Less Than Jake + Bodyjar + Foxtrot @ The Metro Theatre, Sydney, Wednesday 25th December 2017

 

Seeing the Metro sell out is a regular occurrence, especially when it comes to punk rock shows. Usually pop punk is avoided by this reviewer, not on this a occasion when one has grown on a steady diet of home-grown punk, and one of your favourite Aussie punk outfits gains the supporting slot for one bands 25th anniversary tour you know that the night is going to be one special event of sorts.

Opening up were Melbourne’s, Foxtrot, who proved to be one tight four-piece. Led by vocalist Josh Newman who ripped through riffs alongside guitarist, Tyler Worth, whilst providing humour from the get-go, setting foot on the stage with “This first song is dedicated to Chumbawumba from the nineties”

They may get knocked down but they got up again with a heckler shouting out “do better” to the response “we do our best” and nothing kept the boys down as they ploughed through a set of material from their debut EP, The Bottom Line (2011), both LP’s Gone Fishin’ (2013), Habitats (2016) and a taste from latest offering, the seven-inch which was released only last week being, Settling For Survival.

The drumming of Adam Collins was a standout as he played with precision to the backing bass groove of Nick Williams, with similarities to Sunny Day Real Estate. Songs were sung with all taking part in the vein of Hot Water Music, and it was no surprise that the lads had a ball, thanking Sydney siders for getting to the show early, most grateful for being part of the tour.

Before you knew it Bodyjar graced the stage to a hero’s welcome. Technically the punks from Melbourne have been around for longer than the headliners tonight, going by the different names Damnation and Helium until the name change in 1994.

Set opener “Another Minute”, also the opening track to Bodyjar (2005) the final LP before the hiatus from 2009 till 2012 was a ripe way to get the ball rolling. “Life Story”, another track from the self-titled record would later see the light of day.

Nostalgia wasn’t far away with the first song to be heard from, No Touch Red (1998) being “Remote Controller”. Other highlights from the album included the fat riffs of “Sequel” and the spine-tingling “You Say”

A Simon & Garfunkel original, made famous by The Bangles, “A Hazy Shade of Winter” was given the Bodyjar touch with the crowd singing along to the version most would prefer with the four-piece’s stellar rendition of a classic. Guitarist Tom Read nailed the riff alongside the distinct vocals of Cam Baines who also strummed along with his guitar as a weapon.

The first taste of the latest EP, Terra Firma (2017), “Burning it Down for Nothing” went down well with the crowd singing along as if it was an old hit, proving the band are back, releasing material which stands up to older material, possibly their best since Plastic Skies (2002). “Money Box” was another catchy number, showing the talent on display from their latest offering. Shane Wakker pulverised the kit while the infectious bass and vocals of long-time member Tom Read stood out.

Any song from How it Works (2000) was going to be a crowd favourite, with the likes of “Fall to the Ground” and “Not the Same”, especially when Roger Lima, the dreaded bassist from the headliners shared the mic and the love with one of his favourite bands, which he later tells us is no joke.

Role Models (2013) saw “Fairytales” while “17 years” taken from the Jarchives (2003), which was a landmark for the band at the time celebrating 10 years as Bodyjar.

Now with 27 years since the formation ending the set with “One in a Million”, another from Plastic Skies, it is more reason to check out the band live with such a lengthy career and the hope to see songs such as “Glossy Books”, “Calling Orson” and “Too Drunk to Drive” on the stage once again.

Long live Bodyjar who were going to be one hard act to follow!

The main event was none other than Gainsville, Florida natives, Less Than Jake who would prove tonight they are far better than your average pop-punk band. Mixing it up with ska, something they do best from the very first note of “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads” taken from Hello Rockview (1998). Lima is first on the mic with his catchy pop-punk vocals, whilst paving away on bass to the trombone of Buddy “Goldfinger” Schaub and saxophone of Peter “JR” Wasilewski which are a highlight all set.

Losing Streak (1996) would soon follow with the ska-goodness of “Sugar in Your Gas Tank” and later the sing-a-long to “Dopeman” and crowd favourite “Automatic” In the true punk style of Fat Wreck Chords very own NOFX, the band at times felt like a comedy routine with Lima being pointed out for eating Nandos 14 times over 9 days with dark brown shit the result.

Standout among standouts was “Johnny Quest thinks we’re Sell-outs” taken from the debut LP, Pezcore (1995) which involved the calling up of Matt, a Canadian chef living in Australia who stripped once on stage to the bands surprise and was greeted to the band’s mascot of sorts the blonde-haired Johnny Quest. To top off the explosions toilet roll guns shot out into the front rows of the chaotic mosh, mainly made up of energetic teens and mid-aged mental patients.

The distinct bass brought circle pits as “Last One out of Liberty City”, another from Hello Rockview, showcased the rapid speed of drummer Vinnie Fiorello, as did “Five State Drive”, another gem off that same record.

In With the Out Crowd (2006) brought on the crowd favourite “Overrated (Everthing is so)” as it also brought on orange balloons making their way across the venue floor. “P.S. Shock the World” was another number thrown in for good measure taken from the same disc.

The latest EP, Sound the Alarm (2017) got a good reception from punters with most knowing the words to “Bomb Drop” and most recent LP, See the Light (2013) saw the light with “Good Enough”, to represent that release.

“Plastic Cup Politics” off Anthem (2003) and a short encore, replying to the lively crowd with “The Science of Selling Yourself Short” another much-loved track from the standout album, by fans alike as they sang along, not quite like your schoolgirl choir to the catchy vocals from frontman Chris DeMakes and bounced to the crunch of the guitar hook.

DeMakes was put on the spot for his guitar solo to “Gainesville Rock City” with the second song from Borders & Boundaries (2000), after “Look What Happened”, which was played earlier in the set.

“The Ghost of Me and You” brought fans together for one last time with final song of the night, another from Anthem.

Here’s to another 25 years who may be Less Than Jake but are far better than your average pop-punk band! Skank it Up!

Photos by Jess Miller