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Less Than Jake / Catch 22

Less Than Jake / Catch 22: live in Farmingdalelive in Farmingdale (2006)
Warner Music Group

Reviewer Rating: 4


Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)

With a stop in Long Island, NY, a promise of a plethora of older material and pretty solid openers in the Loved Ones and New Mexican Disaster Squad, I figured it would be worth finally seeing Less Than Jake in the club setting for the first time on their current Outcasts and Idiots Tour. This was fo.


With a stop in Long Island, NY, a promise of a plethora of older material and pretty solid openers in the Loved Ones and New Mexican Disaster Squad, I figured it would be worth finally seeing Less Than Jake in the club setting for the first time on their current Outcasts and Idiots Tour. This was following watching their stints on the gigantic stages of Warped Tour both this past summer and in 2003, so the intimacy would be refreshing if nothing else.

But first, I'd finally get to see New Mexican Disaster Squad live. Earlier this year my friend decided some ace Brooklyn pizza with me and his girlfriend would be worth strolling in late into a Knitting Factory basement show that included Crime in Stereo, NMDS, and Marathon's last show in New York City all prior to None More Black. I arrived during the end of Marathon's last song; the pizza was good, but not that good. Nearly 3 years ago they opened Fat's 2004 Tour, and with my driver commanding little experience making the drive to Boston from Providence, I missed them there.

However, arriving nice and timely to the cringeworthily named Crazy Donkey guaranteed us nice spots up front for the band's semi-melodic update on `80s hardcore punk. The band made more sense in this setting than you'd think -- their sound is hard and fast, but it's not *that* abrasive, with more thought put into some tempo changes and pure punk rock bases. They opened with the title track off their new album, Don't Believe, which contains some fairly ambitious songwriting considering the genre -- though there's one riff they use that sounds an awful lot like "Start Today." I glanced back several times during the set to actually see an impressive circle pit of kids, which came to be a sporadic activity during that timeframe. Other bones chewed on from the album included the stellar "The Piggy Bank's Gone, Nick!," "Tightrope," and "Coughing Up Blood" probably among a few others. The first 2 tracks off 2003's self-titled LP, "You're Incorrect" and "Vultures" were well-received by your reviewer too. I can't be certain if anything was played off 2002's Abrasive Repulsive Disorder.

Mid-set they delivered the unfortunate news that the Loved Ones would not be playing, striking me as a strange bit considering I'd seen a healthy looking Spider lingering in the parking lot before. Apparently frontman Dave Hause couldn't make a solo venture back to the venue due to a sold out train schedule. NMDS made up for their message of disappointment with a fairly impressive cover of "Minor Threat." If more than 2 people knew it, including myself, they hid it well.

This meant Catch 22 was directly next. These days it's rare when I'm found listening to ska-punk, but when I am chances are good 1998's Keasbey Nights is in the player. I actually think 2000's Alone in a Crowd is pretty decent, with the 2001 B-sides/rarities holdover Washed Up and Through the Ringer! a moderately enjoyable affair too. But I found myself sort of apathetic about the band after one listen of 2003's Dinosaur Sounds (a number that remains to this day), and their confusing new album, Permanent Revolution is a small step up but still mediocre at best. Obviously, I was a little skeptic, and this from someone well above the status of a casual fan of the band circa 2001/2002. It wasn't a terrible set, though -- I plain freaked with the execution of "9mm and a Three Piece Suit" and the crowd certainly gave the biggest response for "Keasbey Nights." Crowd reaction was terribly inconsistent, as well; it seemed the mix of fans new, old, and casual was rather even. The material played from the last 2 albums didn't bother me deeply ("The Spark (1902)" is a damn solid roots song), but certain songs it was pretty hard to get amped. They weren't entirely sloppy, as the criticism usually goes, but that may be due to my greater concerns with how many of their newer songs are simply bland. Really, not a bad set in all, and that's even with a mere 2 Keasbey Nights songs in a 13-song set list -- though the meh-worthy reggae song didn't really take things out in a most fantastic fashion.

Set list (ordered):

  • A Minor Point (1922)
  • Intro / Point the Blame
  • Sincerely Yours
  • The Decemberists' Song (1921)
  • It Takes Some Time
  • The Spark (1902)
  • Wine Stained Lips
  • Keasbey Nights
  • title n/a
  • Chin Up
  • 9mm and a Three Piece Suit
  • The Purge (1936)
  • reggae song, title n/a
Less Than Jake said it best -- "Thanks for hanging out and being nostalgic with a mid-`90s ska-punk band." A set list consisting of songs from (nearly) every proper full-length Less Than Jake has recorded made for a most surprisingly enjoyable, 21-song set, especially since it was heavy on 1996's Losing Streak and 1998's Hello Rockview. Sure, their new album is pretty much atrocious and traumatizing, but leaning on those 2 efforts made for a great time.

As previously mentioned, the band has brought a spinning "Wheel of Fortune" type device on tour with them, containing 16 sections marked with possible songs for the band to play. After launching into a solid 4-song opening, the band began the wheel spinning and managed to play a wide breadth of classics, which included "Sugar in Your Gas Tank," "Soundcheck," "Faction," "Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts," "9th at Pine," and "Dopeman" among many, many others. We were close to getting "Liquor Store" and "My Very Own Flag," but to no avail -- a minor disappointment.

The band played admirably tight, but I have to say, one of the horn player's backup vocals on 2 songs were absolutely awful. Both would've been way, way better without him. The horn players only looked awkward for several of the songs in which they had no real duties -- those songs being the ones off In with the Out Crowd, obviously.

Really, it's all about the entertainment too. They essentially forced one member of the audience, a short, nerdy high school junior with a freakishly large afro to sit on the stage with the band for the majority of the set, teasing him much of the way. The kid, Josh, often responded with a shy, embarrassed smile as expected.

While I abhor costume changes, the band did it subtly through the wearing of various wacky hats and such -- a Pope hat and a "rape--I mean hunter mask" among others. Silly, sure, but it was an aesthetic that fit them well.

It also seems the band has gotten to that type of "NOFX" status -- the long-time punks mentioned Losing Streak as their best album, and in all likelihood, they probably aren't joking about that belief.

With plenty of energy and excitedment, cannons erupting confetti atop the audience at various points (and toilet paper guns at the climaxing end), and a 4-song encore following a set that fulfilled basically many old-school fan's needs, Less Than Jake well surpassed my expectations. Even with the few iffy cuts from their new album the band essentially "had" to play, I enjoyed myself much more than expected and couldn't have asked for much more. Most any Less Than Jake fan should enjoy themselves on this tour.

Set list (ordered/accurate):
  • All My Best Friends Are Metalheads
  • Overrated (Everything Is)
  • Ghosts of You and Me
  • Automatic
  • Wheel spun for majority of rest of set:
  • Sugar in Your Gas Tank
  • Great American Sharpshooter
  • Soundman/Soundcheck
  • Faction
  • 9th at Pine
  • Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts
  • Nervous in the Alley
  • Dopeman
  • P.S. Shock the World
  • Plastic Cup Politics
  • Scott Farcas Takes It on the Chin
  • Al's War
  • Last One Out of Liberty City
  • Encore:
  • The Rest of My Life
  • Gainesville Rock City
  • Just Like Frank [in response to loud crowd requests]
  • The Science of Selling Yourself Short
Breakdown:
  • Pezcore: 1 (in the sense of "Johnny Quest" overlapping with LS)
  • Losers, Kings, and Things We Don't Understand: 1
  • Losing Streak: 6
  • Hello Rockview: 6
  • Borders & Boundaries: 2
  • Anthem: 3
  • In with the Out Crowd: 3

     

 
People who liked this also liked:
Against Me! - As The Eternal CowboyThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!No Trigger - CanyoneerAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldThe Clash - London CallingOperation Ivy - Operation IvyBouncing Souls - The Gold RecordRefused - The Shape of Punk to ComeThe Ataris - So Long, Astoria

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (October 4, 2006)

(score is for the setlist, didnt actually see this gig)

i gotta say, i fucking love everything LTJ have done so far, including IWTOC, (tbh, the only really shite song on there is "hopeless case" and i LOVE "ps shock the world").

i think borders and boundaries tends to get ignored a lot, which is unfair, as its a solid album. probably because most people rave about the early stuff, up to HR, and then bash everything from anthem onwards, BAB tends to get ignored a bit.

either way, i'd have killed several people to get to this tour!!!

i-type-poorly (October 3, 2006)

Also, they took the wheel thing from Rocket From The Crypt. I'm not saying that is a bad thing, just throwing that detail out there.

i-type-poorly (October 3, 2006)

The "Hey, we were pretty good ten years ago." tour.

stevieblackkk (October 3, 2006)

SYG over NMDS? Sorry dude, but SYG have NOTHING on NMDS. SYG is decent, but I really see them as hardcore for kids that don't like real hardcore. And I've heard from a few credible sources that they are absolutely terrible live.

Saw SYG last night and they were great. Absolutely killed it.

GreatStoryOfApathy (October 3, 2006)

New Mexican Disaster Squad killed. They played Born and Razed off of Abrasive, and it was awesome. I was in the circle pit, which was only started because of one fan in an Unseen shirt and backpack running through the dead crowd. I also knew the Minor Threat song.

The reggae Catch 22 song was Opporutinity, off the new cd, and I believe they played Prologue.

Less Than Jake were amazing. I've seen them four times, and this was the best time. I recommend seeing them on this tour if you ever want to see them.

BANGARANG (October 3, 2006)

i pretty happy to see that the majority of less than jake's set list is from their older stuff. hello rockview is their best album. its a fuckin fact.

this was a good idea for them to do this, they almost earn a little respect.

sprainedsoul (October 3, 2006)

Bit of a stretch to call In With the Out Crowd "torturous". "Don't Fall Asleep on the Subway" is a great live song as his "Let Her Go". Sure, it has some clunkers, but I think time is going to be much kinder to that record than many of the "fans" have been.

sickboi (October 3, 2006)

Scott, I didn't say your opinion was bullshit. Just countering your opinion with mine. Christ, you should know me by now.

Mutiny is a decent album, but the nasily vocals just get on my nerves after a while. And do they have 2 singers that don't play an instrument? What the shit is that? At least Bell Biv Devoe could dance...

inagreendase (October 3, 2006)

Set Your Goals is always more than solid live. I like NMDS, but I definitely prefer SYG -- NMDS isn't necessarily the best band currently playing `80s hardcore, while SYG is definitely the best band playing melodic hardcore-infused pop-punk right now.

american_666_jesus (October 3, 2006)

I just saw them last night myself. Very similar set list, but they did play One Last Cigarette which pleased me extensively. I would have liked to seen Just Like Frank. Like the guy below me, it was depressing being one of the oldest people at the show.

maverick (October 3, 2006)

SYG over NMDS? Sorry dude, but SYG have NOTHING on NMDS. SYG is decent, but I really see them as hardcore for kids that don't like real hardcore. And I've heard from a few credible sources that they are absolutely terrible live.

To quote John Cusack in High Fidelity, how can it be bullshit to state a preference? I like one band more than the other. The end. And when I saw SYG live with Ignite a few months ago, they were just fine.

-Scott

sickboi (October 3, 2006)

Getting way stoked for the Cleveland show next Monday -- plus we get Set Your Goals instead of NMDS, too, so that makes it even better.

However, I can't believe that people think Losing Streak is better than Hello Rockview. They're both great, but HR is definitely the A of Less Than Jake's catalog.

-Scott


SYG over NMDS? Sorry dude, but SYG have NOTHING on NMDS. SYG is decent, but I really see them as hardcore for kids that don't like real hardcore. And I've heard from a few credible sources that they are absolutely terrible live.

joeg (October 3, 2006)

i back less than jake on thinking losing streak is better than hello rockview. better songwriting and not as overproduced.

and i just saw this show last night. i think i was about the 10th oldest person in that entire venue and that's counting the 4 bouncers. that was depressing. but it was a pretty good setlist similar to this one.

Anonymous (October 3, 2006)

they played al's war? my fav song from their catalog by far and i've never seen them play it live....no fair!

Anonymous (October 3, 2006)

Losing Streak just had that special something. A ton of arguments could be made that Hello Rockview is a more cohesive and varied album than Losing Streak, but the songs on Losing Streak were just better. That you "can't believe" people think Losing Streak is better is surprising, considering that it's almost universally considered the superior album.

maverick (October 3, 2006)

Getting way stoked for the Cleveland show next Monday -- plus we get Set Your Goals instead of NMDS, too, so that makes it even better.

However, I can't believe that people think Losing Streak is better than Hello Rockview. They're both great, but HR is definitely the A of Less Than Jake's catalog.

-Scott

Anonymous (October 3, 2006)

I'm guessing that "In With The Out Crowd" will be their last try at mainstream super-stardom, and now they'll get down to playing fun punk again.

One more prediction: no matter what label they put the next CD out on, Bill Stevenson will produce.

--Cos

onegirlarmy (October 3, 2006)

Good review. We got Liquor Store at the NYC show which was awesome. For the most part, the set we got was the same and they spun the wheel as well.

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