What’s that? A show in Delaware? I’m sure it’s just some pop country act or a novelty one-hit wonder band. No? It’s a lineup filled with a few of the best acts in the current punk/pop punk scene? Get right out of town!
Alright, cheesy intro over. Delaware jokes never get old though. Listen, I’m doing my best not to offend natives of the first state, but let’s be honest, who comes to Delaware? That’s why when I found out one of my all-time favorite bands were playing a show at The Queen in the rarely visited state, I had to go.
Less Than Jake is a band that has ruled the ska punk scene for almost 3 decades! Not only, are they quickly approaching that 30 year mark but they’ve done it whilst still retaining their signature sound and a majority of their original members. Their up tempo, feel good tunes have allowed them to remain in the hearts of many over the years and, by the end of this show, they pretty much solidified themselves as my favorite band…period. So let’s stop screwing around and let’s get into this review.
Its Friday, February 16th. Hell, I’m giving this bonus points for being a show going into the weekend. Too often am I dreading attending a show simply because I have to work the next morning. So yeah, as I pull into the city of Wilmington, the hype level is over 9000. I’m joined by one of my best buddies, Manny Soto, who you might remember from our “Bowling for Soup” review. After getting felt up by security, hey man I understand the need especially in today’s society, we make our way to the barricade and park it.
The venue itself has changed quite a bit since the last show I attended. Five years prior to this night, I had attended a Reel Big Fish show at the formerly “World Café Live”. At this time the venue was almost restaurant first, concert venue second. Tables and chairs took up half of the dancing space; it looked more like a dinner theatre than a venue. That all being said, that show was great so I expected similar results for the show I was now attended. Fast forward 5 years, the venue has changed hands and is now known as The Queen. While the aesthetic remains the same, the tables and chairs are gone.
It’s 7:10 and the first band takes the stage. It’s Bearings, a pop punk band out of Ottawa, Ontario. Let me start off by being 100% honest, this is a band that 5 years ago I would’ve hated. Their sound is more in tune with the modern day “easy core pretending to be pop punk sound” that ruled the Vans Warped Tour in more recent years. That being said, once I took off my bitter glasses, I found a genre that has a lot to offer and I began to appreciate it. Not all pop punk bands need to have that skate punk influence…and that’s okay. If I can get passed it, so can you. Alright, back to Bearings. These dudes completely destroyed the stage and got a crowd full of “old heads” moving! They put out a new EP last year titled “Nothing Here is Permanent”, and I’ve been listening to it nonstop since the show. If these guys come to a venue near you then you need to go see them. They’re a young group of talented musicians and I look forward to what’s up next as they move forward.
My excitement is building. Anyone that knows me knows how much I love the next band, Direct Hit. Formed in 2007, Direct Hit is a punk band that has gone through multiple changes within the line-up, but retain those fast paced catchy tunes. My first experience with this band is when they released a split with one of my favorite bands, Mixtapes (RIP). Their video for “Werewolf Shame” led to the discovery of one of my current favorite bands that are keeping the scene alive. If you think good punk music is dead, I implore you to check out three bands: Direct Hit, PEARS, and Teenage Bottlerocket. I also swear I’m not a shill for “Far Wreck Chords”, however, I could talk for days about current and past bands on that label. That’s a story for a different time though. Back to the concert, “Fuck you, Get Pumped!” rings out through the crowd and we’re blasted through a roller coaster of fast riffs and the catchiest lyrics in the scene. All members of this band deserve respect and appreciation for continuing to kill it, so I’m just going to list them: Nick Woods (vocalist/guitar), Danny Walkowiak (drums), Devon Kay (guitar/vocals), and Steve Maury (bass/vocals)…I salute you!
Next up is a band that was one of the originators of that “easy core” genre I mentioned above. While that means I should dislike them for influencing the plethora of acts that followed, and masqueraded as “pop punk”, I can’t help but admit that I’ve loved these guys since the beginning. Four Year Strong has remained an unstoppable force in the alternative scene since the release of “Rise or Die Trying” in 2007. On this night, they showed how they’ve held up over the years. The chugs and beards remain, these guys killed it. While I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get to sing along to some of their 90’s cover jams, they played a set that spans their four full length albums. I’ll admit, I bowed out on this band around album 3, “In Some Way, Shape, or Form”. It wasn’t on purpose, I just lost track and found myself listening to other bands. However, if this show made me realize anything, it’s that I need to get back on board with these dudes. Plus, they put out an acoustic record last year that’s totally been my jam since putting it on!
The main event…a band that was born the same year as I…ladies and gentlemen… LESS THAN JAKE! What more can I honestly say about this band that hasn’t been said before?! They’ve been killing it for over 2 and a half decades, and they show no signs of stopping. With 8 full length records, and a ton of EP’s under their belt, they’re a band that has retained their signature sound while also making slight adjustments to stay fresh. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing these guys twice before, and the show never gets old. They have enough tracks under their belt that, while the main tracks remain intact, the setlist changes each time. While I was a bit disappointed to not hear more tracks from my two favorite records, “Losing Streak” and “Hello Rockview”, it was an eclectic mix that spanned their almost 30 year career. From toilet paper laced leaf blowers to beach balls, these guys know how to keep a crowd engaged. Nothing will ever change, if these guys are in your area, that’s where the party will be. They will continue to be one of my favorite bands of all time.
While this tour is just about wrapping up, Less Than Jake is heading out with the boys in Face to Face for a co-headlining spring tour. Be sure to get tickets soon, as shows are already selling out!
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles is an obsessive fan of cinema, pro wrestling, horror, vinyl, and comic books. Bursting from the womb in 1992, Dylan’s surrounded himself with all things geek culture. Earliest memories include Wrestlemania 11, ‘The Death of Superman,’ and Jason Voorhees emerging from the waters of Camp Crystal Lake. You may see him sharing his opinion on just about everything on the internet or maybe even working the crowds at pop culture events up and down the east coast. You love him and he loves you!