Less Than Jake, The Interrupters, and more come to Upstate Concert Hall
By Eli Enis
Nov 11, 2014
Ska-punk veterans, Less Than Jake, made a visit to Upstate Concert Hall on Oct. 24 to play alongside The Interrupters, And We Danced, and Albany locals, Firestarter. Less Than Jake, who formed in 1992, are a household name in the Ska-punk genre, a genre that combines raunchy, 90’s-punk a la Pennywise or Rancid with vibrant trombones, trumpets, and saxophones. Less Than Jake is renowned throughout the punk scene for putting on a wildly hilarious show, and they lived up to that reputation here in the Capital Region.
Firestarter, an up-and-coming Albany four-piece band, started off the night with their brand of straightforward, bouncy pop punk. Given that they’re still a relatively young band their performance wasn’t met with too many die-hard fans or familiar faces. However, their songs seemed to be well-received and by the end of the set they had people moving for them. They also announced midway through their set that they would be shooting a live music video for their song “Forget the Past.” The song gave way to crowd-surfs, pile-ups, and a decent mosh pit after vocalist, Matt LaPerche, got the crowd excited about the camera rolling.
After their set, LaPerche and the rest of the band took a couple minutes to discuss how excited they were to open for Less Than Jake.
“It’s freaking ridiculous,” exclaimed LaPerche.
“It’s mind-blowing and nostalgic,” said bassist Jeff Henlin.
Guitarist Tyler McMullen said that it was crazy to be opening for them because “they’ve been around as long as I have.”
When asked which Less Than Jake album had the most influence on them it was a resounding “Anthem” among the four of them.
“A couple songs from that album were on Tony Hawk’s Underground 2. I wouldn’t be into them if it wasn’t for that game,” said drummer Matt Bliss. It was clear that all four of them were ecstatic to be opening for one of their genre’s forefathers.
Next to take the stage was Minnesota’s And We Dance, who put on an unexpectedly tight performance considering that their name wasn’t even on the official concert bill. A stark contrast to the upbeat Firestarter, And We Danced had more of a bar-rock feel similar to The Gaslight Anthem. However, the tail end of their set did include a couple of punky, Menzingers-esque bangers that led to a good majority of the room furiously nodding their heads. Their stage presence was superb and their energy continued to increase exponentially throughout the set. By the end, And We Danced had raised enough heads to garner a tremendous applause and a rush of people to their merchandise booth.
Los Angeles natives and recent Epitaph Records signees, The Interrupters followed with an absolutely magnificent and vivacious performance of their Rancid-inspired ska-punk. Vocalist, Aimee Interrupter completely owned the stage and her powerful voice was refreshing to hear among the typically male-dominated genre. Songs such as “Take the Power Back” and “A Friend Like Me” were utterly anthemic and extremely easy to sing-along to even without ever hearing them prior to the show. The Interrupters were spot on instrumentally and vocally, and their execution embodied the perfect live performance.
However, despite the three stellar acts that took the stage prior, the evening ultimately and deservingly belonged to Less Than Jake. As soon as the guitars began to ring out, signifying the intro to fan-favorite “Sugar in Your Gas Tank” off of their 1996 release “Losing Streak”, the crowd erupted into a sweaty mess of skanking (a form of two-step dancing unique to ska shows) and sing-alongs. The members of Less Than Jake were consistently hilarious as they incorporated their quick-witted, yet potty-mouthed humor in between their songs. They blurred the lines between a comedy act and a punk band which added a really unique element to their set.
They also frequently interacted with the crowd, shamelessly calling out security guards and attendees who didn’t look like they were having a good time. However, their set entered a whole new level of hilarity when they brought two random people from the crowd on stage and encouraged the two of them to make out by the end of the song. The two ultimately ended up awkwardly pecking each other and the band proceeded to rag on them for “kissing like I would kiss my grandma.”
Even with their outrageous antics and overtly ad-libbed banter between songs, the band was still able to play over 20 tunes from their extensive discography. Their most notable songs, “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads,” “History of a Boring Town,” and “Automatic” received the best crowd reception, but their entire set was met with energy and excitement from the packed room of ska fans.
They closed with a three song encore including a separate encore for the song “Pac Man Cereal.” Earlier in the set they had proudly introduced it as the official theme song for the new General Mills “Pacman Cereal” that will be released next spring. It was the third time that night they delightedly played through the 30 second jingle.
Simply the fact that Less Than Jake are still relevant enough to be featured in cereal commercials is endearing in and of itself. However, the fact that they’re able to stand on stage and laugh about the minuscule royalty checks they received exceeds the definition of heartwarming. Less Than Jake have been making music on a punk rock budget since 1992 and they’re still doing it for the love of the songs. There’s nothing more punk than that.