By Chuck Cox
While the cowboy was busy riding away in front of more than 100,000 fans in Arlington on Saturday night, that little old band from Denton, by way of Wichita Falls, was celebrating a pretty big milestone of its own at House of Blues.
Bowling For Soup had some of its closest friends over for a 20th anniversary show. And even without the slew of No. 1 hits the great George Strait has under his belt, Bowling For Soup has enjoyed longevity several other bands that started in the 1990s have never known.
What’s their secret? Fun. It’s really as simple as that. Bowling For Soup has always been — and always will be — an absolute blast. They are four normal guys who grew up in the 1980s loving music, who just so happen to make incredibly catchy party tunes and rock anthems. The kind of guys you want to hang out and drink a beer or two with.
The band, which is known for its unscripted banter between songs, gave the large crowd exactly what it came for … and then some. The show, which included a seven-minute video of other bands congratulating BFS on 20 years together at the outset, clocked in just tad shy of three hours.
Believe me, I appreciated the effort. But with two opening acts, that meant I was standing for almost six hours. And, hey, I’m old. That’s a long time to stand up.
However, the chance to spend the evening helping BFS celebrate two decades of being together was well worth two sore feet. Plus, the band dipped extensively into its sizable catalog to throw in some rarities, like “Emily,” “Thirteen,” “Cody” and “2113.” The band’s original drummer, Lance Morrill, played on “Cody.”
And the band certainly didn’t skimp on the big songs either, faithfully playing “Almost,” “High School Never Ends,” “(Ohio) Come Back to Texas,” “My Wena,” “Punk Rock 101” and “The Bitch Song.”
The band even made note of the Strait show, doing a couple of lines of “Amarillo By Morning” and “All My Exes Live in Texas.” That was extremely cool.
BFS closed things out with “Belgium,” a cover of Bryan Adams’ “Summer of 69” and “1985.” During the “Belgium” breakdown, lead singer Jaret Reddick did a dead-on impression of reggae singer Shaggy before touching on hair metal classics “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and “I Remember You,” along with rap classics “Jump Around” and “It’s Tricky.” Guitarist Chris Burney got in on the act, too, with some rapping skills.
It was my 13th Bowling For Soup show, including one of its 15th anniversary shows at Dan’s Silverleaf in Denton. I seriously don’t ever get tired of seeing the band, because it is always such a fun night of music.
Regular BFS openers The Dollyrots started the party off with a tight, rocking 35-minute set that included the band’s staples “Brand New Key” and “Because I’m Awesome.” It was a perfect way to start off the show.
Next up was Nerf Herder. This was a band I knew very little about — other than it did the instrumental theme to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show. Named for a line in Star Wars Episode IV: The Empire Strikes Back.
As one might expect, it was pretty geek-tacular. The band was really a lot of fun (there’s that word again) in celebrating its nerdom. Lead singer Parry Gripp said the band “normally plays in front of 10 people” and that the show “was like a year’s worth of concerts.”
Nerf Herder flawlessly played the Buffy theme, along with the awesome “Van Halen,” “5,000 Ways to Die” and “Raining Tacos.” For you stars fans, the latter should be very familiar. It’s played in the American Airlines Center when fans win free tacos.
Another cool touch was Nerf Herder coming back out to play Gripp’s “Here Comes Bowling For Soup” to bring the headliners out on stage. That song’s recording is typically played in the house before BFS comes on stage.
All in all, it was a really fun (albeit long) night. Cheers, BFS. Here’s to another 20 years.