Ska bands really walk a thin line with how much of assholes they can be and how bad a crowd they draw. Streetlight is a little cynical, Reel Big Fish draws awful crowds, but Less Than Jake kind of took from both and I really did not anticipate that going in. The first couple of bands they had open for them were punk and did not have the largest fan bases. I spent most of the first band wandering the Georgia Theater and checking it out and the second avoiding the bands hype man, dressed as a police officer who was running around the sparse crowd trying to make people dance. The second band did have cool, colorful ski masks but that was about it.
When Anti Flag came on though, I became intrigued to see how much I would like their set. I had seen a little of them at Warped Tour the summer before and had enjoyed them but that was when they had a sea of their own fans. Tonight, I really wasn’t sure who people were here for more but no one seemed like they would be turning up especially hard either way. It turned out to be awesome and Anti Flag had a great energy even though there were so few people there. They even had this ten-year-old kid lead the circle pit for one song and the feeling of punk camaraderie was very evident. The thing I had forgotten about Anti Flag was how political they could be and it sent chills down my spine with the way they were talking about loving everyone equally and that discriminating by race, class or sex was the dumbest thing in the world. I love hearing bands preach a good message and whether some of these southerners enjoyed hearing those sentiments, Anti Flag did not care and stayed true to their beliefs. The music overall was ok but their cover of “Should I Stay or Should I Go” was awesome and it set up the drummer bringing his set into the crowd which was something different for me but something I enjoyed quite a lot.
Sadly Less Than Jake was quite the opposite kind of band. They acted arrogant and like dicks on stage, calling out crowd members and acting like they deserved even more applause every time the crowd would clap. Their music was fun I guess, but they played less songs that I could recognize than I anticipated and they insisted on playing songs off their new album and acted like ass holes about it, complaining that no one had even bought it and so were going to play it anyway. This was also my first contact based show since Lil B and that alone was kind of a shock for me. It seemed that some people in the mosh just wanted to hit as hard as they could and for the first time in my concert going life I let my mosh rage take control of me and I went in trying to knock down one of the worst perpetrators. I immediately felt guilty though and backed off and observed the rest of the show just standing.
They did play some songs off of Anthem and those easily were the best of the night. When they played “The Science of Selling Yourself Short” though, they started complaining again about how they hated the song and that kind of took some of the fun out of it for me, which was a huge disappointment. Through all of this negativity, I did find myself skanking a lot and had a good time doing that. Even if some people just took it as an invitation to mosh more, I enjoyed focusing on my style and really trying to feel the beat.
There were some extremely disappointing moments to this show, but in the end, as Dead End Hip Hop says, if a show can make you want to go listen to the artist the next day, something went right and I did find myself playing a few Less Than Jake songs the next day. I love ska and those few moments when I knew the lyrics and was able to dance made the rest of the show worth it. It was not my favorite show by any means but it was not as bad as I think I made it sound.