LIVE : Less Than Jake – 02 Academy Sheffield – 04.10.16

The general public strolling down Arundel Gate this evening look on as a swarm of old and young alike queue to get into Sheffield’s 02 Academy. Its quite the turnout for the Ska-Punk legends, but at Ten English pounds for a line up as varied and brimming with dancability as this, you’d be a fool to be a rock fan in Sheffield tonight and not be in attendance.

Mariachi El Bronx, for those unaware, is the alter ego of LA punk n’ rollers The Bronx. An eight-piece Mariachi band, they are the most fun anyone could have at a rock show, without actually watching a rock band. Frontman Matt Caughthran embraces his role as band leader with a sly wink, encouraging the audience to dance along to would- be-classics Revolution Girls and 48 Roses with all the charm of a genuine Mexican troubadour. As odd as Mariachi El Bronx seem at first glance on any bill, they certainly capture the hearts of the crowd here, and with gloriously celebratory numbers like High Tide, it’s no surprise at all. [8/10]

Londoner’s The Skints are a fine choice for tonight’s show, balancing out the cultural tones on offer with their own brand of soulful reggae. Live, the band lock into a solid groove that the audience finds hard to resist. Heads nod and feet tap to the addictive hooks of Mindless, which showcase the vocal duo of drummer Jamie Kyriakides and multi instrumentalist Marcia Richards. Guitarist Joshua Rudge commands the stage with cocky energy, adding grime overtones to the funky likes of Rat-a-tat. With the Bob Marley vibes of Forest For The Trees being a mellow highlight, The Skints are a true UK treasure and continue to bring it live. [8/10]

Tonight’s main event, all the way from Gainesville, Florida are veteran Ska-Punkers Less Than Jake and judging by the sea of early 00’s band tees on display, they are the main attraction. They hit the stage and launch into a riotous Last One Out Of Liberty City. The crowd is already surging back and forth before the two-tone ska of Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts rockets past in less than two minutes. If you’ve ever attended a Less Than Jake show, you will of course be familiar with their particular brand of sophomoric humor, and tonight is no different, vocalists Chris DeMakes and Roger Lima hurling insults at each other much to the audiences delight. With an ever-growing back catalog to draw on, the band plow through oldies and newies alike, the brass section of Buddy Schaub and J.R showcasing their knack for massive hooks on the frantic Scott Farcas Takes It On The Chin and newer number Good Enough.

Its hard deny the infectious atmosphere of a Less Than Jake show and the Steel City crowd are no exception. They embrace every ounce of  the band’s goofball antics, from toilet-roll launching guns to inviting a topless, middle-aged gentleman named ‘John’ onstage for Anthem classic The Ghost Of Me & You. Not ones to disappoint their fans, the band finish up with a manic version of All My Best Friends Are Metalheads, which judging by the audience participation, will lead to some sore throats in the morning. It seems these days, many bands are cashing in revivals and one-off comebacks. Less Than Jake need not worry about such things however, as long as they keep putting on shows as entertaining as tonight’s. [9/10]