As I leave the Starland Ballroom for the first time I look back and realize that this show was one of the loudest and craziest shows of my life. The show featured ska/reggae kings Less Than Jake and Catch 22, along with supporting acts Obi Fernandez, The Waffle Stompers, and the Avon Junkies. Unfortunately, I showed up late and didn’t have a chance to catch the Avon Junkies.
I arrived about 5 minutes before the Waffle Stompers came out. I was excited to see them because I had previously seen them with Reel Big Fish at Rutgers two years ago, and they killed it. This show was much of the same from the Stompers. Playing their fast, punky ska music, they got the crowd moving and rocked the show. After their show ended, Obi Fernandez was due up.
Not once had I heard the name Obi Fernandez until this night, so I had no idea what to expect. What I heard was the beautiful, relaxing sound of reggae. I instantly loved it. Every song was just so nice and beautiful. Obi’s reggae sound didn’t stop the crowd from dancing after the Waffle Stompers. The crowd simply slowed their dancing, and kept it going throughout the set. The best part of the set, for me, was their closer. They covered the song “Check Your Time” by one of my favorite reggae bands, Westbound Train. Their cover was absolutely incredible, and I left that night with a large amount of respect for Obi Fernandez.
Up next are the ska kings, Catch 22. The only song that I had wanted to hear them play was arguably their most famous one, “Keasbey Nights.” As soon as I heard the opening riff to the song, everybody went crazy and danced and sang to every word. Seeing this song live by its original artist was such a treat, as I have loved the song for years now. This song came in the middle of the set, and unfortunately for die-hard Catch 22 fans, they didn’t play “The Footsteps Die Out Forever,” “9mm And A Three Piece Suit,” or “1234 1234.” Most people didn’t seem too upset though because they did see “Keasbey Nights,” and Less Than Jake was still up to play.
I have seen Less Than Jake a few times, but each time was a short 30-minute Warped Tour set, so I was excited to see an extended set from them. They came out to their trumpeter playing what is commonly known as “the boot camp song,” and then they went right into rocking “Gainesville Rock City.” The set was insane. There were about 6 pits in the small amount of space allotted for the show with crowd surfers and dancers, and I was able to feel the music in my teeth; yes, my teeth. Since this was Less Than Jake?s 20 year anniversary tour, they whipped out a few classics. Halfway through their set they played “The Science of Selling Yourself Short” to “wake up” the old people at the bar in back; and boy did it work. As soon as the first horn sounded, the entire place moved. People found the nearest pit and danced and sang the entire song. The next highlight was, in my opinion, one of the best ska/punk songs made; “All My Bestfriends Are Metalheads.” As soon as the notorious intro ended and the guitar came in, the whole building became one large pit with everybody dancing and singing and crowd surfing and having a blast. The last song they played was “Plastic Cup Politics,” the 2-minute song that everyone wishes was a little longer. This fast song was a great way to end the night. Everybody went crazy with their last little bit of energy they were able to scrounge up from the depths of their soul.
As I was exiting the show I realized that my ears were ringing quite loudly and I couldn’t quite hear anything anyone was saying. As a regular concert goer I know that this is a regular occurrence, but none quite this bad. I am writing this now, with my ears still ringing, reliving the great moments of the night. So much dancing, so much music, so much fun. Less Than Jake, you still got it.