Less Than Jake – House of Blues

Concert review by Chris Graue 

Going to a show at the House of Blues in Anaheim is always something of an alien experience. Smack in the middle of Downtown Disney, the setting hardly prepares one for what is about to happen. Typically there is a drive through a sketchy neighborhood, a couple homeless guys, and a smattering of the unseemly types that will be joining you for the occasion. At Disney, however, one is simply greeted by hoards of children, tourists, and the ever present wafts of day old sunscreen applications. Unfitting, perhaps, but probably preferable to the typical scent usually comprised of unwashed derelicts, urine, and puke-cohol. Spell check assures me that’s not a word, but I’m fairly certain you all catch my meaning.

Homo erotic Lego Buzz and Woody helped a little bit.

For some reason, the house the mouse built lets us come out and do our thing anyway, and for the we thank them. In the future, however, we would ask that they post the correct start times on their site. The band Ms. Skannotto probably would have appreciated having more than the 20 or so people who were accidentally early enough to see them in attendance. Shame too, what I did hear sounded good, despite the obnoxiously ska punny name. Skawesome job with what you had to work with though, guys, you really skaed your skas out in the face of skadversity.

Remember when ska kids were like smurfs?

Bands like Less Than Jake have a certain crossover appeal within the genre. Pop ska kids love ’em, and so do the crust punk ska kids. While no one minds standing next to someone dressed a little different at the show, the culture clash rises to a fever pitch in and around the pit. Your typical ska-pop kid wants to skank and be friendly while your standard crust will beat his way backwards against the flow, laying waste to those who dare cross his path. Neither is wrong in their approach, but these conflicting ideals do cause both sides to bitch about the other.

Flatfoot 56 was an excellent piece of the lineup. Celtic punk belongs at most shows, in my opinion, but here in particular they made a great fit in appealing to both sets of fans. The punk fans dug the punk, the ska kids could get on board with the fact that a bagpiper was wearing a kilt on stage. Done and done. Any animosity arising from mosh pit etiquette was washed away as the entire crowd sang along to Flatfoot’s rendition of the old

Christian spiritual I’ll Fly Away. It will be left to the readers to weigh the irony and the beauty of this against each other.

I don’t think it’s possible to dislike the Mad Caddies. They write some of the most interesting and complex music in ska today performed flawlessly every time. That said, they’re not the most exciting band to watch. Nobody moves much or really puts on much of a show, if you will. With such an overwhelming sound, though, try and let this bother you. If it does, you’re not dancing enough and deserve to have a bad time.

I’m not sure what the max capacity of the House of Blues is, but during Less Than Jake’s set, I’ll be surprised if it wasn’t damn near reached. Even without the qualifier “for a Tuesday night,” this place went off. Front men Chris and Roger even seemed to notice, lighting up in response to the powerful reaction they were getting out of the audience. Over the past 20 years, these guys have really nailed how to blend new songs and old hits to keep the crowd going. They did seem surprised when Dopeman beat Al’s War in their audience request poll. Perhaps they don’t think they play it as well as the Beastie Boys remixed it?

Regardless, it was a great show all around. My personal favorite moment was the head banging contest between Coheed and Cambria Guy and Fat Joey Ramone that LTJ hosted. I think they may have called it a tie, but in the end, everyone in attendance won. Except the guy who got beer on my camera. That guy sucks.

Less Than Jake is currently on tour, go to www.lessthanjake.com or their social media pages such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter for details. You can find their music in stores now and at iTunes as well as other online outlets.

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