Less Than Jake / Westbound Train / Mephiskapheles – Highline Ballroom – New York, NY – 3/9/16

For the beginning of 2016, Less Than Jake embarked on a mini East Coast/Midwest tour playing two nights in the same city.  This tour would be at intimate venues that would only fit about 1,000 people. These shows would definitely sell out, not just because it is Less Than Jake, but because each night would have an album played front to back.  The first night would be Losing Streak, while the next night would be Hello Rockview.  Two albums that fans always go back to and claim are Less Than Jake’s best work.  Personally for me, I’d like to see Boarders & Boundaries and Anthem played front to back, but I’ll still take in these shows because Less Than Jake has a great back catalog.  From what I understand, this is the first time Less Than Jake has played an album show outside of Florida.  I could be wrong, but I don’t remember seeing a show like this before.  The other special part of these shows is that Less Than Jake had friends be the opening act and you guessed it, each night was different.  I attended the first night in New York which featured Losing Streak, and the best openers I could ask for Mephiskapheles and Westbound Train.

For Mephiskapheles, this was a hometown show for them.  Unfortunately they didn’t have a longer set, but they were able to play the favorites like “Saba”, “Doomsday”, and from their new album “Satan Stole My Weed”.  Surprisingly “The Bumblebee Tuna Song” didn’t make the cut.  However, Mephiskapheles ripped through their set with no down time in between songs.  Even lead singer Andre Worrell fed guitarist Dave Hahn a drink while he performed.  Mephiskapheles are back from the grave and their live show shows no sign of going back underground.  If you haven’t, check out their new self titled E.P. and when you see them at a show, pick up the vinyl.  The back cover shows some photos from yours truly.

http://mephiskapheles.bandcamp.com/

Following Mephiskapheles was Westbound Train.  A personal favorite of mine, Westbound Train hasn’t performed in quite some time.  A few shows here and there, but not in their own area.  It could be a year or five years since they performed, but no matter what, once they hit the stage, it was like they haven’t missed a beat.  Playing about 11 songs, Obi and company performed flawlessly with smiles on their faces.  There was jumping, crowd singing, doing a sort of “shout” recreation, and keyboard tipping.  Westbound Train is a band that you can perform at a wedding or a frat party.  Even though no one will know the originals, their music is enough to get people dancing.  Hopefully these shows show Westbound Train that we want new music and more shows.  Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long because summer is around the corner and new Westbound Train would make the summer sun shine brighter.

https://www.facebook.com/WestboundTrain/

As stated before, this was the first show in New York for Less Than Jake’s album shows and Highline Ballroom got to witness Losing Streak being played front to back.  The venue holds about 700 people and when the sound clip of Howie J. Reynolds came on it felt like they were all on top of me.  With no barricade and taking photos, it got a little rough.  I even have bruises on my stomach from being pushed up against the stage.  I’ve seen Less Than Jake a lot, from small stages to big stages.  This show reminded me of the time  I saw them in West Chester, PA at The Note.  That held about 200 people though.  Running through Losing Streak, Less Than Jake did what they do best, put on a hell of a show.  With funny banter in between songs, Less Than Jake always gives the crowd what they want.  Expect for when Chris DeMakes said to a fan, “No we are not playing “I’m A Dude””.  Regardless you had to laugh at the comment.  Throughout their set, they had confetti shot at the crowd, toilet paper, and balloons all done by the Less Than Jake mascot.  In the middle of the set a fan got on stage and stated he is a professional dancer.  He was spotted by the band because the way he was dressed.  I will admit though, he could dance and did a nice stage dive.  That’s the thing with Less Than Jake, they love getting the crowd involved and want everyone to have a fun time.  After Losing Streak Less Than Jake did a six song encore with one song from each album.  After the first song, a fan proposed to his girlfriend.  Again a great way for Less Than Jake to get their fans involved with their live show.  For being a band for 24 years, Less Than Jake is still the best entertaining band to see live.  No matter how much you pay to see them, every dollar is worth it.  Here is to another 24 years Less Than Jake.

http://www.lessthanjake.com/

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