Live (Feb. 3rd, 2011)Bottom Lounge - Chicago, IL
By Amy Meyer
In the midst of the 2011 Chicago snowpocalypse, despite unplowed roads and snowed in vehicles, Less than Jake still made the trek to the Bottom Lounge in Chicago, IL on Thursday, February 3 in support of the re-release of classic Less than Jake, and essential ska albums, 1996’s Losing Streak and 1998’sHello Rockview (set to be released March 1, 2011).
Cincinnati, OH’s The Dopamines, who received a lot of buzz the past year over their June 2010 release of Expect the Worst on Paper+Plastick ,kicked off the evening with some catchy pop-punk. The venue was filled with maybe 100 people when their set started at 6:30, but songs like “Public Domain” had plenty of concertgoers bopping their heads and singing. The three piece is sometimes joined by Mikey Erg on the stage, but this evening they were accompanied by Less Than Jake bassist and vocalist, Roger Manganelli on guitar. They powered through their half hour set full of energy and ended with seeming approval from the crowd.
Next was Off With Their Heads from Minneapolis, MN. By this time the venue was starting to fill up and about a fourth of the crowd was familiar with their songs. After playing “Drive” off the 2010 release In Desolation, singer Ryan Young explained, “This is fun, let’s get rowdy!” The crowd started to jump around to “Their Own Medicine,” and a small pit broke out. The two vocalists harmonized well, but Young’s singing did not seem as growly as the recorded material. As the set progressed, songs like “Trying to Breath,” “I Am You,” and “Fuck This, I’m Out” had the place looking more alive, and even the kids unfamiliar with the songs were starting to jump into the pit and dance along.
The Supervillains from Orlando, FL made the transition from punk to a reggae/ska sound. The crowd mellowed out for them, but by this time the venue was nearly full. The band was fronted by drummer/vocalist, Dominic Maresco, who also acted as the band smartass. Faster songs, similar to the style ofStreetlight Manifesto, had the once mellow crowd skanking and pushing.
Before starting “Johnny Too Bad,” Maresco said, “This song is a sing along, and if you can’t sing along, you’re fucking stupid!” As Maresco judged the crowds response, he concluded “Some of you guys did good, but some of you are fucking stupid!” After playing “20 Excuses,” Maresco decided that the people in the back were not doing their part singing and dancing along and said, “You guys are a bunch of pussies! Is that where all your moms and dads are?” Overall, the crowd seemed unfamiliar with the Supervillians and stayed relatively tame.
People young and old braved the snow to make it out for Less than Jake’s Hello Rockview and Losing Streak re-issue tour, and it was well worth it with the blow away set list. The crowd ranged from youngsters with “I heart ska” t-shirts to adult men dressed in head-to-toe in checkered print, even Dustin Diamond (Screech from Saved By the Bell) was there.
Less than Jake started their set out with beloved songs like “Sugar in Your Gas Tank,” “Help Save the Youth of America from Exploding,” and “Look What Happened.” Even though the band has been around since 1992, they looked great and were more energetic than ever. The whole band was in good spirits, talking to the crowd and cracking jokes in-between songs, while the front half of the venue never stopped moving. Singer/guitarist Chris DeMakes determined that Chicago is full of “fucking resilient motherfuckers,” in reference to the packed room despite the snow. He joked that the people from their native state of Florida are a bunch of pussies when it comes to bad weather.
The band stopped their set to pull three men from the crowd onto the stage to have a folicly challenged drinking contest. The prize, DeMakes said with a laugh, would be a copy of his solo cd that sold a few copies in Korea. The crowd laughed and DeMakes remarked, “If you call them bald again, I’ll fucking smack you, they’re folicly challenged!”
Less than Jake powered through more favorites such as “Great American Sharp Shooter,” “Dopeman,” and “Automatic.” The band pulled another fan onstage to scold her for texting during the show. When they asked who was so important that she needed to text them during the show and she responded a boy named Brian, the band replied, “Brian better have a ten inch cock and a big bank account, there’s no texting in rock and roll!”
After the texting queen dove into the crowd during “All My Best Friends are Metalheads,” more females started springing on stage to sing into the mic. As the girls jumped back off stage, they let themselves fall backwards into the front row of the crowd, opposed to catapulting across the room. The guys started to get in on the action and show the girls how to get some air.
A majority of the songs on the set list were from Hello Rockview and Losing Streak, but towards the end of the set, LTJ played some songs off their latest release, TV, which consists of covers of television theme songs. The played the theme to Anamanics and laughed about their relationship with Warner Brother Records Sire. They talked about more of their favorite cartoon shows, and poked fun at vocalist/bassist Roger Manganelli for watching Disney’s iCarly, to which he defended if your pants stay on during the show, its fine. They went onto play covers of Spongebob Squarepants, Scooby Doo, and a song about Big Macs they said had McDonalds bought, would of blown “I’m lovin’ it” out of the water.
Less than Jake ended their set with songs off 2003’s Anthem, hitting the crowd with confetti and wrapping up with “Plastic Cup Politics.” They came back to play an encore of “The Science of Selling Yourself Short” and “The Ghost of You and Me,” coming in at just over 20 songs. The crowd never stopped moving, people young and old were smiling, singing, and dancing along, the set list was unbeatable, and you could tell Less than Jake still have a great time being a band. Look forward to those re-releases March 1 on LTJ’s own Sleep It Off Records with expanded packaging, new artwork, and a live DVD.