When I was in high school, one of my best friends (shout out to Lella!) gave me a burned copy of Hello Rockview by Less Than Jake. 10 years later and this is still my favorite album by my favorite band. Hell, the entire reason I’m in a ska band is because of that one album, so you can blame it all on these guys.
This whole night was just one great story that started with chaos and ended with a front row seat to high-energy performances by three of my favorite live acts. A few months back my band was actually approached to open for Less Than Jake on this tour for one of their dates, but unfortunately, it couldn’t happen due to the shows already being fully booked.
To make it up to us, we were given some guest tickets. As if that wasn’t enough, the booking agent hooked us up with a few photo passes for Kelsey and I! We get to the venue, grab our tickets, stick on our passes, and just when we thought the night could not get any better, we were given all-access wristbands to hang out backstage! I’m pretty sure 16-year-old Josh was fangirling out more than ever.
We walk into the Foundry, which is a smallish venue above a monster venue and see a tiny stage with standing room for only a small crowd. Pipes and rafters on the walls and ceilings gave me the idea that someone is going to be climbing something and, eventually, that did happen! The fact that my favorite band was playing a show this small was both surprising and awesome. Knowing their usual stage antics, this was going to get interesting fast.
The first band to hit the stage was Mephiskapheles. I’ve seen these guys 10-15 times at this point and can’t find anything not to love. A ska band with songs about Satan (and Bumblebee Tuna) with heavy breakdowns, unusual time signature and a killer horn section. The amount of energy they put out is hard to top and their singer seems like he actually gets into the music rather than just sticking to the mic like many other bands I’ve seen. The guitarist kept making faces at the camera, the lights seemed to stick to a red theme, and the music was just on point the entire set.
“My Bologna has a first name, it’s S-A-T-A-N!”
Westbound Train was up next, which was almost like a calm-before-the-storm feeling. Slowing it down and getting into the groove between two high-energy ska bands is a move that not every act can do, but Westbound Train has it down to a science.
Obi on the mic makes me feel bad for just about any other singer out there. He’s just got that coolness factor that most of us will never have. He ended the set getting up close to the crowd, leaning against the barricade and getting everyone singing along to “Check Your Time” to end the set.
“If you want me…come and get it!”
It was finally that time. The moment I had been waiting the last few months for. The guys run out onto the stage and the crowd goes wild! Less Than Jake hasn’t even played a chord yet and people are already bouncing up and down.
The show that night was going to be a full play-through of Hello Rockview, so naturally it was nearly impossible not to sing along, belting out every word to every song while standing feet away from the guys who got me into this industry. They were constantly posing for the camera, poking fun at each other, messing with the crowd; basically, they were the perfect live band. I am pretty sure I’ve seen them over 20 times in 4+ different states and I am hoping to hit 30 soon enough. These guys are 100% in the game for the love of the music and the fans and it’s more apparent during their live set than any band I’ve had the pleasure of seeing or meeting.
Next year is Less Thank Jake’s 25th anniversary and I don’t see them going anyplace anytime soon. Note: The only issue I had was that apparently Philly has no idea what a skank pit is. Push-pits aren’t as enjoyable, but as long as people are moving it’s still a win.
Still coming down off the high of being at this show and getting the chance to take photos of my favorite band, playing my favorite album. Got to hang out with a few of the guys and sat side stage when we weren’t taking pictures (or getting in the pit). Overall experience: 10/10.
“Did we take the time to really discover how little we know about each other?”
Less Than Jake: