Enthusiasm is the intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval. Many describe it as infectious. I would go with it as the theme of the amazing lineup of a tour. This night’s tour package had Less than Jake and Face to Face co-headlining with Direct Hit and Jukebox Romantics along for the ride. All four of these bands brought a large amount of enthusiasm to their night’s performances.
Opening up was the only band I was unfamiliar with going in, the Jukebox Romantics. The three piece from New York was a blast from the beginning. Both Bob, on bass, and Terry, on guitar, were all over that stage as they performed. Their love for performing was apparent immediately. By their animating performance you could see exactly why they ended up on this tour with bands just as expressive.
Their sound is a fast paced, melodic punk rock in the same vein as the guys to follow them, Direct Hit. With Jukebox Romantic’s set setting the tone, I knew I was in for one of my favorite nights of live music.
That energy did not dwindle slightly with Direct Hit right after them. These guys may be the pinnacle example of personality on that stage. Nick is intense up there as he moves and sings the lead vocals. Devon and Steven matched that intensity as they played their respective instruments and sang. That just makes it more apparent why these guys make up such blend of guys in the band.
The set was what I come to expect from them, with energy just infecting the crowd. I was able to be by a couple guys bouncing around the entire time and share in their fun. The songs were a solid mix of old and new Direct Hit tracks. Nick closed out the set by singing through a towel that just adds to the charm he brings to that stage. Direct Hit is a band that continues to put forth performances that just slay. Despite that making it an arduous time waiting until next I will get to see them, I can’t wait.
Then was Less than Jake. A band you have probably seen me gush plenty about. They sit atop my favorite all time bands with NOFX. This set was more of what makes me continue to love watching them play. Of course, it comes with Chris’s usual egging on the audience. This time playing on the fact he knew the local feelings on Scottsdale. It was not all sarcastic praise of Scottsdale though as he made a play for a large pool pit. He told the audience that he was informed the biggest at BLK Live was forty people for Puddle of Mudd. With a string of booing at that thought, audience members started jumping in to beat that number. Whether it was true or not, he knows how to play to an audience.
There was no lack of movement or motion from anyone in this band, from JR on stage right to Roger on stage left. Buddy is the one that I would say moves the most, engaging with audience members wherever in front of him. Thanks to a good friend Ed, I got to jump and mosh around a little without worry of my camera taking any hits. It is hard for me to stay put for a Less than Jake set at the end of the day so that just added to my enjoyment of the night. It was another enjoyable Less than Jake set for me.
Last was the other co-headliner, Face to Face. Talk about a one eighty, we had Trever knowing the punk crowd isn’t a huge fan of Scottsdale. His talking points were more to sharing the opinion than Chris prior. Scott and Dennis were all over that stage matching the enthusiasm of the prior three bands with ease. These guys brought out the biggest circle pit on dry land of the four.
A touching part of their set was they let this family, presumably teachers, with their kids in their #redfored shirts sit side stage. Through the set Scott and Trevor occasionally going over to play a few parts of songs directly in front of them, giving one of the kids a guitar pick. They came out from their encore to do two more, including a favorite personal favorite cover of the Descendents “Bickage.” By the end of this night, I was on such a natural high. Face to Face closed it out in fantastic fashion, on top of all the superb performances prior. This night was four bands of excellent music with a crowd that only matched it making for my favorite show of the year so far.