Bowling For Soup
@ Leeds Met

It’s Valentines’ night and I’m out for a laugh with a friend, ignoring all that loved up hoo-ha. And the atmosphere in the Met tonight is a good one, thanks largely to a young audience causing less beer fuelled nonsense and smoking a lot less fags. It’s still a mixed crowd, with a smattering of long-time followers. It does make me wonder about the attraction of the band – what is it that appeals to people spread across two decades in age?

“Anyone else here as drunk as I am on this stage?” asks Jaret. They limber up, jogging and stretching in their tracksuits. All eyes are on the huge and smiley Chris as he tears his trousers off with a flourish, revealing shorts. He does a comedy routine behind Jaret, camping it up, rolling his eyes and grabbing himelf and the tone is set for the evening….. Come Back To Texas sets off the pattern of songs that require listening – referencing and name-checking all sorts of people. But tonight I’m mostly there for the bounce and the crack.

“Wheatus is not a teenage dirtbag,” says Jaret, ”he’s a thirty-four year old dirtbag and if he didn’t have pneumonia he’d make out with you all”. Hmmm, lovely…… Chris plays the Fat Uncle Fester pantomime routine and he and Erik have a snog for a laugh. Cracks ensue about the clap, herpes, piercings and I get the connection…. The las band I saw that went to the effort of putting on a SHOW were as fun, maybe grosser; the Bloodhound Gang. It’s the same refusal to just play a song, introduce the next one, play song, thank the audience, play song, say how great it is to be back in (check hand) whatever town. No, they have a set of semi-improvised skits, a load of play acting, a desire to arse about and an awareness that they are entertainers, not artists. T’s a refreshing change and a lot of fun.

They are on after Son Of Dork – an offshoot of Blink 182 and a band my mate nails as being McFly for a demographic two years older. This crowd tolerates and enjoys them for the pop buffoons that they are. They’re very cooperative, the crowd that is, and clap, wave and sing loudly. They chuck an inflateable sheep on stage and the band work up a new little ditty entitled Eric Shags Sheep. Chris spends tiem slagging off the Dry Dock – the pub opposite and the whole mature / immature dichotomy relaxes. They play I’m Gay. I love that song – so funny – “I think rock n roll is very funny when it’s serious”. “Don’t hate us ‘cos we’re happy”.

It’s a terrific act, full of attitude and carrying the songs along. The music is a punked-up pop of the sort Green Day have made an institution of. A great song follows about breaking into an exe’s car and stealing thew back seat as a momento amori. ‘1985’ follows and first support, Army Of Freshmen, swap in on the instruments.

All that remains is the one-two punch of an encore with the Ramones’ I Wanna Be Sedated then the doors open and the crowds file past anxious parents parked by the pavement. What a good-natured, cheeky and life-affirming evening from the Texans it’s okay to like.

Ross McGibbon