02.17.2012 Less Than Jake at Trocadero, Philadelphia

Just in case you were entertaining any doubts, here’s a little more proof there’s no justice in this life: Less Than Jake filled the Trocadero to near capacity. I don’t know what it is about these guys, but they throw a wide net and have managed to pull in a large audience for the last twenty years. What makes it even more mind boggling is their poor work ethic and generally mediocre sound. That last little fact I give you, the one about them being a band for over twenty years is a direct reference from the band, because they said it about a dozen times last night during the set. It was a really odd performance, and I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like it because the band would play a song, maybe two but never more than three in a row before they would take a good five or ten minutes to verbally dither. I found myself screaming from the audience, time and again, “Shut the fuck up and play some music!” But it seemed I was the only one disturbed by this.
To Less Than Jake’s credit, they played a two hour set, but at the same time you would think a band with twenty years experience would have plenty of material to choose from and not resort to the working musician’s trick of blathering to fill up the time.
I personally thought the entire show was filler, even the pit seemed more like a ritual than a thrashing expression of frustration. So, I took advantage of this time to talk to the audience about what it was they saw in Less Than Jake. I was open and honest about not really caring for the music, and got a lot of laughs when relating I only covered it in the first place because I thought they were Jimmy Eat World.
Philly native Ben Bergin even agreed with me that LTJ wasn’t a good band, attributing their success to a pure inability to sink into the obscurium they so rightly deserve. Bergin said he had heard them at house parties when he was in high school (a time when most everybody gets into regrettable types of music) and just sort of stayed with them for the past ten years. He went on to say they became a part of his life. He had seen them about a dozen times, got a tattoo of one of their logos on his leg, and goes to their shows whenever they’re in town.
I was a little humbled by this. So what the pop/ska format’s been dead for years? So what their lyrics are bland and song structures predictable? So what they kind of loiter on stage chit chatting between three minute, three chord pseudo-anthems? So what? The music industry’s a cold and miserable cut-throat institution built on generations of crushed dreams and wasted ambition. A little part of me can not but be happy for a band, even a crappy band like Less Thank Jake that gives crappy shows, has a loyal, happy following. Good on ya Less Than Jake, best of luck to you.
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