A gimp bouncing around stage dressed in a tuxedo is just one part of the insanity that occurs at a Less Than Jake show. Early last week, Less Than Jake paid Philadelphia a visit at the Electric Factory, along with Pollen, One Man Army, and the Suicide Machines. It was a diverse evening, featuring a mix of pop punk, ska punk, and street punk rock ‘n’ roll. There was a lot of fun to be had by an insane crowd of fans who gathered to dance, mosh, and crowd-surf to the punk rock beat.
First up were the melodic stylings of Pollen. Pollen was the downfall of the evening. The band was boring in every way. Musically, Pollen sounded like another Blink 182 rip-off band. There was absolutely nothing that set the band apart from the rest of today’s music scene. Stage presence was horribly lacking as well. Aside from the occasional perfectly coordinated group jump, they didn’t provide much action.
The crowd shared my opinion. Few people stood toward the stage or danced during Pollen’s set. The night probably would have been better if Pollen hadn’t played, but someone had to warm up the crowd for the musical fury to come.
One Man Army took the stage next and blew Pollen out of the water. One Man Army has incredible style. The band not only played an amazing set, but also looked really good doing it. Band members sport the complete street punk ensemble including tight pants, multiple tattoos, and missing teeth.
They’ve also mastered the art of getting the crowd involved. Bassist James Kotter with virtually no effort turned the room into a sea of pumping fists and clapping hands. One Man Army played a mix of tracks from its two full-length albums, Last Word Spoken and Dead End Stories. Songs include powerhouse hooks with classic rock ‘n’ roll guitar solos and sing-a-long lyrics that put an optimistic spin on the struggles of everyday life. I would definitely suggest that anyone who likes music with attitude go see these San Francisco rebels with a cause.
The infectious fast-paced ska punk of the Suicide Machines followed. The Suicide Machines have been around for quite a while, but this was my first time experiencing the legend. According to several of the band’s devoted fans in attendance, the Suicide Machines did not play at full capacity. I, however, thought they rocked pretty hard with some speedy, hardcore numbers and some more danceable ska tunes.
They also played a lot of their classic hits like “New Girl” and “S.O.S.,” which had the whole crowd singing along. Older songs encompassed most of their set. This was a good choice because their new album just doesn’t live up to their past glory. All in all, the Suicide Machines played an exciting set that had fans moshing and crowd-surfing their hearts out.
Less Than Jake capped off the show with an outrageous performance. Set in front of a flaming backdrop, LTJ tore into its set with a surge of energy. This energy was set off by the zaniness of the show, including a man wearing nothing but an Afro wig and a bright yellow Speedo, a skeleton with a mane of blond hair, and a spectacle of flaming cymbals and drumsticks. Less Than Jake had the crowd bouncing and singing along.
Most of those in attendance knew the words to just about every song. The band tore through some of its most popular songs. The mix of horns with the traditional guitar, bass, and drum line-up caused an earthquake of sound that can’t be captured fully on the band’s studio recordings.
Less Than Jake’s performance was interspersed with bits of discussion and comic relief among the band members. A highlight of the evening was their cover of the Romantics’ “What I Like About You.” Less Than Jake are great performers providing an outrageous circus of music and fun.
All in all, the show was an evening of punk rock ruckus. Check out Less Than Jake next time they come to town for good music that will move your feet and craziness that will make you laugh so hard your stomach hurts.