“Mamacita” as my good friend Cosmo Kramer would say. Normally, venues don’t fill up that fast for the opening acts, but being a sold out show may have had something to do with the concert goers’ eagerness to get to there as early as possible.
Having worked with them prior, I was super stoked to see the rapidly growing Bearings on La Tulipe’s stage February 20th touring with Less Than Jake. They brought the energy and passion that I always remember them having and, with vocalist Doug Cousins’ motivational speeches, made sure that everyone in the audience knew who they were, where they’ve come from, and what they stand for. With their pounding sound, powerful vocals and bass player Collin Hanes spinning around while playing, it was nice seeing them play on a suitable stage compared to the shit boxes they’ve had to play in the past. Listen to their single “North Hansen” which they closed with, and get motivated.
Although not necessarily motivational in the moralistic sense, Direct Hit! will definitely motivate you to go crazy and scream “fuck you,” which is also written on their band banner. Melodically ferocious while coming across as dysfunctional yet still super tight and solid-sounding, these wild boys were stoked to be on tour with Less Than Jake, stoked to be in Montreal, and super amused by how they were provided with four litres of whiskey that waited for them in their dressing room. Like a starved lion let out of its cage, frontman Nick Woods was vicious, enthused, and hilarious. Not only did these guys sound great, their anecdotal performances were entertaining in themselves. Belting out such gut-busting beasts as “Buried Alive,” “Hospital For Heroes,” and “Forced To Sleep,” a song about sleeping pills, I don’t think these guys allowed the blood in their veins to settle more than once throughout their set. If brains could combust, theirs may have that night – along with my own.
Despite all the power and energy from the early stages of the night, the audience really only started revving up and getting rowdy when Four Year Strong (FYS) hit the stage. Although FYS could go down in history as being one of the more popular 21st Century pop punk bands, the best thing about their performance was the quality of their sound and the music. Call me crazy, but I want more than just for the music to sound great – I want stage antics and to be entertained! Their music is clearly loved enough for them to be able to get away with simply playing the songs without much of a physical performance; I’m sure their fans were thrilled. The lights were kind of basic, the movement on stage was lacking a bit, yet the fans were the craziest and crowd-surfiest they had been leading up to their performance. So, cheers, Four Year Strong, your set was a success.
Ask and you shall receive. Well, shoot, I asked for stage antics and received a whole lot of them. Less Than Jake provided nothing less than entertainment, solid humour, stage antics a plenty, and well, for what it’s worth, pretty good quality-sounding music too. From balloons and toilet paper guns to trombones and saxophones, Less Than Jake most definitely put on a solid party. They opened with “Sugar in Your Gas Tank” and then just pulled out all the hits including “Look What Happened,” “All My Friends Are Metalheads” and, my personal favourite “The Science of Selling Yourself Short,” as part of a three-song encore. Not only were people jumping off the stage, audience members including a young man and woman were also pulled up onto the stage and encouraged to dance and even makeout a tad, which they did not. These funny, lovable, anecdotal and clearly multi-talented guys were everything I could possibly want in a performance. Not only did their music sound off-the-wall-awesome, Less Than Jake put on a serious act that night. To quote Elaine Benes talking about her multifunctional alarm clock, “It had everything! It had everything!” As the audience jumped, waved, and clapped their hands, soaking in the good vibes and party flowing from the stage, I’m confident that they’d agree with my lame and recycled joke that Less Than Jake were no less than great.
Written by Keenan Kerr
Photography by Marie-Emmanuelle Laurin
*edited by Danielle Kenedy