*** RE-UPLOAD ***
Lineup: Bowling For Soup & The Dolly Rots & Lacey & MC Lars
Venue: O2 Institute Birmingham
After the shenanigans that left such a sour taste in my mouth earlier in the week, it must come as a bit of a surprise that I chose to see yet another pop punk band straight after. So after embracing the disappointment of the modern pop punk contingent (Neck Deep and State Champs), how would the old guard match up in comparison?
In the torrential rain we waited to have our socks rocked off by some classic anthems from our childhood; with each passing moment our hype declined however since the sheer drenching of every piece of clothing left the wait unbearably uncomfortable. The need for a pint of Carlsberg grew stronger and stronger by the minute meaning by the time we got in, the cravings for music had been somewhat overlooked.
MC Lars was up on the stage first acting as almost a hype man directly addressing the audience and rapping a couple tunes along the way. This didn’t particularly work for me at all because it came across hideously cheesy and halted the momentum before it even got started. The clarity of his lyrics was almost non existent and it really felt awkward in the crowd; the atmosphere was ridiculously dead. However, since coming in a touch late due to the queue, we did miss a fair bit of his set so it would be wrong of me to sum his entire act up in 5 minutes of performance.
Lacey came up next and it was a real mixed bag. I thought their stage presence was pretty good for an opening act, I thought they had particular moments where they showed a huge amount of character and potential, however, their levels were woefully out of balance. The bass tone was disgustingly muddy and far too loud allowing for the guitars to be completely swallowed up in a mesh of feedback induced sub sound. Every now and then the vocals as well would be practically un-decipherable making the music as a whole sound like it was playing through a donkeys rear. The drummer unfortunately made a few noticeable mistakes (which is understandable because the sequences were quite adventurous) which really kept taking me back out of the group as soon as I began to get into it. A shame really because there were glimpses of solid song writing throughout.
MC Lars hit the stage and helped pass the time between the intermission… Which would be great if he could rap a couple tracks that sounded more than a fruity loop demo loop.
The Dolly Rots were next and what the f*** happened here. Up there with Creeper for being one of the worst support acts I’ve ever seen, this group was almost embarrassingly bad. The people I was around also shared this view getting increasingly aggravated with each extension of their set. Like a knock-off Girlschool (yeah that bad…) they completed dropped any momentum that was being gathered with Lacey and left the audience gritting their teeth in audio induced pain. The vocals were terrible and screechy, the guitar sounded like it was rolling through a garbage truck and the drums were literally the only aspect holding them together. A lame attempt at girl punk and one of the most dreadful acts I’ve ever seen on stage.
Guess who’s back on stage? Everyone’s least favourite MC! As you can see I’ve got increasingly blunt about MC Lars as during the night the crowd were getting increasingly irritated with his presence; he outstayed his welcome on stage by a couple hours in summary.
Finally the stage was set, the bar set up-WAIT BAR? Yes you heard me right, the entire stage took the form of your local pub and in all honesty it looked bloody great, lovely little touch that made sense further down the set. As everyone expected, a huge roar came into placement as soon as they hit the stage looking casual as ever. A certain degree of composure was immediately evident with these guys looking absolute at home and natural on stage, it made a nice change to see an act so comfortable in their own skin.
With that being said, what was to happen next? Well perhaps one of the best and well ironed sets I’ve ever seen! With hilarious interludes of comical banter poking fun at us Englishmen, the state of pop punk and what it’s like to be in a band, it was like witnessing your favourite comedians performing your childhood favourite songs. Their performance of the songs were red hot too hitting each one with ease, Jaret’s voice in particular has only gotten better with age. The stand out of the evening however was the pop punk medley they bashed out. Combining the best known of Fountains of Wayne, Blink 182, Green Day, Jimmy Eat World and many others was a spot of genius on their point. Bowling For Soup are hardly known for their complexity of song-writing, but their excellent stage presence left me in awe throughout their performance. Pick tricks, bouncy jigs and almost slapstick humour was evident throughout and it felt like you got a two in one carnival and gig act. Even their treatment/strip tease to a woman on her hen-do, kept the audience in stitches; I don’t think I’ve ever come out of a gig with a bigger smile than I did that Saturday evening. Even the pyrotechnics were brilliant with them spurting through caskets of ale; a visual spectacle considering it was being done within an O2 Institute academy. I could go on for pages and pages praising this set but you already get the idea, I implore you to all get their tickets next time they are in town because by God you will not be disappointed.
Yet again I’ll judge the set band by band to give you the most accurate outlook on what the overall experience was.
Lacey: 4/10 – A growing group with a potentially popular but plagued with terrible levelling and awful balancing.
The Dolly Rots: 2/10 – Was tempted to go and give the big fat one but at least they kept in time… Sometimes?
Bowling For Soup: 9/10 – Probably the perfect set for a band reunion tour, one of the best acts you’ll ever see live; a real experience for a group who I initially overlooked.