‘Skanking and confetti’ characterize LTJ show

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There’s no show like a ska show. Less Than Jake proved this once again on their annual stop in St. Louis last Saturday. After several years of crappy openers (Allister opened last year and Fall Out Boy and Yellowcard opened the year before), LTJ finally got it right with Boston punk warriors, A Wilhelm Scream. A Wilhelm Scream got the crowd sweating by barraging them with a good chunk of their latest album, Ruiner. Highlights include the album opener “The King is Dead” and the brilliantly titled “Me Vs. Morrissey In The Pretentiousness Contest” and “The Kids Can Eat a Bag of Dicks.” After getting the crowd of pimply little ska kids adequately worked up, A Wilhelm Scream took a bow and let the big guns roll out. LTJ stormed the stage and immediately lived up to their reputation: a little bit of ska, a little bit of punk and a whole lot of fun. A veteran of the ska-punk scene for upwards of 10 years, LTJ had no shortage of songs to choose from when spicing up their set list. The evening started out with a blast off of 2003’s Anthem, “The Ghosts of Me and You.” The crowd never stopped moving. The skaning was intense and beautiful. After that, the band switched between fan favorites and new classics, such as the dangerously catchy ska ditty “The Science of Selling Yourself Short,” the club-thumping “Scott Farcas Takes it on the Chin” and the fist-pumping “Al’s War.” After debuting a song a new song off their upcoming album In With The Out Crowd, Chris (guitar) announced that the band would play “songs from 10 years ago,” which resulted in a 10- minute medley which included “Automatic,” and “Bad Scene and a Basement Show” and ended with the 30-second “Anchor,” which hasn’t made it onto an LTJ set list in quite some time. The set continued with the darker “Escape from the A-Bomb House,” which resulted in less skanking and more traditional moshing from the crowd. Toward the end of their set, the band invited a husky, 40-year-old “hoosier” on stage to dance on stage with them, simply because they admired his awful mustache so very much. Such is the humor of LTJ; picking on chumps and telling hilariously horrible jokes (ex: “Q: how do you know if an auto mechanic has recently had sex? A: Because one of his fingers is clean.”) For their last few songs, LTJ picked songs from all corners of their discography, from the ancient “Jen Doesn’t Like Me Anymore” to the somewhat recent “History of a Boring Town” to the fairly recent “Gainsville Rock City and, finally, the so-new-people-didn’t-even-know-it “Sleep it Off.” For their encore, the band presented what is easily their best song, and quite possibly one of the best pop songs of the past 10 years, “Look What Happened,” to the delight of the crowd, who had just enough energy for one final burst. Amid the skanking and confetti, Less Than Jake proved themselves to be a true gem in the rock world: They know that they are just a ska band and that they are no longer spring chicks, but they also know that they love what they do, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s no show like a ska show.