Thursday, 14 April 2011

124: Gig Report - Bowling for Soup, Oxford

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Bowling for Soup: An Acoustic Evening with Jaret & Erik
Bowling for Soup (acoustic)
with Erik Chandler, People on Vacation, Linus of Hollywood

13 April 2011
Oxford O2 Academy (The Zodiac, call it by its name)

After seeing BFS's acoustic show twice last April, I had a pretty good idea what to expect this time round. At least I thought I did. Whereas last time, there were separate support acts (I saw We Sunk Atlantis in Oxford, and Bob Schneider in London), this time there were four separate acts, but all from the same family, so to speak. Four acts, four people, all helping each other out throughout the night makes for a very cohesive show and really feels like "an evening with".

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Erik was up first, playing solo acoustic songs from his upcoming Erik Chandler & The Mulberry Street Socialites project. Well, I say solo, he was joined by Linus for a couple of songs at the start. Erik, as you may or may not know, is the bass player/backing vocalist of Bowling for Soup, and the other half of the BFS acoustic shows. Erik's songwriting contributions for the band tend to be more introspective than the collaborative works, and this follows suit in his solo work. It's very mellow and very heartfelt, and suits Erik down to the ground. It was a short set of around six or seven songs (as were each of the first three acts), followed by a 10 minute break before the next band.

I'll take this moment to say how much I like the concept of a 10 minute break between bands. Literally 10 minutes. The thing I dislike most about live shows is the standing around while seemingly nothing happens on-stage (with my limited experience in the live music industry, I know there are things to be done, but there's not half and hour's worth. That's what the sound-check is for).

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So, next up was People on Vacation, the side project of BFS's Jaret Reddick with Smile Smile's Ryan Hamilton. When you put it back to back with Erik's project, it's at the other end of the spectrum completely. The lyrics still dip towards dark sarcasm occasionally, but musically it's more pop oriented and very upbeat. Ryan and Jaret's upbeat personalities work well together as a counterpoint to Erik's set, and I'm looking forward to hearing the fully produced People on Vacation. Linus helped out on electric piano towards the end of the set.

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Next up was Linus Dotson (aka Linus of Hollywood), who's been a collaborator with BFS for some time now. He did a few solo songs, then Jaret joined him on stage for a couple, including a modified version of the song Claire Danes Poster (which was very funny, but also falls into my "down points" by virtue of the subject - see below). I really like Linus' material, there's some great songwriting there, although the acoustic setting didn't seem to do it justice some of the time. Highlight? Dotson's version of Rebecca Black's "Friday, Friday, sucking dicks on Friday...". I seriously want to see BFS do a full-band version of this, but I fear that by October when they tour the UK again, the meme will be dead.

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And finally, Jaret and Erik from Bowling for Soup, with a surprisingly chilled-out set. As I hinted at above, because both guys had already been on stage, it felt like a continuation of what we'd seen, not a 'new act'. And rather than playing BFS songs on acoustic guitars, a lot of the material feels like it's been properly converted to 'an acoustic version' this time around. Numbers like Emily and The Bitch Song have been slowed down and added to in terms of musical detail. There was no rendition of Guard My Heart, surprisingly, and I didn't think we were going to get the perennial Belgium until it came in at the end of the (beautifully lengthy) set. Other than that, all the hits were present-and-correct, with Linus joining them on electric piano again towards the end.

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Also worth mentioning: some great interaction when BFS selected a couple of young ladies to help out with No Hablo Inglés. Sarah to hold Jaret's kazoo (not a euphemism), and a slightly-scared-looking Rosa on tambourine. I wonder if Jaret ever thinks about The Tambourine of Death and the terrible work it's still carrying out to this day (I knocked it the other week looking for some comics. Two days later? Elizabeth Taylor).

By then the crowd was livened up, but on the lead-up to this point, they seemed fairly quiet (but good-natured nonetheless) for a BFS show, which was noted a couple of times by the guys, but I can't help thinking that they were surprised by the relaxed nature of the evening (as I was), and stunned into a chilled-state.

All in all? Excellent. As usual.
But you knew that already. I'm not going to give a bad review to a BFS gig any more than I'm going to put down a Star Wars movie, y'know? What can I tell ya? Fanboy.


The only down-points of the night:
• I'd been told the curfew was around 10pm (usual for this venue). The doors opened about half an hour late, and there were very short gaps between sets as I've said, but the show still went on until 11. I'm not moaning about just under 4 solid hours of entertainment, it's just a bit awkward when you've arranged a lift, that's all.
• Linus and Jaret dedicated a song to James Corden, the fat unpleasant dickhead (wickedly funny song, but the thought of laughing because of James Corden fills me with comedy-guilt).
• £4.05 for a pint of Guinness? This isn't fucking London, O2. You already rip the arse out of me over my phone tariff, you robbing bastards, now you're trying to fuck me over at the bar as well? Bunch of arse.

^^ None of these points reflect on the bands, obviously.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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