Less Than Jake proved Saturday night that after 25 years together, they still have what it takes to light up a packed venue like the Warfield. They shared the headline billing with reggae rockers Pepper, and were preceded by openers Kash’d Out and Red City Radio.
The ska-punk quintet hit the stage in a flurry of confetti and engaged old-school fans right away with a string of ‘90s favorites. They opened with, “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads,” and “Last One Out of Liberty City,” from their 1998 record Hello Rockview, as well as “Sugar in Your Gas Tank,” from 1996’s Losing Streak.
By the time bassist Roger Lima introduced LTJ’s fourth song, “Dopeman,” off Losing Streak, the fog of marijuana smoke was thick enough to give anyone not already lighting up a contact high.
“This song goes out to people that used to buy marijuana before dispensaries,” he said. “You had to use a payphone or a beeper; it was a big pain in the ass.”
They later offered up songs from more recent records, including “Bomb Drop,” from the upcoming Sound the Alarm, but to much of the crowd’s delight, over half of their 16-song setlist was composed of songs released before George W. Bush took office.
Amid balloons falling from the ceiling, and roadies TPing the audience with mechanized toilet-paper guns, Less Than Jake looked like five guys who still love what they do for a living. When Buddy Schaub and JR Wasilewski weren’t rocking out on the trombone and the saxophone, they were energizing the crowd, coaxing them to clap and sing along to every word.
“Thanks for supporting this kind of music, still,” guitarist Chris DeMakes said. “I know it’s hard to see with all the botox and hair dye on the fuckin’ stage, but we’ve been in this for 25 years.”
The aging that comes with the kind of longevity LTJ has enjoyed was not lost on the band, and there was much good-natured ribbing during their set on not only their own ages, but that of their fans.
DeMakes asked how many fans sitting in the balcony were over 30, to which he received a balcony full of guiltily raised hands. He went on to ask a member of the press photographing the show, “Is there any type of fucking lens or photoshop that you can do to make me look 15 years younger?”
Self-deprecation aside, if their Warfield performance is any indication, LTJ appears to be weathering the sands of time just fine.
Pepper closed out the show, thrilling the other half of the crowd that turned out Saturday night as many LTJ fans wandered to the bar or slunk out of the venue.
The Hawaiian three-piece induced a more mellow vibe with happy-go-lucky reggae beats, though arguably that could’ve been the night’s third wave of puff-puff-pass that their entrance incited.
They captivated fans from start to finish with their signature blend of reggae rock, offering up a range of songs from those you’d expect to hear at the beach, to others that sounded ripe for a club setting.
The trio, who wore sunglasses throughout their performance, made mention of a 10th anniversary vinyl in the works, to which the crowd gave a roar of approval.
But the biggest highlight of the set was when Pepper invited members of opening band Kash’d Out to join in on vocals and guitars for their catchy sing-along song, “Fuck Around (All Night).”
Fans of both bands got what they came for Saturday night at the Warfield, they just happened to be two very different things.