Punk News Reviews

Live review: Bowling for Soup / Less Than Jake / Vandoliers – London 2024

Texas and Florida's Punk / Ska-Punk favourites united to give us an unforgettable show!

The spectacular ‘You Asked For It‘ tour finished up in West London on Saturday 24th February with a multitude of bangs! Bowling for Soup and Less than Jake had been intending to do a joint UK tour for decades, and this sold out show at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith was well worth waiting for. With DJ Matt Stocks spinning a great selection of tunes before and between bands, the entertainment didn’t stop all evening!

Bowling for Soup brought their fellow Texans Vandoliers – a 7 piece Country Punk Rock band with added trumpet and keyboards – along as their support. They were immensely thankful for being added to the tour, as the last time they played in London, they reckoned it was to fewer than 20 people..

Vandoliers
Vandoliers - London, Feb 2024 - photo © Ruth Rae

Wild guitars and an even wilder fiddle set the pace for catchy songs including ‘Bless Your Drunken Heart‘, about singer / lead guitarist Joshua Fleming “being a drunken asshole”, and their heaviest tune ‘Troublemaker‘. Antics abounded on stage, with half the band whipping their shirts off and the keys / trumpet player Cory Graves having fun with a drum stick and assorted members of the band!

Finishing with a rousing cover of The Proclaimers‘ ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)‘ which had the audience joining in, these guys are great fun and full of energy – go check ’em out!

Now I admit that I’m a big fan of Less Than Jake, and have been since the mid 90s, so I’m always going to love seeing them live..

Less Than Jake
Less Than Jake - London, Feb 2024 - photo © Ruth Rae

Opening with the distinctive bass riff of ‘Last One Out Of Liberty City‘, the band and crowd were bouncing right away, as the ever youthful Roger Lima on bass and Chris DeMakes on guitar hurtled around the stage in between trading lead vocals. The equally agile Buddy Schaub rarely stood still, encouraging the audience and playing his trombone with equal enthusiasm! More favourites from their hit albums ‘Losing Streak‘ ‘Hello Rockview‘ and ‘Anthem‘ were played energetically and enjoyed immensely.

There were a couple of crowd surfers, but with a very mixed age range in attendance, it wasn’t as rowdy as the last time Less Than Jake played in London. Roger took the piss out of Chris’ admittedly bad haircut, both frontmen engaged constantly with the crowd, and the toilet paper guns came out a couple of times as did the inflatable tube men! Set closer ‘Gainesville Rock City‘  had an appreciative crowd yelling for more, while guitar picks were thrown out like sweeties as consolation.

Stage reset with beer kegs, confetti launchers and a bar – yes, a manned bar, behind which crew, guests and Vandoliers gathered, the big screen counted down to Bowling for Soup’s intro video and song, before the quartet made their entrance. Jaret Reddick on lead vocals / guitar, Chris Burney on lead guitar, Gary Wiseman on drums and ‘new boy’ Rob Felicetti on bass, who seemed to be the butt of many of the band’s jokes, were absolutely hilarious – and LOUD!

Bowling for Soup 1
Bowling for Soup - London, Feb 2024 - photo © Ruth Rae

Priding themselves upon being “The band you can wave to”, many waves were exchanged during their set! These guys don’t take life too seriously, have the most excellent set of ripostes for hecklers or those drawing too much attention to themselves in the audience, and a genuinely great set of songs amassed during their 30 year career.

Each song was accompanied by its title plus graphics or a video on the big screen, sometimes incorporating live shots of the band and crowd from the on-stage cameras. Frequent beer and banter breaks were taken, seemingly of equal importance, and Jaret explained that he wanted to form the Punk Rock equavalent of The Beatles but reckons they failed at that! Switching out for some of the Vandoliers during ‘Ohio (Come Back To Texas)‘, it’s clear that Bowling for Soup don’t do shows like any other band..

Confetti cannons covered us in strips of white paper at the start of ‘Punk Rock 101‘, then the band took a break mid-song to pose as a group on several sections of the stage for a photo op, followed up by dad dancing to Rick Astley‘s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up‘, before finishing their song accompanied by 20 foot blasts from the pyrotechnics! Much to fans’ delight, the theme tune to Phineas and FerbToday is Gonna Be a Great Day‘ which was written by Bowling for Soup got played, as did hits ‘High School Never Ends‘ and set closer ‘Girl All The Bad Guys Want‘.

Putting the comedy aside for a moment, Jaret made a heartfelt speech about how he unexpectedly suffered from anxiety and depression for the first time in his 40s, but he got treatment and is now back stronger with the biggest tour of his life. He then played ‘Turbulence‘ which started out with him alone on acoustic guitar, while the audience waved their phone torches in the air (lighters no longer allowed indoors!), before the rest of the band joined in.

Bowling for Soup 2
Bowling for Soup photo opportunity - London, Feb 2024 - photo © Ruth Rae

Other highlights included the Audience Singalong Game, where each band member took turns to start singing their song of choice and the crowd carried it on.. Rob managed to both lose and win the game due to getting muddled by the rules then picking a singalong favourite! The band also gave away a guitar at each show on this tour to one lucky audience member, and tonight’s was won by a stunned lady who joined the band on stage and was invited to watch the remainder from the bar at the side.

The smoke towers, pyrotechnics, confetti etc. added to the performance rather than detracted from it, as these guys are all such larger-than-life characters. Closing with the Bowling for Soup version of SR-71‘s ‘1985’ and a cloudburst of paper ribbons, we walked out of the huge venue feeling pretty euphoric – all three bands had filled it with great music, joy and laughter, the perfect Saturday night out!

Bowling for Soup - London, Feb 2024 - photo © Zak Innes

Main Photo Credit: ZAK INNES

VANDOLIERS:

  1. Rolling Out
  2. Endless Summer
  3. Sixteen Years
  4. Bless Your Drunken Heart
  5. Howlin’
  6. Troublemaker
  7. Every Saturday Night
  8. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) (The Proclaimers cover)


LESS THAN JAKE:

  1. Last One Out of Liberty City
  2. Help Save the Youth of America from Exploding
  3. All My Best Friends Are Metalheads
  4. The High Cost of Low Living
  5. Plastic Cup Politics
  6. Automatic
  7. Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts
  8. History of a Boring Town
  9. Lie to Me
  10. The Science of Selling Yourself Short
  11. Look What Happened
  12. The Rest of My Life
  13. Nervous in the Alley
  14. Gainesville Rock City


BOWLING FOR SOUP:

  1. Emily
  2. My Wena
  3. Out the Window
  4. Ohio (Come Back to Texas)
  5. Life After Lisa
  6. The Last Rock Show
  7. Punk Rock 101
  8. Two-Seater
  9. Today is Gonna be a Great Day (Phineas and Ferb Theme Song)
  10. High School Never Ends
  11. Turbulence
  12. Almost
  13. The Bitch Song
  14. Girl All the Bad Guys Want

Encore:
1985 (SR‐71 cover)

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