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Slam Dunk Festival Diaries: Bowling for Soup


The choice of headliners at this year’s Slam Dunk has been one of the best ever, making choosing which band to see to round off the night an incredibly difficult decision. However, on paper, there appeared to be only one choice- a band with a long history, a hugely influential role in the world of pop punk and an arsenal of kick ass songs set to whip Leeds Arena into a veritable frenzy- the iconic Bowling for Soup.
However, another aspect of the Bowing for Soup live experience is their infamous onstage banter, and unfortunately those of us who are fans of their music as much as their personalities found the ratio between the two to be swinging heavily in favour of the somewhat crude jokes and lacking in actual performance of their songs. The tracks that they did play included the pop punk classic ‘Punk Rock 101’, played at double speed, which did inhibit the singing and reduced it to a confused mumble as fans attempted to keep up with the breakneck speed of the bouncing guitar line, but it did also give way to what frontman Jaret Reddick proudly proclaimed to be ‘the first circle pit ever at a Bowling for Soup show!’. ‘Other  classics that were played, to rapturous reception from the crowd who were packed onto the floor and up into the seats of Leeds Arena, included the huge singles ‘High school Never Ends’, which continues to be the soundtrack to many a teenage high school graduation experience; ‘Girl All the Bad Guys Want’, the infectiously bouncy and completely universal story of the underdog falling for a girl they feel they can never get to see them the way they see her; and of course the ultimate in pop punk anthems that any pizza and pogoing addict will know like the back of their hand, ‘1985’. And that really sums up the atmosphere of the set in a nutshell– a homage back to times gone by in more ways than one.
​Although the band did attempt to bring their set into the new age with their admittedly fun, wonderfully idiosyncratic new single ‘Hey Diane’, and to their credit their new material fitted seamlessly in with their huge hits, and received a better reception from the crowd than I or the band appeared to expect, from the half-joking, half-sincere apologies they made preceding the track, ironically moaning about ‘having to play new songs too!’. Yet ultimately it was the classics that people came for, and credit where it is due, they got them- slightly hurried, nonchalant versions perhaps, but they were there all the same. Every band is a different kind of live experience, and not every band is going to be to everyone’s taste, and personally the adolescent jokes that seemed to have persisted through the years but were probably better left in 2003, and the comedically huge breaks after the bridge of the majority of the songs marred what would otherwise have been a stellar setlist and an all-round incredible show. It might not have been the glorious finale to the day that I was expecting, but nevertheless it was a fun, quirky and utterly ridiculous end to a day which had been a whirlwind of emotions throughout: a good way to wind down after the frantic running between mosh pits and adrenaline inducing interactions with our favourite band members. And above all, it was just a bit of a laugh: which, to be honest, is what the essence of Bowling for Soup is all about- having a good laugh to some classic tunes.
Bowling for Soup’s tenth studio album ‘Drunk Dynasty’, featuring their new track ‘Hey Diane’, is out now via Que-So Records / Brando Records.
Bowling for Soup’s Twitter: @bfsrocks
Bowling for Soup’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bowlingforsoup/?fref=ts
author avatar
Glenn van den Bosch