Even though I have now been to my fair share of concerts since some semblance of normality has resumed, it still feels almost like forbidden fruit getting up close and personal with several hundred punk rock headbangers to dance the night away. On tonight’s menu was a feast consisting of The Dollyrots, Lit and the main entrée, Bowling for Soup and what a show it turned out to be ending their Crowd Surf the UK tour!

First to take to the stage was The Dollyrots, wife and husband Kelly Ogden and Luis Cabezas rocked their opening set. Honestly, I am not too familiar with the band, but they certainly set the scene for what was to come. They even brought their kids on stage to play their final tune adding an element of family unity that is quite alien to a rock n’ roll show.

During the interval between bands, DJ Matt Stocks entertained the crowd pumping out hit after hit of pop-punk goodness whilst providing a countdown to when Lit was to take to the stage. Speaking of which, it was an absolute delight to finally see a band I idealized back in the day in the flesh! Even though I am a fan of Bowling for Soup, I have to say, seeing Lit live was the highlight of the night. Their set opened with the fan favourite “Four” quickly followed by the equally popular “Zip-Lock.” During their set, A. Jay Popoff and crew awarded fans with not 1 but 2 new tracks from their upcoming new record, Tastes Like Gold. Both “Mouth Shut” and “Kicked off the Plane” were warmly received judging by the roaring fandom on the ground. This, mixed with fan-pleasing hits including “Miserable” and “Over My Head” was a spectacle to behold and closing with “My Own Worst Enemy” almost brought Brixton Academy to its knees!

Of course, the main event was still going to be a masterclass in how to deliver a true pop-punk rock show and as expected, Bowling for Soup did not disappoint! Upon taking to the stage frontman Jaret Reddick addressed the elephant in the room, the absence of long-term drummer Gary Wiseman. Wiseman had sadly faced some ill health shortly before their show in Swansea, Wales but Bowling for Soup opted for the age-old tradition of “the show must go on” and continued with the tour. Reddick updated fans on the state of Wiseman’s condition before delivering an acoustic rendition of “Turbulence” in dedication to their down but not out comrade. It was an emotional start to the set for both fans and the band. Of course, this is a punk rock show and Wiseman would have wanted it to be one hell of a party seeing the Crowd Surfing the UK tour come to an end.

Following the band’s ritual of a mighty swig of Jack Daniels (a moment the band usually does in private) Reddick and crew put the peddle to the metal and hit the final party with a bang blasting into “My Hometown” followed by a new fan favourite from the just-released record, Pop Drunk Snot Bread, “I Wanna Be Brad Pit” (honestly, who doesn’t?) then “Today is Gonna be a Great Day” all intercut with plenty of banter and interaction with the audience in a way only a pop-punk band can do.

By this point, the atmosphere was at an all-time high and the stage resembled more a VIP backstage bar than a performance area. All the other bands, friends and family were all chilling and partying to the left of the drum kit at a makeshift bar with a guy dressed as an old English knight mixing drinks. Even Reddick commented at one stage of the show that they got the costume from Amazon.

During another new track, “Alexia Bliss,” the band abruptly stopped noting that it appeared someone had fallen. The back and forth with that area of the audience was somewhat chaotic as it went from, a phone had been dropped to a lost shoe. Still, Bowling for Soup deserves credit nod respect for its awareness of potential risks taking place on the ground. Once sorted though, the dial got turned straight back to 11 as the song came to its conclusion. By this point, a rather unorthodox interval took place in the form of a comedy jam judged by the audience with the winner declared to be Kelly Ogden with her cheesy as f**k joke “what’s a pirate’s favourite word?” To which a chant of Rrrrrrrrr came from the crowd to which Ogden declared, “you’d think that buy the sea is their first love.”

Following this interval allowing the band to grad a drink or 2 from their makeshift cocktail bar, the second half of the show kicked in with the ever-popular “The Bitch Song,” followed by a feast of the group’s most popular hits including “Punk Rock 101,” “1985” finally closing with the timeless “Girl all the Bad Guys Want.” The whole show utilized a revolving door approach to drumming with Reddick, the band’s tour manager, Steve Homer, Lit’s drummer, Taylor Carroll along with several others taking turns to hit the skins.

Honestly, this was a tremendous show with subtleties that made it made it stand out from your standard pop-punk gig. Sadly, my only gripe would be the sound production was not quite up to scratch, but this can be forgiven given the dance-filled, comedy-filled, drink-fulled end to one hell of an emotional tour.

Bowling For Soup (w/ Lit, The Dollyrots) @ Spa Theatre (Scarborough, UK) on April 15, 2022

The Dollyrots Setlist:

My Best Friend’s Hot
Twist me to the Lest
I Know How to Party
City of Angels
Jackie Chan
Brand New Key
Because I’m Awesome

Lit Setlist:

Something to Someone
Do it Again
Mouth Shut
Over My Head
Kicked of the Plane
My Own Worst Enemy

Bowling for Soup Setlist:

My Hometown
High School Never Ends
I Wanna be Brad Pitt
Today is Gonna be a Great Day
Alexa Bliss
Comedy Jam
The Bitch Song
Two Seater
The Last Rock Show
Punk Rock 101
Ohio (Come Back to Texas)
Girl All the Bad Guys Want