(All images by Nicole Sergent, see full gallery here)
This past April 19th proved two things to Houstonians: that the city is full of loyal fans and that it is hungry for punk rock. The Less Than Jake and Face to Face show at Proof Rooftop Lounge hosted two other bands-Jukebox Romantics and Direct Hit.
The evening opened up with The Jukebox Romantics, a band native to New York that has been performing since 2009. Coming fresh off an album release this past December, the group put on an upbeat set that pulled audience members in by the end of their performance. The group opened up upcoming bands to an abundance of jokes about the average age of audience members, quipping that they hoped not to kill anyone in the crowd. Their observation was an astute one, with most of the crowd being in their early 30’s or older. The Jukebox Romantics played a set list with a mix of old and new music including songs from their latest album, Sleepwalk Me Home. After putting on a compelling and energetic performance, the group receded to watch more performances and kindly engaged with audience members.
Next band on deck was Direct Hit. In classical punk rock fashion, the group had a sign with, “fuck you,” plastered across the stage. The pop-punk band had a compelling erratic performance, following suit with the previous band, making jokes about old audiences. Direct Hit has been performing since 2007, with their most recent album release being 2016. After performing several songs with a range of topicality covering allergy medicine and superheroes having bad days, the group packed the house. By the end of the performance, the group managed to inspire a small circle pit thrashing about. Holding true to the punk rock crowd the group pandered towards, the lead singer exited the stage after flipping the bird and a generous “fuck you,” to round out their set.
When Less Than Jake hit the stage, the crowd was already electric. Coming off two great performances that were full of life, audience members were ready to rock. In true Less Than Jake fashion, band members came out in a dramatic fashion, jumping around stage like madmen. Playing a range of songs from all over their lengthly musical career (that has spanned twenty five years(!)) Less Than Jake came to serve up some wild fun and chaos, as per usual. This performance, yet again, saw sad jokes about audience age that became stale by the third delivery. Besides the audience’s lack of patience for overworked humor, the musical performance itself was well received. As usual Buddy Schaub and JR Wasilewski came to play, adding brass notes that set Less Than Jake’s sound apart from the rest. Since the last time we talked to Less Than Jake (see here), the group came out with their album Sound The Alarm, which the group performed tracks from at Proof. Would it be on the band’s shows if they didn’t pull out the toilet paper gun mid show? Less Than Jake pulled out the group’s iconic piece towards the end of the performance, leaving audience members satisfied after a great show and covered in toilet paper.
Some audience members trickled away from the crowd, but when Face to Face got onstage it became apparent that the wildest concert go-ers remained. If you flip through our site’s gallery of show coverage, you might notice that there aren’t as many photos of Face to Face as there are of other acts. This is not due to lack of performance or merit, rather, there are very little images because of an overly enthusiastic crowd that nearly knocked down barriers within the first song. To evade risk of ruining camera equipment, this reporter put up expensive equipment around thrashing, wild audience members. If there was any doubt about a punk scene in Houston still being around, this performance completely dissolved that. From song one, excited audience members were rocking out, fully embracing the high energy put out by the band. To quote one enthusiastic audience member, “these are the dudes that got me into punk!” There were no recycled age jokes tossed around the Face to Face stage, just raw musical performance. This set brought out all the expected behaviors at a rowdy show: crowd surfing, moshing, thrashing. It was damn near impossible to not be enjoying the set. Due to local noise restrictions, the show was pulled at eleven, but the band and the crowd were hungry for more. Audience members chanted for five more songs, demanding the band hit the stage again. Unfortunately, when HPD shuts the show down, it tends to stay shut down.
The lust for punk in the Houston area is so apparent that we can not wait to see the kind of crowd to be found at Houston Punkfest this weekend on April 28th. Houston does rock, you just apparently need to be at a Less Than Jake x Face to Face performance!