Show Review

Less Than Jake @ Agora 2/11/17

                                                                                                                                                                                                              (Minch/2017)
Morgan Minch

​Less Than Jake just released their new EP, Sound the Alarm this month, which adds seven tracks adding to their vast domain of resolute, energized stories. Less Than Jake have been exciting crowds for over two decades, holding fast to their emotive, liberated sound.
 
I pushed into the lofty dark caverns of the Agora to a scene of bustling hoodies.  I grabbed a beer and sank into the theater. Catching the opener Bunny Gang delivered me to the islands. Any islands, really. Their soft reggae-rock drifted my senses away for a bit.
 
Fathers and sons, high-school and college kids whooped as Less Than Jake blasted into "All My Best Friends Are Metalheads." These lyrics are poetic, but bob vigorously to a searching rhythm framed with raging horns. Their music is so expressionist to me, but contrarily layered and clear. Next was "Sugar in Your Gas Tank" from the album Losing Streak. I was taken to a montage from Clueless- the rumbling drums and howling horns evoked that brand of 90s moxie.
 
I love how as the night blew onward, Less Than Jake had a good old time with the fans, making fun of us, and sometimes mocking themselves. The trombonist, Buddy Schaub, was slow-running around the stage, cheering his mates on as they played, and coaxing the audience to mosh, which was a beautiful, flowing thing to look down on.
 
The band played much of their older music, voicing their love for the old fans who paid too much for seats tonight. Too cheeky! Chris DeMakes, the guitarist and lead singer, joked that the old stuff was written “Back when I was as sexy as the guys from Fall Out Boy.”
 
"The Rest of My Life," a reverie of sorts, had the saxophonist Peter Wasilewski holding his heart as he sang. A cool thing happened at the climax- Buddy held the bass out as Roger ran through the guitar’s strap and, with a fluid motion, started strumming. The band is almost whimsical—I tried my best to get an interview with them, but I feel like seeing them live imparts with me all I would need to know. They love  seeing their fans happy and playing with us. Balloons, toilet paper, confetti, and beer spray are shot in all directions over the jumping people.
 
The volcanic rumbles of "P.S. Shock the World" was the bed for calling, doleful voices as the horns spiraled into a demonic trance in the middle, something I don’t remember hearing before. "My Very Own Flag," from their first record, Pezcore, is a crowd-pleaser for sure. Everyone starts singing on the “whoa-oh-oh” during the bridge. "Plastic Cup Politics" finishes the night off with a battery pack of reggae and punk syncopated rhythms. 

And thankfully, an encore happened that completely satisfied, led by "The Science of Selling Yourself Short," sung mostly by the shining voice of Roger the bassist.