Less Than Jake

support Nelson Can
author PP date 14/11/12 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

Loppen is nearly sold out tonight based on the temperature levels and the sheer amount of people hanging out by the bar and the tables scattered around the venue. Ska's definitely alive and healthy despite what the critics of the genre say, and given that the last two Less Than Jake albums have been exceptionally good, there's good reason to watch the best band in the genre return to Denmark for the first time in more than four years. For the support band, the venue/bookers had made a weird selection, opting to go against the grain and avoiding a genre-related band, instead electing bluesy all-girl retro rockers Nelson Can to open the night instead.

Nelson Can vocalist

Nelson Can

So if you've ever wondered how The White Stripes might sound like had they all been chicks and gone into a slightly more experimental direction, Nelson Can's your answer. The trio consists of just drums, vocals, and bass, as well as the occasional cowbell and toy-flute for good measure. They delve deep into the world of blues and experimental indie/garage, characterised by strange retro melodies and the weirdo dancing moves of their vocalist. She goes for classic soul in her delivery, with scratchy vocals almost breaking into screaming every now and then, but most of the time coming across as very talented. I'm thinking she'd be much better off as a solo singer than as a part of this band, whose songs are too weird for their own good, and definitely not suited to kick-start the dancing party that is Less Than Jake. The lack of guitar is glaring from their sound to the extent where I'm consistently thinking about how each song could've been infinitely more interesting with the instrument making brief entries into the bass-heavy sound, because as it stands now, the groovy bass isn't doing enough on its own to support their sound. They're all talented musicians individually, but their songs just don't create much of a buzz tonight nor on record. Meh.

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Less Than Jake antics

Less Than Jake

In stark contrast to what we witnessed earlier, it doesn't take long for Less Than Jake to get the buzz going. In fact, it takes less than the first notes to "Gainesville Rock City" to instigate a massive dance pit that refuses to quiet down even towards the end of the night when people are starting to leave due to how late the show drags on (which incites a mocking comment from frontman Chris Demakes: "You're leaving? Bye, hope you had a good time!"). People are skanking, moshing, and jumping up-and-down (this mostly during the "Anthem" and "In With The Out Crowd Songs", which are more mainstream punk), and the aforementioned temperature starts taking its toll on the air quality. Demakes makes multiple jokes regarding the lack of deodorant use by the audience members, while calling out guitarist Roger for not having worn deodorant for two decades. It's their 20th year anniversary tour as a band, so Chris is in a talkative mood tonight, making jokes left and right and in the best Fat Mike (NOFX) style, calling everyone, everything, and each song 'awesome' every chance he gets. The funniest moment is arguably when someone offers him snus from the front rows, and he recalls a first date with a chick at a restaurant who was using the stuff, where he simply told her he's going to the bathroom and walked straight out of the place without her noticing.

The audience movement gets noticeably more intense during the faster and more ska-oriented punk songs from the "Losing Streak" era, but to be fair the response is great throughout the show. Apparently one of the chicks from the support band Nelson Can had asked Chris earlier if Less Than Jake had any slow and romantic songs they could play tonight, but he just tells the crowd that they simply don't have any songs that fall underneath that category, which is one reason why people are drenched in sweat by the end of the show. With a great collection of tracks spanning their entire era (with a whopping 5 from 1996's "Losing Streak" and 1998's "Hello Rockview"), the hour and fifteen minutes speeds by quickly as the band go through 21 songs with a set list that should please most Less Than Jake fans, old and new. Let's end the review with a Demakes quote from the evening: awesome.

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Setlist:

  • 1. Gainesville Rock City
  • 2. Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts
  • 3. Look What Happened
  • 4. Automatic
  • 5. The New Auld Lang Syne
  • 6. Happyman
  • 7. 9th At Pine
  • 8. Golden Age Of My Negative Ways
  • 9. Scott Farcas Takes It On The Chin
  • 10. The Science Of Selling Yourself Short
  • 11. Help Save The Youth of America From Exploding
  • 12. Motown Never Sounded So Good
  • 13. How's My Driving, Doug Hastings?
  • 14. All My Best Friends Are Metalheads
  • 15. Escape from the A-Bomb House
  • 16. History Of A Boring Town
  • 17. Goodbye, Mr. Personality
  • 18. The Ghosts Of Me And You
  • --Encore--
  • 19. Nervous In The Alley
  • 20. Sugar In Your Gas Tank
  • 21. Plastic Cup Politics

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