Both Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish have a 20-year reputation of providing the best live shows you can witness based on sheer fun. Nobody has a bad time at either of their concerts. It's almost a rule.
Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, and Authority Zero brought their all-star ska road show to Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday night, drawing people from all over South Florida and even as far as Argentina, to be here to skank their asses off.
Doors opened at 6:30 and the lines were long. It was clear that old people know and young people have figured out that ska shows, specifically with these bands, are worth staying out late for. If the line wasn't enough to deliver the message that South Florida was revved up for the night, the announcement minutes later that tickets had sold out made it obvious just how many people had shown up.
Authority Zero, no small time opener and worthy of more attention than it gets, hit the stage promptly at 7:30 to an already pretty full Revolution. Alternating their faster punk songs with ska-leaning ones, AZ got the crowd solidly ready for the double-headliner ahead.
Seeing Reel Big Fish has always been like watching an onstage party, and not just because you'd know from their clothes indicate good times. All members appear as if they are having the most fun in the club, regardless of what the rabidly fired up crowd is doing.
From the opening notes of "Everyone Else Is An Asshole," RBF sent Revolution into a frenzy as it ran through a list of classics. Trumpet player Johnny Christmas declared the crowd "spectacular."
With no actual females in the band, trombone player Slaxel Rose picked up the female vocal duties for "I Know You Too Well to Like You Any More" and "She Has a Girlfriend Now."
If I couldn't see that it was a big, bearded dude singing three feet from me, the voice might as has well have been coming from a woman. And given that the crowd picked up those lines pretty well, he was almost unnecessary. It was at this time that we witnessed the frightening site of every male in the crowd shouting in unison the line: "I'll even cut my penis off for you!" Lead singer Aaron Barrett looked satisfied by it.
The three song encore brought demands from Barrett. He stopped and started "S.R." to request a huge circle pit, a square dance and then added a metal section to the song. He kept playing with the crowd during "Beer," arguably the band's most popular and well-loved song, adding two verses from The Offspring's "Self Esteem" in the middle.
RBF closed with what is, to me, the definitive version of a-Ha's "Take On Me." The look of exhausted happiness on every face in the crowd made me wonder if anybody, myself included, would have anything left once LTJ hit the stage.
As sounds began to emanate from behind the curtain, the floor at Revolution began to fill back in and the set started with requests from the band to keep cell phones safely stowed in pockets in order to properly enjoy the show.
Throughout their set, frontmen Chris Demakes and Roger Lima called out people in the crowd -- often pointing or describing them -- to put their devices away. They had a point. It's a lot easier to skank and dance and catch crowd surfers with empty hands.
It felt a little looser on the floor during the first four or five songs of LTJ's set but the crush in front of the stage was back on almost instantly as the opening sounds of "Automatic," the first track in the classic Losing Streak started.
Lima had possibly the best suggestion of the night pretty early in his band's set when he noted how unlike a Wednesday it appeared to be. "Who has to work tomorrow," he teased the crowd. "It feels like Friday. Call out dead!"
A full LTJ show includes smoke, toilet paper guns, water guns, balloons, and confetti, along with breakneck skacore, and nobody was disappointed.
Demakes claimed midset that an onstage twerking contest between female fans during "Overrated (Everything Is)" in South Carolina drew accusations of sexism online so the band decided to even things up in Fort Lauderdale.
"We need three fat guys to come on stage for this next one," Demakes announced without mentioning what they'd be doing.
Once they'd chosen a few portly dudes to come up, the twerking was announced. One man wasn't willing to pull down his pants and shake that ass, and was promptly booed off the stage.
I didn't check the math, but Demakes' claim that LTJ is now as old as the Rolling Stones were in 1986 couldn't be too far off. They look and sound no worse for the wear, as sort of noted by Lima.
"We've definitely sounded shittier," he affirmed, almost as a voice of reason. "Let's hear it for us!"
The screams of "holy shit was that good" could be heard from every direction after the show. Some members of the crowd were definitely older than anybody onstage, and deserve credit for going as apeshit as the 20-year-old in the banana suit who kicked me in the head on his way from the back to the front of the crowd.
If you believe the endless number of interviews and think pieces on the internet, then you agree, LTJ and RBF are legends of ska. From the look on every face at Rev, that statement is a fact. Because 20 years after they helped push the third wave of ska into the mainstream, these bands still have it and still do it well.
To repeat what was said post show, "Holy shit, it really was good."