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REVIEW: Less Than Jake Takes Us Back To Rockview

How do you sum up 25 years of history with a band, especially one as consequential to my musical upbringing as Less Than Jake? I’ve seen them in at least 3 different states since the late 90’s. Caught their 10-year play-through of Losing Streak, the album I remember going to Best Buy to pick up when it came out. They played Top Cat’s just before the pandemic wrecked the world. Then jumped to MegaCorp with The Aquabats just two years ago. Now, a sold-out crowd at Bogart’s playing through what is my favorite album of theirs, Hello Rockview. A storied career, a hell of a tour, and an incredible record - all condensed into one sweaty, raucous night.


The Raging Nathans, hailing from Dayton, OH, were tapped to open the tour and they leaned right into making sure we all knew it was a punk rock show. I’m sure there’s a healthy straight-up late 90’s oriented skate punk that’s still thriving - I’ve just not been granted access - so it was almost refreshing to hear The Raging Nathans just start ripping it from note one. 30 minutes of kickass locally grown punk rock, as fun as it was relentless, lip curled in a sardonic grin whilst singing and all. It was a super fun set and a rad way to kick things off.


An all-time favorite band of mine, Strung Out had 45 minutes to absolutely destroy the place. And friends, they did it. They really did it. It had been maybe a decade since I’d had the pleasure of seeing Strung Out live - far too long. My history with the band is deeply personal, as they acted as a weird sort of connective tissue between a friend group who helped me get through some rough times when I lived far away from home, a period I memorialized with the Strung Out atom tattooed on my right arm. Their very particular brand of skate punk, hardcore, metal, and punk rock is as tough to emulate as it is easy to appreciate. All these years later, you wouldn’t know they’d been doing this for three decades - they’re as vibrant and vital as they’ve ever been and gave one of my favorite live performances of the last few years. Yes, they’re that good.


All these years later, Hello Rockview is an album that is likely part of my actual DNA. That’s just science. While Losing Streak is the album that really brought Less Than Jake into the spotlight, Hello Rockview’s jump in both production and songwriting took the band further, faster, than just about any band at the time. From the opening track “Last One Out of Liberty City,” to “Al’s War,” it’s a masterclass in taking something that was considered effervescent and twee - namely, Ska - and turning it into something not just classic, but quintessential. It’s great pop songwriting, it’s skillful and fun and buoyant, but it felt important then, which was unexpected - you don’t typically listen to an album for the first time and go, “Ah, okay. This is what an instant classic sounds like.” With Hello Rockview, it was apparent from track one.

Live, they’re a band that’s also typically unrivaled as far as energy and sheer magnetism are concerned. Last night? No exception. Much like Strung Out, it’s genuinely hard to believe they’ve been doing this for 30 years. You wouldn’t know it just by watching them perform. Hello Rockview got the playthrough treatment, the stage framed in artwork from the album. They gave fans a few more classics to boot. As the kids say, we ate well last night.

If you’ve not given Less Than Jake a listen, there’s no time like the present. They sold out Bogart’s - even after 30 years as a band - for a reason. Hello Rockview is, was, and always will be not just a classic of the genre, but also a career-defining album for a band that admittedly had no idea they’d still be doing this three decades after getting together. So, cheers to Less Than Jake, and cheers to Hello Rockview.

Less Than Jake

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