Bowling For Soup – London Camden Underworld

By paul

The Get Happy Tour
Bowling for Soup, Son of Dork, Wheatus & Army of Freshmen
Hammersmith Palais

As the final leg of the Get Happy Tour pulls into London, the Hammersmith Palais faces a bleak future. Not two weeks ago it was announced that this historic musical venue has been condemned for demolition. It’s clearly on the mind of many people here tonight, most notably the bands themselves. Regardless, the party gets underway in full swing a little after seven o’clock.

Army of Freshmen are the first band to hit the stage on tonight’s pop-punk extravaganza. Being almost entirely responsible for this tour’s existence, you’d expect them to be playing higher up the bill, or at least have a slightly longer set, but these six guys from Ventura California still manage to work the crowd up into a complete frenzy throughout their limited time on stage. Lifting tracks ‘10,000 Years’ and ‘Juliet’ from their newly released LP ‘Under the Radar’, their eclectic mix of delicious harmonies, 80’s synth sounds and a frontman who doesn’t quite rap, yet doesn’t quite sing go down an absolute treat. Quickly building a rapport with the crowd, Chris Jay has firmly laid for the ground work for domination when they return to our shores in May.

Wheatus have been away for a while, and tonight their return is marked by an ear-splitting roar, as the closing chorus of ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ is played to tease the crowd. Despite his ill-health, Brendan B. Brown puts every inch of his being into the performance, accompanied by his unorthodox set-up of musicians. Songs pre and post-Sony are sung by almost every being in the room, with ‘Truffles’ and ‘Lemonade’ being the most memorable of the set, and you can’t help but want just a few more songs once Wheatus leave the stage.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect before Son of Dork hit centre stage. Featuring ex-Busted member James Bourne, and completed by a line-up of auditioned posterboys, I expect the answer would most likely be ‘not much’. In all honesty though, they weren’t half bad at all. Yes, their songs are forgettable, and the band are just as choreographed as Mr. Bourne’s previous musical outings, but in terms of playing a solid set, and giving the crowd exactly what they want, they fulfil the criteria.

So that just leaves us with Bowling For Soup. Having missed the introduction to their set, due to being in an interview with Brendan B. Brown, was a frustrating situation, but what I did manage to see was massive amounts of fun. These guys don’t just play their songs, they have fun with them, they have fun with the crowd and they have fun with each other, which is a really entertaining character trait to see in a band. Stopping between ‘1985’ ‘Punk Rock 101’ for a ‘Bowling For Soup Musical Photo Opportunity’ was just a little bit of genius thrown into the set that was fully appreciated by this hyped-up audience.

You can slate the pop-punk scene until the sun stops shining, but for a night of music lacking in pretence put on by a bunch of bands who are truly doing what they do for the right reasons, there’s nowhere else I’d rather have been on this Sunday night. Make no mistake about it, not a single person left this venue without a smile beaming from ear to ear. Get Happy: Mission Accomplished.

Andy R