I've been a Less Than Jake fan for something like 7 years now. Ever since I first heard their track on The Spawn of Skarmageddon I fell in love. Over the years, my musical tastes have changed and grown, but LTJ has stayed a constant disc turner. Even after my extreme disappointment with their latest studio effort, Anthem, I was looking forward to their live show, and their set at the Warped Tour had me prepared for the best on this night. Sadly, I was to be disappointed. But before I get to the Floridians in questions, lets talk a bit about the opening acts.
Punchline came out to "rock us" first. Apparently they forgot their rock at home, and decided just to suck. A lot. Boring, repetitive pop punk that sufficiently bored me to tears. They weren't helped by a sound system that sounded like it was on it's last leg. In fact, the sound system plagued all three openers during the night. Fallout Boy came up next. Wow. They suck. I was prepared for this, as it seems that LTJ often times picks bands that I would not have allowed to be within ten blocks of them, let alone share the stage as openers. However, FOB is on Fueled by Ramen, Vinnie's label, so it stands to reason. All I can say is that they are really really boring.
I'd rather not dwell on either of these bands, mainly because they weren't the reason why I went, and their style overall just isn't my cup of tea. I thought they sucked, but many other teenyboppers there seemed to enjoy themselves.
Now, the opener that we all waited for. RUFIO!
Okay, not really. As I'm sure you heard, Rufio suffered a huge loss and pulled off the tour so that they could recover. My apologies and sympathy extend to the band, but I can say that I was happy they weren't there that night. Because we got TOMMY TUTONE instead. Yes, Mr. 867 5309 himself. It was, well, exactly what you'd expect. He opened with 867-5309 (Jenny) and closed with it as well. His set contained a ton of songs that no one had heard, except the aforementioned hit, and his cover of Cat Stevens' "Wild World". However, his set was much more enjoyable, and his stage presence was far greater and more impressive than either of the two bands preceding him. It was fun, but overall the set was a bit too long, I could have dealt with less material from someone who I'm sure will drop back into VH1 obscurity right after the tour.
Now the main event. They took the stage and busted into something off of Anthem. This did not bode well, because try as hard as I can, I just don't "feel" the record and it carries through to their live show. This would be the theme of the night as well.
All in all, their set was composed of pretty good songs. Standouts include Look What Happened, Dopeman (word), Laverne and Shirley, Sugar in Your Gastank, The Ghosts of Me and You, All My Best Friends are Metalheads, and the other essentials in the Less Than Jake arsenal. Walking away, the only song whose omission I was curious about was Never Going Back to New Jersey, as Philly is the closest NJ show they played, and it's where I live now. With these songs played, I thought I'd come away feeling pretty good about the show. But there's just something missing. Normally, a Less Than Jake show is energy, start to finish. There's no letting up, from the crowd or from the band, but there were times in the night where I felt like all of the energy had just completely disappeared, like when they played Escape from the A-Bomb House. It's just weird to feel bored at a LTJ show. It shouldn't happen.
Another thing that shouldn't happen is getting annoyed at them. Chris was in rare form, pulling his normal "Roger's a hippy, I hate him" schtick. But it seemed a) forced, and b) real, once he and Roger got into what seemed like a real fight. It was pretty annoying. Vinnie kept trying to start songs, but Chris kept on blabbing away. I've seen this before, and I don't think anyone wants to see this band go the way of Reel Big Fish.
They closed the night with The Brightest Bulb Has Burned Out and Screws Fall Out. Overall, this song was performed the best of any of the new songs all night. Well, the first half was. During the second "energetic" half, I just got bored.
Overall, the night wasn't a total flop. It's Less Than Jake, so a bad night for them is still a better night than most bands will ever have (including Punchline and Fallout Boy). Sadly, my indifference to the new songs isn't just due to the questionable production value on Anthem, but has to do with the songs themselves, as evidenced by their lackluster effect on me. After 11 years of LTJ, and 7 years of me listening to them, I can't say that this surprises me, but LTJ's live shows have been one of my favorite activities for a long time. It's sad to say that I came away feeling a little less than fulfilled. Regardless of my apprehensions, I still advise all fans to go see this show.