The Get Happy Tour - Manchester Academy 1 - 10.2.07

Earlier this summer it was indie bands such as Kasabian that were declaring War On Emo, now it's the return of pop punk (still the biggest selling genre of music in the world) to come across the pond as Allies and fight the same war under the banner of the Get Happy Tour.

Army Of Freshmen mix pure pop punk with harmonious powerpop with electric results which owes as much to Weezer as it does to the likes of Blink 182 or tonight's headliners Bowling For Soup. With a clutch of singles and an underground following who were clinging to the rails the moment the doors opened this California band start of as underdogs and end up one of the best bands of the night. At only 25 minutes the set is far too short, but you get the sense that is they played for any longer they'd collapse as this band have more energy than five Pennie's from the Automatic. "Juliet" and "The End Of The Day" are classic tracks and even without Jared from BFS and Brendan from Wheatus who join them on stage they'd have walked away on top of the world. Catch them when they come back to the UK this summer for an intimate show at Jilly's Rockworld.

Talking of Wheatus we'd forgotten just how bad this band were. Even in their day their best song was a cover, Erasure's "A Little Respect", and now as well as sounding atrocious Wheatus singer looks more like a pedo than Matthew Kelly. We stood, waited for "Teenage Dirtbag" to be played and considered how this wasn't really getting us happy at all...and was in fact drawing us further back to our bedrooms to listen to emo.

Before Lil Chris took over the pop scene there was a little known band called Busted. They came, changed the music scene as we knew it and then suddenly Charlie said he was leaving to form an emo band. Last thing we heard Matt Willis was eating out a Kangaroos ass so it leaves James Bourne on Son Of Dorks debut tour to rescue the good ship Busted. Designer Magazine recently heard whisphers of a split and that Son Of Dork's guitarist Steve Ruston was going to form a (snip - official secrets act editor) tribute band, but Bourne with his Machiavellian power has managed to reign his band in.

Bourne is essentially the same person he was two years ago. The pop hooks aren't quite as obvious and Son Of Dork's sound is slightly harder edged than Busted, but he still thinks he's American and he looks as if he's eating lemon curd sandwiches from the dirt patch as the bottom of the garden. "Slacker", "Sick" and "Ticket Outta Loserville" are all quality songs and the audience love them providing the first real highlight of the night, but if you stand there and listen to the subtle lyrics gems on Murdered In The Mosh such as "She's into Janes Addiction but she doesn't know their songs". On the basis of tonight Son Of Dork could well end up bigger than Fightstar!!

After what feels more like a mini-festival than a gig we're left with headliners Bowling For Soup who should be served up daily as the musical alternative to prozac. Designer Magazine have seen them countless times and we never really tire of them despite the fact they play virtually the same set every time they hit the UK. "The Bitch Song, "1985", "Emily" and "Punk Rock 101" are staples of their set and admittedly we're far past tipsy but they may or may have not played "Girl All The Bad Guys Want". Regardless it doesn't matter as each new album brings a new anthem for BFS and with "The Great Burrito Extortion Case" that anthem is "High School Never Ends", a song which sums up the bands spirit more than anything else.

While most punk pop bands have split up ala Blink or moved on like Sum 41 or Good Charlotte, Bowling For Soup have stayed true to their roots and unleashed song after song. Tonight they don't even feel the need to through in the usual obligatory cover versions mid set to pad things out as there's too many of their own to cram into a short one hour set.

Tonight may not have convinced us to stop listening to emo, but with the exception of Wheatus who really did make us want to slit our wrists it was an enjoyable night of "beer and boobies" as Bowling For Soup would say

Alex McCann
Photos: Karen McBride


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