JESS BECK | Go Venue Magazine
It’s Sunday night, September 17, 2023, in downtown Minneapolis.
It’s basically a deserted wasteland of leftover corporate mega structures.
But then all of a sudden…there’s a glimmer of life.
Punk rockers of all ages are heard wandering the streets of urban dystopia.
A show is coming…
And that show was Bowling For Soup, Authority Zero, and Mest at the Fine Line Music Cafe, and it was like the early 2000s threw up all over the place. I mean that in the best way possible. From the old-school vibe of the venue to the attitude of pure fun you come to expect at a punk show, the night was a nostalgic rollercoaster that left me wondering if I’d accidentally stumbled into a hot tub time machine.
First up was Mest, and these guys haven’t aged a day! They kicked things off with millennial hit “Thank You For Being A Friend” which seems fitting, given that we got to see the original lineup despite the bands on-again-off-again history. These dudes had all the energy from the first riff, and the crowd was INTO IT. Mest is here, ladies and gentlemen. And they don’t give a fuck what you think.
The highlight of their set?
They introduced a 13-year-old punk rock fan to their first stage dive.
What’s more punk rock than that?!
Yeah, we got an image of it below – pure joy like only a punk show can bring to any human.
Next up was Authority Zero, and these guys brought the punk rock energy in spades. Starting out with 2010s “Get It Right“, they tore through their set with the kind of intensity you’d expect from a band half their age. Rounding out the set with hits like “Revolution” and “Mexican Radio“, Authority Zero had the crowd literally jumping and ready for what was next.
The best part was when vocalist Jason DeVore walked into the crowd and just started screaming his fucking face off amidst throngs of excited – albiet VERY moist – fans who were more than willing to scream in unison. Authority Zero slaps on record, sure, but they fucking FUCK in concert. Make these guys your #1 bucket list experience in punk if you haven’t already.
And then came the moment we’d all been waiting for: Bowling For Soup. These guys are the kings of pop-punk irreverence, and they didn’t disappoint. Opening with “Getting Old Sucks (But Everybody’s Doing It)“, vocalist Jaret Reddick was all of our best friend for a short time that night. Powering straight into “Almost“, the crowd went absolutely bonkers.
Like, I’m not sure if I’ve seen a crowd that energetic, maybe ever.
Reddick went on to discuss his struggle with depression, a theme I’ve been seeing more artists open up about and honestly, I’m here for it. Hearing Jaret talk about getting back to himself and making music again was truly inspiring, and I’m pretty sure someone was cutting onions because everyone’s eyes were watery.
Even if he is a Grammy not-winner.
But hey…so is N’Sync, so I’d say they’re in pretty decent company.
Of course, they played all the classics, from “High School Never Ends” to “Girl All the Bad Guys Want,” and the sing-alongs were epic. There’s something about shouting, “NINETEEN, NINETEEN, NINETEEN EIGHTY-FIVE” with a room full of strangers that just warms the heart.
But the highlight of the night for me was during “Ohio (Come Back To Texas)“. You know that part where it gets all slow, and it’s just the crowd singing? Yeah. That fucking happened. Granted, the crowd fucked up the timing, but the BFS guys picked it right back up, and we were off on another adventure with what my brother called “The Phineas and Ferb Guys“.
In the end, the concert was like a blast from the past, a reminder of the carefree days when we didn’t have to worry about adulting. Bowling For Soup, Authority Zero, and Mest put on a show that was equal parts nostalgic and kick-ass. So, if you ever get a chance to see these guys live, do yourself a favor and grab a ticket. It’s a night of irreverent, punk-rock fun that you won’t soon forget.
As it is becoming a pattern with First Avenue owned venues, I can’t thank the staff enough for making it a fun, safe night for everyone. Y’all are the real MVPs.
And to the rest of ya, keep being awesome to each other, support your local deodorant dealer, and we’ll catch you at the next one!
Bowling For Soup