Road trips are becoming a more common regularity for my concert going. It is not just the big festivals either. This is a random trip to a place out of town like the Rialto in Tucson. With the opening of the Green Room up in Flagstaff, they have been bringing fantastic punk shows through the cooler climate. It is a Crescent Ballroom size venue with an excellent selection of craft beers from around the Flagstaff area. With a car lease, and limited income currently, I have fewer opportunities to get up there but have been keeping an eye on their shows. This includes multiple great shows that don’t pass through Phoenix hitting the Flagstaff venue. One of those included my all-time favorite, second only to NOFX, band in Less than Jake joined by the amazing Red City Radio and Protagonist.
Out of Florida, the guys of Protagonist bring a sound reminiscent of a Direct Hit and Nothington. It is fast paced, hard hitting, melodic punk rock. Peter’s vocals give me a Ray of Teenage Bottlerocket vibe. They have a Midwest punk sound coming out of the Southeast of the country. There is energy and enthusiasm throughout their performance.
A few songs in, the only question mark of the night’s music became a confirmation of great punk rock. I will make the effort to catch Protagonist the next time they pass through Phoenix after this performance.
Next up were guys who already passed my litmus test of amazing music, Red City Radio. This is the first time catching them since Garrett put out his amazing solo stuff. In case you wanted further confirmation what a great lead singer he is, you can check out that stuff. The entire band is superb on that stage.
They like to move, they like to get into it, and like the latter counterparts of the night, super emotive as they perform. You can see their experience touring has only enhanced their on stage interactions. Do yourself a favor if you have never listened to Red City Radio, and make sure you immediately check out their music then a show.
Last, a band that sits tattooed on my right arm in the form of Pez, Less than Jake. I haven’t missed a Less than Jake show passing through Phoenix in over fifteen years. I like to call Less than Jake my gateway Ska band. They were the band I discovered that lead me to dig into what this genre of brass and guitars was. In all the time I’ve watched them live, this is the smallest venue I have watched them perform in. Since taking up a real camera for concert photography, this was an opportunity I was not going to pass up to photograph an all-time favorite band in a small venue.
Less than Jake’s performance was as electric as usual. There were the amazing vocals of Chris and Roger serenading us throughout. Every member took advantage of the smaller venue, closer proximity to the crowd. Examples of this were Chris entertaining conversations directly with people, and Roger and Buddy emoting toward the audience as they played. Evo Kid came out to blast toilet paper and balloons out to the Green Room audience. All of this making up the charm and entertaining nature of the band that put them at the top of my music list. After the set I got to chat some with Buddy, chat about his Black Ice vinyl, photography and video production. It was a pleasurable time of music up in the Green Room that I hope to duplicate again.