Friday, 23 February 2018

Army Of Freshmen, THE AQUABATS! and Bowling for Soup @ Manchester Apollo, 16.02.18

The Aquabats at Manchester Apollo 2018

Hey guys! It's been a minute since I blogged about a gig I've been to, but no time like the present, eh? So my sister came up North for the weekend and we managed to catch two gigs- we caught Donny B at Leeds, and saw Army of Freshmen, The Aquabats! and Bowling for soup at Manchester Apollo. It's a really nice venue, which used to be a theatre so it has a sloping floor like O2 academy Brixton.

I think this review  might annoy some people, but I'm just going to come out and say it: although Army of Freshmen and The Aquabats were really great and I'm soooo pleased I went, Bowling for Soup were disappointing.

Army of freshmen Manchester at Apollo 2018

Army of Freshmen// unfortunately, me and Lizzie weren't early enough in the queue to catch their full set, but the bit I heard, I really liked! They sounded upbeat and fun, and I'll definitely be checking their music out properly.

The Aquabats at Manchester Apollo 2018

The Aquabats!// Ok, so the Aquabats are the reason me and Lizzie went to this show. If you don't know who they are, they're kind of  a mixture of pop punk, ska, and Japanese super sentai shows. They have their own TV show (which is the best seriously go watch it now) but their music is also really legit a good time, so I went into this with high hopes.

The Aquabats at Manchester Apollo 2018

And they did not disappoint! Me and Lizzie managed to get pretty far forward, so we had an amazing view- which was well worth it because the band had such a great stage presence! Their visuals  were really good- shots from their TV show mixed with old cartoons and TV shows and it worked really well. The MC Bat Commander also had really great banter with the crowd! I was happy that they made a lot of references to the show.
One amazing part was when one of their roadies came on, dressed in a silver catsuit and throwing bread at the crowd (he was 'Breaddie Mercury') and he and the MC Bat Commander had a full on fake fight (!). Amazing.
They also bought many many inflatables for the crowd- which matched the songs- sharks, pizza and pool floaties!

The Aquabats at Manchester Apollo 2018

Although the set was only 45 minutes long, they managed to cram in so many hits: The Aquabats Super Show theme song, The Cat With Two Heads, Fashion Zombies, The Legend is True, Shark Fighter, Look at me, I'm a winner, Pizza Day, Super Rad, Doin' Science and Pool Party.

Perfection.

Everyone had such a good time, even the guys next to me who clearly had no idea who the Aquabats were ended up jumping around and having fun by the end of the set. 10/10 would recommend, and I really hope they come back and do a headline UK tour soon.

Bowling for soup at Manchester Apollo 2018
Bowling for soup// 
Ok, first up, a quick disclaimer. I just want to say that I like Bowling for Soup's music. I've liked their songs, not obsessively, but for a good few years. And especially after seeing Neck Deep instead of BFS at Slam Dunk, I was excited to see BFS play live. I figured that they'd know how to put on a good show and have a good time. But. They might have just been the worst band I've ever seen live.
Technically they played fine. No missed notes or anything. But their banter was awful- loads of crass fart jokes, sex jokes and fat jokes (many of which were repeated several times) And don't get me wrong, crude jokes can be great. Remember All Time Low when Jack full on had "boner" written on his guitar? Hilarious. But these guys' delivery was flat, and they literally repeated the same jokes about 3 times each. 

The band also barely moved on stage except to go get a drink. Which is fine, but a bit boring? They also had loads of fans on stage (which felt like a bit of a money grab personally) and when the fans onstage are more interesting to watch than the actual band, you know you're in trouble. They also had loads of pyrotechnics and CO2, but it didn't disguise the lack of action from the band.

BFS played their 2002 album Drunk enough to dance all the way through, and they just didn't seem into it at all. And even when they got round to playing Girl all the bad guys want (my fave song of theirs), they played it a little fast! Which made me feel like they couldn't wait for it to be over. They almost acted like playing for us was a chore, and that we were lucky to be there? Which might have just been a 'cool punk persona' but ugh. Be grateful to your fans. I like it when bands are excited about what they do. Like the Aquabats, or Don Broco, or actually every single other band I've seen live basically. 

Their visuals couldn't compare to the bats, just music videos and shots of the crowd (most of whom didn't seem too excited as there wasn't much movement)- and then they flashed a "Countdown to 1985" on the screen- an hour into their 2 hour set, it basically confirmed they'd be playing it last, and it just highlighted how much their set was dragging along. I spent most of the set hoping it would get better, but in the end at about half 10 me and Lizzie made the executive decision to head home to Leeds early because I had a presentation in the morning and BFS just didn't seem into it. I'd love to see them play when they had more than 20% energy. Being after an amazing band like the Aquabats, who managed to get everyone, even the people who didn't know them beforehand, on board and jumping along probably didn't help.

TL:DR I'm disappointed. And nostalgia for BFS didn't make up for their complete lack of stage presence.  But the Aquabats and Army of Freshmen made up for it for sure! 

I can't stress enough how amazing the Aquabats were! They were everything I'd hoped they'd be and more, and I'm so glad we went so that I could see them IRL putting on an amazing show. They completely stole the show that night- proper professionals, making sure that everyone- from the smallest kids who came to see them, to the BFS fans who had no idea who they are- had a really great time. 

But BFS...have you guys ever been to see a longtime fave and then been disappointed?
-Amy xoxo
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