Show Review: Bowling for Soup with Dollyrots and Sunderland at Bottom of the Hill, 8/7/2011

by Joel Edelman on August 8, 2011

Generation Y’s favorite frat party band, Bowling for Soup, visited San Francisco. Because it’s 2011, that means a crowd of recently divorced dads with their preteen sons. And Bowling for Soup was fully prepared for that.

But first we had Sunderland and the Dollyrots. Sunderland are famous enough that my iPhone, which I used to take notes, was able to autocomplete their name. Or perhaps they’re just named after something that is. The band is a four-piece with an extra guitar. They were very clean cut and good looking kids. They probably couldn’t have grown a beard if they’d worked on it all summer. In fact, they might have been.

This band works because of who they open for. They sound like the pop-punk bands of the late ’90s that the dads remember fondly, but they are accessible enough that the kids won’t get bored either. It was obviously a strategic decision to let this be a rare all ages show at Bottom of the Hill.

Their third song was a cover of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle.” It sounded exactly like the original. For this crowd, it was absolutely perfect. As a matter of fact, Sunderland’s original material sounded like unreleased Jimmy Eat World B-sides.

It seems that even bands are making fun of MySpace these days. Of course, the lead singer was wearing a T-shirt with a giant thumbs up on it. (That’s a Facebook reference, dingus.)

After a half hour, they got to play a bonus song because the crowd liked them. It was like on Beatmania IIDX when you do a good job. And after their set they shot the crowd with a camera, which I’ve surprisingly never seen a band do before.These Oregon natives played unrecorded stuff and stuff from their new record. I was really impressed with their stage presence. Granted, this suburban Contra Costa crowd was going to be easy to impress, but the band still took it very seriously. They did a really nice job. Maybe they didn’t rock out with their cocks out, but their hands were in their pants so they could have if they needed to.


Kelly Ogden of The Dollyrots

After a 15 minute break, the Dollyrots came on. They’ve aged gracefully after 10 years of being in the scene. Kelly Ogden’s arms are buff. I was so excited to see her after having missed them every other time they’ve been in town. I’ve been waiting for this moment for nearly seven years. And they did everything they could to be great. But being second out of three is generally the hardest spot on the bill.

Demographically, being the only female on a three-act bill with 11 other guys makes you stand out for the wrong reasons. And in addition the audience was full of desperate newly single men trying to impress their sons. But more on that in a minute.

Even the sound guy had trouble. It seemed as if Ogden’s mic was turned really low from time to time. Some tracks, especially toward the beginning of their set, you could hardly hear her at all.

The Dollyrots also did a cover for their third song. I’ve never seen so many bands do a cover so early in their set list. It must be a sign of the times. At any rate, they did Melanie’s “Brand New Key,” which they made their own. This is how you do a cover, motherfuckers. I’d have taped it if I had known it was going to happen.

I give the Dollyrots a lot of credit. They could do a tour with a bunch of female-fronted acts, but instead they went what could have been outside their comfort zone and played with the class of 1998’s finest.

They played my favorite song of theirs, “Jackie Chan,” although they’d updated the lyrics in a way that could have been contrived, but I give them the benefit of the doubt. I’m curious what the other versions at other stops on the tour sounded like. Basically all the “nun-chucks and an attitude” stuff was localized for San Francisco. But then halfway through that they started singing the theme from Growing Pains. By this point, you’d forgotten what was going on, but then they break into the rest of “Jackie Chan,” and all is right with the world, except the audience was confused. They probably should have said “Bud Light rules!” or something along those lines. There is a new song that has the guitarist on lead vocals. Not sure why but it’s a good song nonetheless.

They have a new EP coming out this Tuesday, and they played some stuff from it, as well as all three of their albums. They also played “Kick Me to the Curb,” which frankly was unnecessary because they have a new record to sell. It was a tip of the cap, although maybe just to me, because I don’t know who else was there to see the Dollyrots besides me.

Oh, and they also have a split 7″ with Bowling for Soup. I hope that works out for them.

All in all, it was a good set but not for this crowd.

After a 20 minute break, Bowling for Soup came out, complete with what I guess is their theme song. And now I shall rant about their fan base. I hope you enjoy these fantastic pictures I took, because I almost got in a fight because I was apparently standing in some guy’s spot while he went to the bathroom. He then proceeded to stand right in front of me and take his own pictures. I wonder what Bay Area music site he writes for. I guarantee it isn’t the No. 1 Bay Area music site!

At any rate, he was totally posturing in front of his son, who could not give less of a shit. He was just trying to watch the band. And that’s when it hit me: I thought having your parents embarrass you was timeless, but I guess it is generational because his son wasn’t embarrassed. The father was! Well, I’m sorry you didn’t wear a rubber when you slept with your crazy ex-wife, but hopefully your short penis was only the cause of her leaving you and not also something you’ve passed along to your poor offspring.

So about the pictures, I can’t say I risked life and limb to get them, but I was glad to see that nobody with a pickup truck on giant wheels was parked next to me when I left.

So, yeah, Bowling for Soup, the band. A ton of banter. And a lot of it wasn’t scripted because it was situational. Their next show is in Sparks, Nevada, so they make some digs at their next stop. Clearly Nevada’s advertising campaign isn’t working because, like everyone from the Central Time Zone, these Texans can’t pronounce Nevada correctly.

Musicwise, the crowd responded quite strongly to “My Wiener” and “Ohio.” Like any self-respecting frat boy, there was a ton of singing along. And I am hoping that people with screen readers won’t see the quote marks in the last sentence and will think the audience actually liked my dick.

Both the Dollyrots and Bowling for Soup made reference to heavy drinking the night before in Bakersfield, so that must have been quite a show. None of them were drinking that much tonight, either, so it must have been an interesting drive over Pacheco Pass this morning.

It was obvious that this was a good show the same way that Jimmy Buffett was when I saw him. I don’t need to be targeted to appreciate art. That was the case here. It helps to be the right age and the object of Bowling for Soup’s desire. Being white doesn’t hurt either. If you like this band, you missed a great show. They were exactly what you would have hoped them to be. They spent five minutes talking about fake curse words. And they taught us the difference between spirit fingers and jazz hands. Some of the kids that were here will never forget this. When I was 12, I went to a showing of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Who’s the loser now?

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