Less Than Jake and Friends Bring The Fun To First Avenue


I’m moving a bit slow this morning and everything hurts ever so slightly but the cheesy smile on my face has been plastered there since the beginning of the show on Thursday night.

I’ll be honest, I missed the majority of Don’t Panic’s opening set just due to the early start time and my need to get a little bit more work done before heading out for the night but I regret that entirely. I walked into First Avenue just in time to catch the final two tracks of this Pennsylvania-based pop-punk band and loved what I heard. Their sound, like the rest of the line-up for the epic night, was full of nostalgic sounds and infectious beats. They had a sense of fun about them on stage. They polled the audience about who would come back to see them if they were to come back to town and then thanked those who cheered for lying to them. I did cheer at that moment and I promise I wasn’t lying. I would go see Don’t Panic again in a heartbeat and I hope they do come back soon!

I was a bit worried about seeing The Aquabats perform next. Don’t get me wrong, I adore this campy and fun band but the only other times I have seen them perform have been at giant festivals and I feared that they wouldn’t be the same when confined to the four walls of a venue. Thankfully, within their first track, that worry fell to the wayside. Hailing from California, The Aquabats is one of those bands that you just have to see live. Donning their signature superhero-type outfits complete with bald cap looking head coverings, this band may have been only the second band of a four-band line-up but they brought a headlining star power feeling to the stage. Although the music was absolutely flawless, it was the moment when the band invited Foster up on stage that was the highlight. Foster was a kid from the audience who was tossed (gently) onto an inflatable slice of pizza and then surfed around the audience before returning back to the stage. It was whole-hearted and just cheesy fun that I was so glad to see remained as part of The Aquabats’ set even though they were inside of a venue and not outside at a festival.

Following The Aquabats was Bowling For Soup. This band has been around since 1994 and, for better or for worse, hasn’t changed a damn thing since day one. If you don’t like silly fun and campy jokes and moments, this is not the band for you. Thankfully, all of those things plus the band’s signature pop-punk sound is what I live for so it was all smiles and laughter throughout their set. Although they were on stage for around an hour, the band only played twelve songs which definitely felt a bit short but the amount of fun they were having in between tracks made it okay. They have apparently ditched their beer drinking moment that they used to do and have replaced it with a photo op that had the entire band walking to each side of the venue and posing for a silly picture. Again, campy, silly, and a little childish (but in a good way) is the name of the game when it comes to Bowling For Soup but it works for them and makes them one of those acts that I could go see night after night and not get bored with.

Closing the already fantastic night of music out was a personal favorite of many, Less Than Jake. Like Bowling For Soup, LTJ has been around for decades and hasn’t changed a thing since day one. Their fun ska-punk sound is distinct and their onstage antics and energy are things to be envied. All of that was put into the spotlight as they played through fifteen track set. Somehow they were able to fit all of my favorites from their extensive nine-album career into this quick set and I couldn’t have been happier. My personal favorite moment was when they played “Plastic Cup Politics” because that’s obviously one of their best tracks but there really wasn’t a moment throughout their time on stage where I wasn’t dancing around with a giant cheesy smile on my face. Although I was a bit bummed that audience member Steve’s mullet got on stage and mine didn’t (I’ll admit, mine is still a work in progress and Steve’s was a thing of beauty), Less Than Jake continues to be another one of those bands that I will never skip an opportunity to catch live.

My boyfriend was hanging out at the show downstairs at The 7th Street Entry while I was dancing my butt off with some friends at this show. We met up afterward so he could drive me home and the first thing he said to me when he saw me was something about my smile. He knew instantly that Thursday night’s show was everything to me and that it was just one of those nights where all of my worries had faded away with the music. That smile is still on my face this morning as I down my coffee with a side of Advil and bubbly water.