In what seems like a perfect match to me, Bowling for Soup and Less Than Jake have been touring the US this summer as the Back for the Attack Tour and I was excited to catch the Anaheim show.
I got myself to The House of Blues a little late it seems, as the opening band, Doll Skin, was just finishing up their set. They closed with a song called “Control Freak” and from what I heard, they were really good. I’ll be sure to catch their whole set the next opportunity I get.
Up next was the Oklahoma band Cliffdiver, who call their sound “elevator-emo-pop.” Their seven band members onstage include two vocalists, Joey Duffy and Briana Wright, who share lead vocal duties on some great songs. Wright is the newest member of the group, joining in 2020, and she brings a lot of excitement to the stage as she flips her blonde dreads around.
Cliffdiver was a lot of fun to watch and several of their songs have great original names, “Are You Still Seeing Graig, the Orthodontist?” and “Frankie Muniz Don’t Smoke No Mids.”
They also seem to have a thing with Ikea with songs like “Lost in Ikea” and “Ikea Strikes Back.” Pick up their first full-length album “Exercise your Demons” and enjoy their entertaining tunes.
Celebrating 30 years as a band, Less Than Jake hit the stage to the “Star Wars Imperial March,” receiving a very enthusiastic reception. Without a word they bust into the song “Automatic” with its classic line, “I think I know it all.” Less Than Jake is one of those bands that I just can’t help but smile the entire time that they are playing. They’re funny and engaging and have a great catalog of songs.
Singer/guitarist Chris Demakes reminded the audience that, “Believe it or not we were super popular in the ’90s” and the next song they played was off their biggest album, 1998’s “Hello Rockview.” With the words, “Last one out of Liberty City burn it to the ground,” a sense of immediate excitement as rolls of toilet paper were shot out into the crowd with leaf blowers. A large circle pit instantly formed as the crowd responded in kind. I got chills as this song has always been a big favorite of mine.
Demakes asked the crowd, “Ever heard of an Orange County band called Reel Big Fish?” They then welcomed Johnny Christmas of Reel Big Fish onstage to play trumpet for “The Science of Selling Yourself Short,” which was met with large applause from the delighted audience. I’ve always felt that Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish share many of the same fans and it’s been far too long since a Reel Big Fish tour. Let’s make it happen.
The prerecorded intro to “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads” played out as everyone recited along with it: “This is a fair request, and I promise I will not judge any person only as a teenager…” Another crowd favorite by the reaction in the pit. A young lad in a Jack Skellington shirt came out dancing onstage and to help sing the pre-chorus, “Do you know about her strength in convictions…” At the climatic end, he was introduced as Everett, the young son of Jaret from Bowling for Soup. Check out Less Than Jake’s latest album called “Silver Linings,” which was released in December 2020.
Bowling for Soup has always been that funny band from Texas with great catchy songs about the average guy who just can’t catch a break. “High School Never Ends” was Bowling for Soup’s first song played, which is about how you think once you get out of high school, everything is going to be great. But you find out that everything is still the same, people are obsessed with the same crap that they were in high school, and you’re still a loser. Sticking with the same kind of theme, the next song, “Almost” off their album “A Hangover You Don’t Deserve,” tells the story of a young man who goes through many “almost” experiences during his life.
Lead singer/guitarist Jaret Reddick is the master of ceremonies and was doing his best Rick Neilsen of Cheap Trick imitation by having a mic stand loaded with guitar picks, doing tricks with them, and throwing them into the audience all night. He had a number of them stuck to his face at one point. I even ended up with a couple as souvenirs.
A large digital countdown timer was unveiled onstage and they explained that it was exactly how long we all had to wait until they played the song “1985.” It had about 36 minutes to go.
Believe it or not, Bowling for Soup recorded the opening theme song for “Phineas and Ferb,” the cartoon on The Disney Channel. Called “Today is Gonna Be a Great Day,” as they played it, the crowd enthusiastically sang along with Reddick, “There’s a hundred and four days of summer vacation…” Afterward, Reddick remarked that the best thing about that song is that every time they play it, there is always a circle pit and “every one of those dudes in that pit used to sit and watch with Mac n Cheese all over their faces.”
Introducing the next segment of their show as something that they had never done before at the House of Blues, Reddick called it the “Bowling for Soup Comedy Jam” where each member of the band took turns telling jokes and the crowd got to pick the winner. Drummer Gary Wiseman won the contest, and apparently he wins every time they complained.
They introduced their newest single off their latest album “Pop Drunk Snot Bread” by mentioning that “the two oldest bands on the bill have new stuff and they’re both bitchin,’” rewording it, he said “they’re all right.” They played “I Want to be Brad Pitt,” a song which goes through the listing of all Brad Pitt’s movies, projects, and key points in his life reiterating the statement “I want to be Brad Pitt” repeated throughout “I’ll bet even Brad Pitt wants to be Brad Pitt” they sing.
Of course, saving their biggest hits for last, and I got to ask, do songs get any catchier than “Punk Rock 101” or “Girl All the Bad Guys Want?” Both songs are from their “Drunk Enough to Dance” album and crowd favorites that result in a big sing-along for the fans. Once the countdown timer reached zero at the perfect moment, Reddick asked, “What time is it?” The crowd responded with “1985!” and everybody went nuts.
I have been to a lot of shows recently and I have got to say, this one was one of the best! Pop-punk forever!