Less Than Jake & Reel Big Fish Live at O2’s Shepherds Bush Empire, London

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The prospect of ska punk legends Less Than Jake teaming up with Reel Big Fish for a thoroughly good time across the UK during February 2014 was something that excited a huge amount of people. With Zebrahead also on board for the ride, this had the promise to be one of THE tours of 2014. Rocksins sent Sam and Fran along to enjoy the action and report back…

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Opening tonight was Reel Big Fish drummer Ryland Steen with his solo acoustic project Ryland (7) who played a short set of acoustic emo songs as people were entering tonight. It was a slightly odd way to begin but was still highly enjoyable mainly due to his surprisingly good vocals and ability to engage the crowd and get them to sing along to songs they weren’t familiar with.  

Soon after he finished Zebrahead (8) burst onto the stage and straight away had a large portion of the room jumping around and singing along. Zebrahead create an incredibly fun atmosphere and it’s clear the majority of the crowd enjoy their set. Three songs in Zebrahead get everyone to crouch down and jump up and the crowd respond to this request. Things get even more ridiculous when Zebrahead bring on two guys wearing Lederhosen onstage to drink beers and dance. It’s incredibly silly stuff but is exactly what this audience want to see. For set closer “Anthem” Zebrahead are joined by the brass section from Reel Big Fish and is a great way to end their 40 minute set. Despite the early time and shorter set length this was a performance worthy of a headliner.

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Next up came the first of tonight’s two headliners, and with the room now completely rammed the atmosphere as Less Than Jake (8.5) take to the stage is incredible. Fans immediately start dancing around and singing along to every song Less Than Jake play. Not only are the fans loving this performance but it’s clear the band are incredibly happy to be on stage playing to this many people, midway through the set they discuss how the Ska-Punk scene is dead in America but seeing how so many people in the UK still love it makes these shows even better for them. With a career spanning setlist there were plenty of fan favourites played as well as a few songs from their latest album See The Light which fans still reacted brilliantly to with lots of dancing, moshing and crowd surfing happening. Less Than Jake even pull two fans onstage and get them doing jumping jacks for a whole song. “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads” and set closer “Gainesville Rock City” get the best reactions of the night but there is not a moment in this set that everyone in the audience does not love.

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Finally it was time for Reel Big Fish (8) to bring this show to a close, and opening with “Everything Sucks” got their set off to a great start. Again everyone in the crowd was dancing and singing along and just having a great time. It’s very clear that all of the bands tonight just want every in the room to have fun and there is absolutely nothing serious about Reel Big Fish tonight. From their onstage banter and antics to the actual songs this is again an incredibly silly performance but this doesn’t bother anyone. Whilst Reel Big Fish don’t quite get the reaction Less Than Jake received for their entire set, when they play “Sell Out” at the end this results in the biggest sing-along of the night. Finally wrapping things up with their cover of A-ha’s “Take On Me” ended tonight’s show on a massive high note and perfectly summed up why this was such a fun gig.

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