CONCERT REVIEW: Less Than Jake Rocked The Waiting Room

Dean Birkheimer

Less Than Jake at The Waiting Room. Photo credit: Dean Birkheimer.

Whatever your perception of Punk Rock is, it was performed live at The Waiting Room in Omaha, Nebraska on October 8th.

Punk Rock band Protagonist who formed in 1999 in Boca Raton, Florida kicked things off with their fast and energetic style. From the first song “Let’s get it” to the last song “Light the Fuse”, these guys gave us everything they had to give. I suppose the opening bands job is to “warm” the crowd up, but by the time they walked off stage, we were sweltering.  These five fellas, Peter and John Marullo, Brian Forst, Kyle MacDougall and Jeff Berman might be the best punk band you’ve never heard of.  They have tight musical language which comes from years of performing together.  Their commitment to their music is inspiring.  It’s hard to imagine a “punk” band doing a better job.

Protagonist Set List:
Let’s get it – States – Hideaway – Destination Desolation – I am the Ghost – Jean Jackets in June – Light the Fuse.

Ok, I’m going to admit it.  I’ve never heard of Red City Radio.  Before they took the stage I admitted as much to a couple of guys who were up front with me.  They told me I was in for a treat.  Not only was I treated to amazing music, showmanship and who may be the best singer in punk rock, I was also very upset with myself for not knowing this band sooner.  Garrett Dale’s vocals are simply stunning.  Raspy and Soulful. This guy could be a “sittin’ on the dock of the bay” kinda singer if he chose to.  Thankfully he doesn’t choose to.  At least for now.   They began their incredible set with “Two out of three ain’t Rad”.  “The world is way too big for you to think so small,  you gotta walk tall or, don’t walk at all.  Awesome Lines  “if you want Blood” which feels like an ode to their home town Oklahoma City was next, following that was “Rest Easy”.  By now the crowd was having a fit.  This band has a way of making sure you not only enjoy what they are doing, but you are paying attention to what they are doing.  “Electricity” began and that was it. Full fledge crowd frenzy time.  Fast song with GREAT and I mean GREAT guitars.  Garrett obviously spent many a night with his Gibson. “Rebels” and “Two for Flinching” were next and these songs made sure the audience stayed alert and in tune with the band.  With “Pretend Kings” and “Joy Comes with the Morning” we were treated to the band at their best.  Perfectly structured songs, sung perfectly, with perfect instrumentation and harmonizing.  With “In the Meantime” I thought, finally they are slowing it down.  Nope, WRONG!! I was duped into thinking I could take a breath. How wrong was I. This was not only fast, but the fastest song of the night.  This is one of those self-concussion songs.  The one where you’re slamming you brain into your skull and you really don’t care.  This band and this set were ridiculously incredible. The band members are Garrett Dale (vocals and lead guitar), Ryan Donovan (Guitar and vocals), Jonathan Knight (Bass and vocals) and Dallas Tidwell (Drum and vocals). Notice how all four get vocal credit. They are what they are because of who they are and what they do, they all participate and if even one set of vocals is missing, it becomes a different band.  I want to say thanks to Jonathan especially.  I was up front and doing my clicking away thing with my camera. After the show, I apologized for sticking my camera in his face so often and he told me that it was not a problem and not to sweat it.  The only sweating I was doing was the uncontrollable moving he and his band mates had me doing.  SEE THIS BAND ASAP!!

If you’re familiar with the Vans Warped Tour then you’re familiar with Less Than Jake.   Chris DeMakes, Roger Lima, Vinnier Fiorello, Buddy Schaub and Peter Wailewksi are the current members who formed in 1992 and have done twelve of those Warped Tours.  The Gainsville, Florida band (I’m slipping in a GO DAWGS here) put on one hell of a live show.  I saw them a few years back at the Sokol Auditorium when Reel Big Fish opened for them.  Matter of fact, I saw quite a few of that shows t-shirts in the crowd.  In keeping with the “never wear a t-shirt of the band your seeing rule” I was sporting an Agrolites shirt.” Yeah, I’m cool that way.  Any hoots….like I was saying this band puts on one hell of a live show.  Balloons, toilet paper, and characters in mascot type suits.  Even if none of those extras existed they would still put on one hell of show as they are incredibly talented musicians/artists.  Less Than Jake who are known for their sing-a-long anthems as much as any other band out there are always providing their audience with a good time.  Whether it’s a demand to create a counter-clockwise mosh pit, or an order to “smoke em if you got em”, this band knows how to keep a crowd entertained.  Before the show I spotted a husband and wife who had brought their two daughters with them.  The daughters appeared to be in the 9 to 10 year old range.  I asked the father why he brought his two little girls to this show and he said he wanted to make sure their taste in music started out right and that they were already big fans of the band.  The show consisted of an 18 song set list which was kicked off with “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads,” and “Sugar In Your Gas Tank”.  Only two songs in and the pit was furious, but friendly.  When Roger Lima plucked his bass strings and intro’d “Dopeman” the venue began to rattle.  A plethora of songs followed including newer songs like “Bombdrop” from their January released album “Sound the Alarm.”  They closed their set with “The Science of Selling Yourself Short” and “Ghosts of You and Me”.  I’m sure most of you know there is a certain smell that comes from a well formed and organized mosh pit and this odor was prevalent during the LTJ show.  The army of Less Than Jake fans covered the floor and got into all the classics like “Johnny Quest Thinks we’re Sellouts.” They are 25 years into this and to their credit they still bound across the stage with the exuberance of a teenager.  Demakes, has not lost his ability to spit out a humorous anecdote or two.  Buddy “Goldfinger” Schaub races from stage end to stage end as if he running basketball drills.  He is non-stop and I was exhausted just watching him. Their set featured punk songs with SKA horns”.  Overall this show rates high on my list of best shows in Omaha. It was three really superb bands, a great venue and a well behaved crowd. I left knowing that I had seen a true rock show.

Less than Jake Set List: (excuse the abbreviations, but you know the songs)
Metalheads – Sugar – Liberty – Dopeman – Quest – Five State – Look – Good Enough – Automatic – Overrated – Bombdrop – PS Shock – Pizzeria – Al’s War – Doug Hastings – Plastic Cup – Science – Ghosts.

– Dean Birkheimer

Protagonist

Red City Radio

Less Than Jake

Photos courtesy of © 2017 Dean Birkheimer.


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