Less Than Jake

When Less Than Jake announced their latest tour, the list of venues came as a bit of a surprise. Rather than their usual collection of medium-sized venues in major towns and cities, this time they were visiting just a handful of places off the beaten track. It made some fans wonder whether they were just trying to mix things up, or whether they felt they couldn’t fill the bigger venues any more.

The Bots

With this at the back of my mind I set off for their second gig of the tour, at the Assembly in Leamington Spa. It was my first time there, and I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was surprised and impressed by what an excellent venue it is. After a recent Art Deco renovation by none other than Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen, it’s full of unique details and character, and really shows up more well-known venues for the bland, soulless boxes that they are.

The BotsThe Bots

Thankfully the pleasant surprises didn’t stop at the venue itself, because Less Than Jake had brought two incredible support bands with them.

The BotsThe Bots

First to take the stage were The Bots, a band made up of two brothers from L.A. – Mikaiah Lei on lead guitar and vocals, and Anaiah Lei on drums. Aged just 18 and 14, they have talent and confidence well beyond their years, and are already making big waves in the music industry. They’ve played multiple Warped and Afro-Punk tours, and recently supported Tenacious D, and they’re not showing any signs of slowing down yet.

The Skints

After a few minutes of relaxed banter they kicked off with their opening song, giving everyone their second shock of the set. Rather than the quiet, simplistic music that many were expecting, they let rip with some astonishing, riff-driven punk which was genuinely up there with the best you’ve heard.

The SkintsThe Skints

Both brothers had a real energy and stage presence that kept the crowd engrossed as they blasted out hardcore song after song. They interspersed their set with the odd melodic ballad and instrumental, showing an even greater depth to their music. By the end the audience were completely engaged, and the cheers as they left the stage were the biggest I’ve heard for a support band in a long time.

The SkintsThe Skints

With big shoes to fill, the second support took the stage. The Skints provided an excellent contrast to The Bots – slower and more melodic, with heavy dub and reggae influences. The 4-piece from London have been touring extensively for the last 4 years, supporting bands such as Reel Big Fish, You Me at Six, and Gym Class Heroes.

Less Than Jake

Their live experience really showed and they soon has the crowd eating out of their hands. They had a large fanbase in the audience, and they really helped to boost the atmosphere with their singing and swaying. The vibe was contageous and before long everyone was dancing along to the rhythmic, meandering music.

Less Than JakeLess Than Jake

When planning a tour, it’s common for the headline band to choose a couple of soundalike acts to support them. It was nice to see Less Than Jake taking a risk by choosing two bands that are a bit further from what you’d expect. It was a risk that certainly paid off, and it gave the night a depth that you don’t get at most gigs.

Less Than Jake

With such great support, Less Than Jake had a lot to live up to. The crowd was already pumped up from the night’s music, and from England’s 1-0 Euro 2012 win over Ukraine, and Less Than Jake seemed to feed off the energy in the room. They’re usually a lively band but tonight they had an extra buzz about them. Combined with the fans’ enthusiasm, it made for a truly exciting atmosphere.

Less Than JakeLess Than Jake

The set got off to a great start with old favourite, Anchor, and kept getting better as they pumped out other classics including Automatic, All My Best Friends Are Metalheads, and Gainesville Rock City. As seasoned Less Than Jake fans have come to expect, there was plenty of banter with the audience in between songs. The band even paid tribute to one of their most hardcore fans who was there to see them for the 200th time. They’d thoughtfully bought her a cake to celebrate, which promptly ended up in pieces being launched around the moshpit.

Less Than JakeIMG_Less Than Jake7024

Despite playing a handful of their newer songs, Less Than Jake mostly stuck to their older material, which they know is what their fans really love. That’s the great thing about this band – they genuinely want to give their fans an incredible night rather than trying to push their latest album in the hope of making a few sales. It’s one of the reasons their fans have stayed so loyal over the past 20 years.

Less Than JakeLess Than Jake

It was a fantastic set which proved once again that Less Than Jake are at their best when performing live. I’d gone into the night with niggling doubts about their choice of venue, and whether they were losing their talent or passion for touring. Thankfully I was proved completely wrong, and I’d even go as far as saying it’s the best I’ve ever seen them. They’ve got a lot to live up to next time!

Gig Review by Pete Williams
Gig Photos by Helen Williams

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