crowd singing along merrily. After a few more wisecracks, they brought emotion to the forefront with a wonderful rendition of Turbulence. With the crowd holding cell phones and lighters aloft, Reddick introspectively sang “And we’re all just passengers tonight…”
They couldn’t resist cracking a few more jokes before the short, fast-paced jam of The Last Rock Show was thrust upon the bouncing fans. From there, they rolled right into a faster-than-usual rendition of Punk Rock 101. Reminiscent of the Ramones, the energy took the temperature within the room to new heights.
As the band took a short, thirty-second (or so) break after Punk Rock 101, the strains of Sarah McLachlan’s Angel wafted over the crowd. It’s still unclear whether this was an inside joke among the band members, or the sound engineer was playing a joke on them.
Be that as it may, Reddick announced to the crowd “We’re going to leave you tonight with the best song ever…” Whereupon, the uptempo beat of Girl All the Bad Guys Want assaulted the audience. With the crowd singing loudly, the lighthearted mood became even more fun-filled, with the band flashing smiles all around.
At this point, eschewing typical rock acts that leave the stage after saying goodnight, the band’s crew brought chairs on stage and the band took a quick break in front of everyone. It was refreshing to see a band not “play the game” of walking off stage, only to walk back on minutes later.
After quenching their thirst, Reddick said with a wry smile “I hope you like your Two-Seater,” as they launched into the midtempo number, tinged with the slight taste of bitterness. For those paying attention, one could hear the melancholy emotions wrapped in the humor of the lyrics.
They wrapped-up the evening with their cover of SR-71’s 1985, eliciting a roar from the masses that were frenetic with their energetic sing-along, their volume almost drowning out the band at points.
“Columbus, Ohio, thank you for being our best day off… ever!” said Reddick, as the band waved to the crowd and left the stage.
As the crowd quickly filed out to get some fresh air, I stood out of the way near the merch tables, contemplating what I had just witnessed.
The first thought was that I came for a rock concert and received the added-bonus of a comedy show as icing on the cake. I can easily imagine sitting around a backyard with a beer in my hand with the guys in Bowling For Soup.
While many of their songs are full of juvenile humor, there are some wonderful songs that prove they know how to approach adult subject matter in a way that is easily digestible.
The standout song of the evening, in this writer’s humble opinion, was the emotionally-charged Turbulence. It was joyful and sad, all at the same time, evoking memories that are sometimes painful, but make up who each one of us is.
BFS are simply a fun band to listen to and be around.
Credit all images: Samantha Toale/MIMC
- The Bitch Song
- Ohio (Come Back to Texas)
- Since We Broke Up
- Life After Lisa
- Stacy’s Mom (Fountains of Wayne cover)
- Belgium (with a freestyle rap from Kosha Dillz)
- High School Never Ends
- My Wena
- The Last Rock Show
- Punk Rock 101
- Girl All The Bad Guys Want
- 1985 (SR-71 cover)
Bowling For Soup – Turbulence