Bowling For Soup, Less Than Jake and Vandoliers at Cardiff Utilita Arena

There was obviously a lot of hype around the You Asked For It Tour as we got Bowling For Soup and Less Than Jake on the same bill and they definitely lived up to the hype in Cardiff!

On a rainy Friday night, we head to Cardiff to the Utilita Arena (it will always be the CIA to us locals) for a right party with Bowling For Soup, Less Than Jake and Vandoliers.

This show was a history making one as it was the biggest headline show that Bowling For Soup had ever played (yeah I was genuinely surprised about this too). I remember seeing the band at the same venue back in 2018 but this time, it was sold out with a 7,500 capacity. But we would have to wait a while to see BFS play this biggest show.

The Vandoliers. Picture: Lizi Birt


First up we were introduced to Matt Stocks, who was the ‘host’ of the night which was different but I feel like this wasn’t necessary as  the crowd were already hyped up enough with just the house music and it didn’t really add much.


Now I’ve never heard of Vandoliers before but I am definitely a fan. If you’d told me that I would be leaving as a fan of a country punk band, I wouldn’t have believed you but I was blown away. They definitely knew how to get the party started and had a good mix of country and punk and songs including Rolling Out and Troublemaker, which were great. The additions of a violin and trumpet really added a nice touch. The crowd were really enjoying themselves (as was I) even if they weren’t familiar with the band but the set ended in a massive singalong to a cover of The ProclaimersI’m Gonna Be (500 miles).

Less Than Jake. Image: Lizi Birt

Less Than Jake

It was time to switch it up a notch as Less Than Jake took to the stage. Now I know I focused earlier on how this show was Bowling For Soup’s biggest headline show, but we are at a co-headline tour so we also had a huge set from Less Than Jake with hits including Last One Out of Liberty City and of course Gainsville Rock City as well as a range of fantastic tracks including Plastic Cup Politics, Lie to Me and one of my favourites The Science of Selling Yourself Short. I’d previously listened to Less Than Jake casually but seeing them live has cemented their place in my favourites playlist! 

It was a real party atmosphere (you’ll read this a lot) and even had paper streamer cannons and the inflatable waving tubes which added to the atmosphere. At times it was a bit hard to hear the brass section but thankfully this was not too often. You could tell that Less Than Jake were having a whale of a time out on stage which is always something that hypes up the crowd even more. You can create the best music possible but if you’re not enjoying yourself on stage, then it’s not that good of a live show.
There was also a bit of banter with the crowd, with Chris saying how they warned Vandoliers to not say anything about England as the crowd will turn on them which got a good laugh (not that he’s wrong).

Bowling For Soup. Image: Lizi Birt

Bowling For Soup

Now anyone who knows of Bowling For Soup (which the person sat behind me definitely couldn’t have) knows that they’re a party band and have fantastic crowd interaction. Well you knew from the moment the bar opened up on stage at the start of their set that you were in for a great time.

I admit I’d seen the setlist beforehand from other shows on the tour and was a bit sad that some of my favourites like Alexa Bliss and Hello Anxiety were missed out, but I completely forgot about it the moment they started playing opening track Emily as it was just a setlist full of bangers.

The band were on form with full on banter with the crowd including discussions as a guy was on his stag do and they were shocked he chose them over strippers. Obviously with the bar being on stage, there were various breaks to grab a drink between songs (and a hilarious comment from Jaret celebrating the fact they did two songs in a row) and then lots of cheeky comments. In between these moments there were songs with the likes of My Wena, Out the Window, Today is Gonna Be a Great Day and the classics of High School Never Ends, Girl All the Bad Guys Want and 1985.

Bowling For Soup. Image: Lizi Birt

An extended version of Punk Rock 101 saw some technical difficulties as midway through the band began some photo ops on stage as Never Gonna Give You Up played over the speakers but it was cut before the band could do their little dance and front of house struggled to get it back going (which really angered the one guy behind me) and his led to comments from Jaret about having Rick Astley to come out, even going so far as to pretend he was here and ‘called’ him out on the stage – oh that would have been a great sight! Normal service resumed as the track started at the right place for the band to do their little dance and then kick into the end of Punk Rock 101.

So there was no appearance from Rick Astley but there was an earlier guest appearance as Vandoliers took to the stage to finish Ohio (Come Back to Texas) and being in Wales, we had an extra special moment as Punk Rock Factory came out (well moved from the bar) to perform the Phineas and Ferb theme song.

There was also a lot of confusion with the guitar giveaway with trying to find the relevant person in the crowd and Jaret gave a very heartfelt speech about mental health and opened up about his struggles providing advice to anyone who could be struggling.

Of course the actual music and performance was incredible but no one expects anything less of BFS and for the biggest show of their career, it was definitely a spectacle worthy of the title.

It was an absolutely fantastic night and one of the best shows I’ve seen.

Elizabeth Birt

February 25, 2024

Band management assistant. Goth princess and lover of all things music and sport.


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