Less Than Jake & Pepper Play A Solid Night Of Ska in Seattle’s Showbox Sodo, by Holly Homan

On January 31st the Showbox Sodo hosted ska masters Less Than Jake From Gainesville, FL. This five-piece are punk/ska/pop all mixed together with a heavy dose of energy and fun.

Though the show wasn’t well attended, those who came were very enthusiastic. There was a bit of crowd surfing throughout and the entire dance floor for the entire show was a sea of bouncing bodies.

When they played “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sell Outs” someone dressed as a giant cartoon figure with a cape came on stage and strutted about, tossing goodies out to the crowd. Pepper.

Toward the end they invited a little girl about seven years old and wearing a Bad Religion tank top on stage where she danced away. And she could dance.

Trombone player Buddy Shaub was all over the stage the entire time, running from one side to the other and riling up the crowd. Less Than Jake are truly a band that enjoy performing and their audience feeds off of this. They didn’t seem to play very long though. Plus I loathe the Showbox Sodo. My guess is that it was a warehouse of sorts in a previous life as it’s just one big cavern. The sightlines are poor from anywhere but right in front of the stage and it’s hard to feel intimate with the performers. The venue definitely detracted from the quality of the show. The rest of Less Than Jake are, Roger Lima – bass, guitar and vox; chris DeMake vox/guitar; Vinnie Fiorello – drums; Roger Wasilewski – sax.

Preceding Less Than Jake was the legendary Pepper. Pepper is a three-piece outfit from Hawaii. They play a more traditional reggae style ska similar to Sublime as opposed to Less Than Jake’s more poppy/punk ska sound. The three of them were quite lively on stage, feeding off each other and the audience. Again, though, the venue detracted from the quality of the show as it was difficult for me to see much of what went on on the stage. The bands have to be one of my top favorites for me to attend a show at the Showbox Sodo, but even when the bands are great it’s difficult to enjoy a show in that venue. Pepper consist of, Kaleo Wasman – Guitar/Vocals, Bret Bollinger – Bass/ Vocals, Yesod Willams -Drums/ Vocals.

I hope next time these bands come to town they play a different venue. The club was maybe two-thirds full so perhaps the venue kept people away. I know I’m not the only one by far who loathes that club.

Unfortunately I got there late and missed the first two bands, but overall Less Than Jake and Pepper put on great shows despite the lousy venue.

Holly Homan

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