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Opening the evening are power pop punk quartet Orange. With three albums to their name thus far and a brand new EP, 'Dead Sexy', released just a week ago, the band have only started making waves in the UK scene over the past couple of years, albeit active since 2004. A support slot on Bowling For Soup's current tour, however, will undoubtedly help to raise their profile further still. Lincoln's the ninth show in as many days and Orange are discernibly a well-oiled unit from the off, bursting with confidence and energy as they appear on stage. Vocalist/bassist Joe Dexter is attired as brightly as his band name would suggest with dyed/styled hair making him resemble Edward Scissorhands after he's been Tangoed. Beyond mere image, though, he also demands attention through his dynamic performance as when he's not bound to singing duties behind his barbed-wire covered mic stand, he strides around the stage attempting to gee up a fairly static audience. Fairly static, that is, with minimal movement but fully appreciative of Orange's performance as loud applause follows each of the pop punk tunes they fire out in quick succession in their half hour set. Orange's music is not groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination but they have refined the art of their chosen genre to perfection with an abundance of catchy hooks in the context of succinct, up-tempo song structures. All in all, a solid performance from a band who are evidently going from strength to strength.
Monday 24th October 2011
The Engine Shed in Lincoln, UK
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
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Formed in 1998 under the moniker Bomb Squad, Suburban Legends assumed their present day name a year later and here they are in Lincoln as main support on the tour. Undoubtedly a new name for many present, they become the discovery of the night for a whole horde of Bowling For Soup fans judging by the audience reaction that becomes increasingly more vociferous and animated as their set progresses. With a touch of Danny Elfman's Oingo Boingo battiness, their songwriting adheres to an infectious blend of ska, rock, new wave, and pop, all delivered on the live stage with an incessant energy, tightly and, most importantly, a truly infectious fun vibe that wins you over whatever your listening proclivities might be. It certainly wins me over, anyway, and just about everyone else present in the Engine Shed this evening as the majority of the crowd bounce up and down to Suburban Legends' feel-good tunes. Frontman Vincent Walker knows how to work an audience par excellence and splitting them into two for a mid-set sing-along is always a winner. The lively brass section of Aaron Bertram on trumpet and Brian Robertson on trombone also impresses as the two men hurl their instruments high in the air, leap around at every opportunity and execute some choreographed dance moves. Brian Klemm's guitar adds a rockier/metal dimension to the overall mix at key points with distorted chords and some skilful soloing sporadically beefing up the band's sound. Suburban Legends are a rather stunning live band and will leave Lincoln, and the UK, with significantly more fans than when they arrived on these shores for this tour.
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Whether you choose to generically classify their musical output as punk rock or, as it is more commonly perceived, pop punk, one cannot deny that Bowling For Soup are always an entertaining live band with the emphasis on fun for both the musicians and audience. And tonight is no exception as their thirteen date 2011 UK tour stops off in Lincoln. Opening with a duo of tracks from 2006 album 'The Great Burrito Extortion Case', namely 'I'm Gay' and 'High School Never Ends', which are swiftly followed by 'S-S-S-Saturday' from new release 'Fishin' for Woos', Bowling For Soup are on fine form with frontman Jaret Reddick pulling all manner of gurns and grins at onlookers between singing parts. With guitarist Chris Burney fairly static in his stage presence, it's perhaps a step-down from the energy levels sustained throughout Suburban Legends' performance but this seems to matter not for the audience who jump up and down en masse to Bowling For Soup's songs as many voice the words to every track played. Aside from the music, entertainment is also offered in the form of comedic between-song banter as band members exchange witty remarks with each other and the crowd. A couple of bras are hurled onto the stage throughout the night, the first of which provides the source of much jesting for four or five songs. They finish playing each track and the bra is up for discussion again including speculation as to whether it came off a "confused little boy" and bassist Erik Chandler wears it around his head for an entire song, saying that as it's such a tight fit he's concerned about the size of the person it belongs to as well as stating it's "the nicest fragrance I've had surrounding my head since we started this tour!". The hits come thick and fast including the expected inclusions of 'Punk Rock 101', 'Almost' and their cover of SR-71's '1985', and the band even take a break from proceedings as they all gather by the back of the stage at their personalised bar area which is occupied by three girls sat on stools for most of the night (competition winners perhaps?). Suburban Legends' brass section appear back on stage to add trumpet and trombone to 'Belgium' before a cover of Bryan Adams' 'Summer of '69' ends their set. The obligatory gig formality of stage exit, cheers for more, and a reappearance leads to an encore airing of 'Girl All the Bad Guys Want'. To be blatantly honest, the whole pop punk (or whatever you choose to call it) movement has never really struck a chord with me in its recorded form but, on the live stage, for a night of unmitigated musical revelry and impromptu jesting, it doesn't get much better than Bowling For Soup.
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