Less than Jake
Goldfinger, Westbound Train, Suburban Legends
Philadelphia, PA • June 29, 2008
Despite the city being stuck in the middle of a heat wave, Philadelphia fans were out in large numbers to support the Shout It Loud 2 Tour. That day was a special stop, as it was done in conjunction with the Paul Green School of Rock All Stars. Not only would there be performers on the main stage, but on four other stages, students would get the chance to perform for anyone who would happen to walk by.
The show kicked off early at noon. By the time I got there, Suburban Legends was gearing up for their performance on the main stage. The California sextet had a charm about them that had the crowd dancing and somewhat fixated on them. It didn’t hurt that Vince Walker (vocals), Brian Robertson (trombone) and Luis Beza (trumpet) often broke out in choreographed dance moves throughout their songs.
While the heat was somewhat unbearable, the crowd didn’t mind moving around and dancing. At one point, the music stopped as Vince wished the band’s drummer, Mike Hachey, a happy birthday. Luis took over the drumming, as Mike came up front to play “what side of the audience can make more noise” and be sung to. The crowd, including myself, was highly entertained and it was a shame that Suburban Legends was put on as early as they were.
Up next was Boston’s Westbound Train. Dressed in all black, the band had decent music, but the performance lacked the luster to keep the audience’s enthusiasm going. They could have been perceived better with a Philly audience, had they performed in a different (and cooler) venue.
Los Angeles punk band, Goldfinger was on the main stage next. With original member Charlie Paulson back in the line-up, the band proceeded to play tracks off their latest release, Hello Destiny, as well as some old favorites from their previous releases. Though the crowd was excited to see one of their favorite bands (a fact that was growing overwhelmingly obvious with each song), it all reached an apex halfway through. John Feldmann suddenly made a call out to the crowd — any and all fans who wanted to be on stage could do so and help them sing the next song.
Suddenly, it was like mad chaos. Some people made a dash to go around the security gate, while others opted to crowdsurf over the barriers. The amp cases in the photo pit became stepping stones, as the security guards tried to keep some sort of sanity about the whole issue. At first, John seemed like a ringmaster in charge of the number of fans screaming and dancing alongside him, but then it seemed that even he seemed a bit overwhelmed. After the song, fans reluctantly retreated back to the crowd. However, the show wasn’t stopping there. The crew decided to surprise John, who was celebrating his birthday, with streamers, confetti and a pie, leaving him one brightly-colored mess. Despite the birthday surprise, John and the band continued playing, finishing up their 45-minute set.
Less than Jake was up next. Fans of all ages crushed up to the barrier, as the band from Gainesville took the stage. Welcomed warmly by Philadelphia, LTJ played most of the tracks off of their ninth release, “GNV FLA,” while still lacing the set with some old crowd favorites. With the fusion of ska, punk and a touch of pop, the music was just as refreshing as a cold bottle of water — something that everyone was enjoying and lifted spirits despite the humidity.
The stage show was good old sweaty fun, with the band stepping up the crowd’s energy. At one point, the band began playing “Summon Monsters,” while encouraging the audience to join in a circle pit — around the sound tower. The Philly crowd, ready to prove their allegiance and adoration to the band, immediately joined in. The band was animated to the point of frenzy, throwing themselves into every song and still being able to play with perfection.
After the set, I can say that Less than Jake’s set wasn’t just a performance, but more of an experience. Having not seen them before, I can’t imagine a more perfect setting than the Festival Pier, which provided a huge outdoor setting for the fans to let loose to their favorite tracks.