As the ‘Get Happy Tour’ has made it’s way to Birmingham’s O2 Academy; with the line up featuring Army of Freshmen, The Aquabats and being headlined by Bowling For Soup it was sure to be a night filled with pop punk fun.
When we arrived 10 minutes before doors even opened we could see the huge queue of people patiently waiting to get in. Ages ranged from 8 to 80, proving these three bands appeal to just about everyone, I mean who doesn’t enjoy a bit of fast paced pop punk music?
Opening the night was Army Of Freshmen, a 6 piece Californian pop punk band. This tour brings the guys back to the UK for the first time since 2014 following an unofficial hiatus and helps them to celebrate their 20th anniversary tour. Joining them was their amazing drummer ‘Mike Milligan’ who had previously left the band during the ‘Happy To Be Alive’ era, much to dedicated and devoted fans pleasure.
Bouncing onto the stage just 15 minutes after doors opened, the venue was barely a quarter full but they were greeted by fans who had clearly missed their presence in the UK. Front man ‘Chris Jay’ kept the crowd engaged and people were more than happy to join in when prompted; this included clapping when Chris sang (in the tune of the well known nursery song) “if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands…” As they were only the opening act rather than headlining, they had previously asked on social media what songs fans would like to hear most and thus all the classic favourite songs could be heard from every album such as ‘Get Em Up’, ”Juliet’, ‘At The End Of The Day’, ‘10,000 Years’, plus other amazing tunes. Even with the small crowd, you could see how well the crowd responded and they clearly gained some new fans during their short performance. In true pop punk fashion the band were energetic and fun, the perfect combination for an opening act.
The room had continued to fill as Army of Freshmen welcomed us to the Birmingham leg of The Get Happy Tour and by the time they were finishing the people that had formed the queues outside around the o2 Academy were inside filling the room with vigour.
Next onto the stage we were to be greeted by The Aquabats, a 5 piece band also from California, playing the UK for the first time in 5 years.
Donning their crime fighting superhero costumes that they’re renowned for, ‘The Aquabat’s exploded onto the stage with ‘The Aquabats Supershow’ theme song; The Aquabats Supershow is the band’s TV show that is aired on CITV and sees the band fighting villains in a quest to destroy evil by using music. During the show an Aquabats nemesis showed up, he was Freddie from the planet Mercury who used titles of Queen songs as puns, after some banter back and fourth between “Freddie” and the MC Bat Commander, the Aquabats front man, they decided the way to fight would be to have a dance off. With moves that can only be described as “dad dancing” the battle commenced until finally the Bat Commander wrestled his foe to the ground emerging victorious from this bizarre battle.
The band had such a great stage presence that the music seemed to come second to the hilarious act happening on stage and the crowd were immersed in the action throughout the set. Many young children were seen dotted around the seating area, clearly here to see their CITV heroes and it was a lovely sight to see, the next generation of pop punk lovers enjoying the live music. All too quickly their set came to an end but soon the main guys of the night would be greeting us, ‘Bowling For Soup’.
Now, for anyone that follows ‘Birmingham Live’, you’ll see we are very pro ‘Bowling For Soup.’ We don’t need to tell you how amazing and hilarious they are, or what a fantastic show they put on every time they come to the Midlands, but we’re going to anyway…
Not your typical band, Bowling For Soup enjoy bringing an on stage bar with them on tour, fully stocked even with a bartender and for special VIP fans, they were allowed to be on stage throughout the performance, drinking from the bar as and when they wished. An amazing gesture from a kind hearted band.
11 years since the previous ‘Get Happy Tour’ with BFS, Bloodhound Gang, Zebrahead and AOF, tonight was definitely going to be a barrel of laughs, possibly with some music in between! They kicked off the night with ‘I Don’t Wanna Rock’ the first song from the album, ‘Drunk Enough To Dance’, that they were going to play in it’s entirety to celebrate 16 years since it’s release in 2002. Now although their appearance may have changed a lot over the years, as shown by the retro videos on screen playing behind them, their stage presence had not. Lead singer ‘Jaret Reddick’ deciding to make jokes about his age and weight and just general silliness throughout. Drummer ‘Gary Wiseman’, added a special touch by having a rotating drum kit, much to the bands amusement. Pyrotechnics were also a nice touch added early on in the show during one of their biggest ever hits, ‘Girl All The Bad Guys Want’.
Teasing the crowd that the finale would be ‘1985’, they brought up a made up countdown to get the crowd excited, although this was hard to do as the room was already buzzing and electric with fans from all generations enjoying the show. This was only intensified with the theme tune Jaret wrote from ‘Phineas and Ferb’ being played. At some point the conversation got onto the Queens royal wave and guitarist ‘Chris Burney’ declared that it looked like playing with someone’s balls, which had the crowd in hysterics all doing the Queens ‘famous’ wave. Also for some random reason the sporting chant ‘Oggy oggy oggy’, became a thing after every few songs and shortly before the end of the set, Jaret told us it had only taken him 2 hours but he now knew the words and got the crowd to join in with him.
All too soon though the countdown began, ‘5…4…3…2…1′, and the band erupted into their final song’ 1985′ concluding the amazing 2 hour spectacular show and once again the foursome from Texas had blown us all away with their brilliant stage presence and excellent songs, making us oldies feel like teenagers once more.
Reviewers: Shaz Rafferty and Gemma Bywater
Photographer: Shaz Rafferty