Less Than Jake @ Mr. Small’s Theatre Millvale, PA
Live Reviews | Apr 29th, 2019
Date: April 12, 2019
Opening Acts: Kali Masi, Punchline, Mest
All Photos Courtesy of Melissa Haslam
Less Than Jake returns to the Pittsburgh area once again for their annual stop and this time they brought along a lineup straight out of 2003…Punchline and Mest with openers Kali Masi.
Kali Masi opened up the night with some punk influenced hard rock that was reminiscent of Against Me and the Gaslight Anthem. While the songs sounded fast and hard, some of them felt like two or three songs strung together. The audience dug them and they did a great job of warming up the ever-growing crowd.
Next up were local Pittsburgh pop punkers Punchline who used to be a staple on nearly every Less Than Jake or Space Pimps show back in the early 2000s. They had a surge in popularity over the years and have continued to tour and release music on their own label. It was obvious that Pittsburgh still dug them as they got a loud ovation and audience participation throughout their set. While not overly familiar with their music, they did throw some old songs into the setlist that I was familiar with on top of mostly newer and slower tracks.
Following up Punchline was the band that is best known for a song called “What’s the Dillio?”…Mest. Hitting their stride in the early 2000s, Mest were one of those bands for me that I heard their song on the radio, listened to now and then and kind of forgot about. I’ve seen them a handful of times in Pittsburgh in my youth and vaguely remember them. Seeing them now with their experience and varied sound caught me off-guard and really made their set more memorable. I didn’t realize that they had such a ska punk influenced and that they could play some really fast and furious punk rock well. They tore through their set and the crowd was definitely reciprocating the energy of the band. They didn’t bother to play “What’s the Dillio?” but that’s ok because they had so many better songs in their catalog.
With the opening bands in the books, Less Than Jake took the stage much to the excitement of a packed venue of sweaty ska punk fans. The band said to expect lots of older tracks and setlist rarities throughout the night and then they kicked things off with “Sugar In Your Gas Tank”. They weren’t kidding. They mixed in some setlist staples such as “She’s Gonna Break Soon”, “Plastic Cup Politics” and “The Science of Selling Yourself Short” with some deep cuts that I can’t even remember the last time that I saw them play live like “Krazy Glue”, “Shinto” and “Landmines and Landslides”. They also included one of my favorite songs in “Whatever the Weather” from their excellent recent EP release “Sound the Alarm”.
As with every Less Than Jake show, they talk about their fond memories of playing Pittsburgh, they mentioned Club Laga and the Metropol as well as a story about them in their early days playing Pittsburgh and it was one of their first large turnouts and it’s the reason that they keep coming back to the Burgh…because the fans here have always supported them. Then they asked the fans to support them once again and make a big-ass circle pit. The audience was more than happy to oblige and a few bloody noses and crushed toes were imminent.
Closing out the night, Less Than Jake prepared their encore with some classic hits in “Nervous In the Alley”, “Gainesville Rock City” and “Last One Out of Liberty City”. The crowd went haywire for the last ten minutes of Less Than Jake until they hit the town the next time around. Overall, it was one of the best LTJ sets that I’ve seen in some time. They weren’t promoting an album or any particular release and they didn’t have the Wheel of Albums with them this time to select nothing but tracks from “Anthem” so they definitely had the opportunity to provide a diverse setlist from their catalog and they didn’t disappoint. I still can’t remember the last time I heard them play “Krazy Glue” and it was glorious!
Less Than Jake capped off a night of great music that introduced me to a new band, re-introduced me to a couple of other bands from my younger concert-going days and provided me with one of the most fun and enjoyable Less Than Jake sets in recent memory…and that is an amazing feat unto its own.
Less Than Jake