I don’t know that I have ever seen a musician more determined to play a gig than John Cozz was to play this one. After finding out that Chris DeMakes from Less than Jake was going to be playing FM in Jersey City on June 26th, Cozz knew he needed to be on that line up. He made facebook post after facebook post pleading his case and got just about all his friends to join in with him. He was able to get the attention of both FM and Chris DeMakes, who at their show together last night commented that he was happy to have someone so eager to play with him. It was nearly all in vein too, as John Cozz was playing with his trusty Rippers whose bassist got stuck at an architectural site in Connecticut and had to miss the show. Luckily guitarist Max Rauch was able to step in last minute. He was rockin the fuck out on stage, my man played so well you’d never guess he was a last minute replacement. John Cozz played a number of songs from his last couple albums, and all of them sounded great with the backing of a full band. It was especially great hearing the songs from his new album Deep Fried, like Dollar Dumplings which recently got the music video treatment. John Cozz’s music definitely has an added dimension live and last night he showed why he’s one of the best indie rockers coming out of the Garden State right now.
Right after Cozz and the Rippers hopped off Chris DeMakes hopped on stage with nothing but an acoustic guitar. Less Than Jake is a band with a hefty horn section and I wasn’t sure how he was going to be performing these songs without the horns, but man you’d be shocked how much presence some really quick strumming can have. He played a cavalcade of LTJ favorites and any cover that anyone shouted out, including a cover of Unity by Operation Ivy that had everyone singing along. The crowd was made mostly up of people who had clearly been to a Less Than Jake show or two before, and it felt more like a famous cousin playing at a family barbeque than it did a concert. Chris, in fact shouted out his cousin who made the gig even though she had recently had her gallbladder removed. He also recognized a fella named Josh in the front of the crowd from a previous show and congratulated him on his two year anniversary with his girlfriend, shouting out the two of them throughout the show. As the night unfolded and the more Chris chatted with the crowd, the more characters we discovered. One guy yelled to make sure nobody put him on social media because he was avoiding going down to meet his wife and kids down the shore. Chris told stories about Gainsville and shows past and eventually started talking about how he was just hanging with Dustin Diamond aka Screech from Saved By the Bell. Chris and John Cozz then got goaded into FaceTiming Screech together after some audience chatter about Screech’s post SBTB career, and when they connected Screech informed the crowd that he funnily enough had just taken off his official Less Than Jake cock-ring. Chris sounded great through the entire show, even remarking that he felt like he was hitting notes that he doesn’t usually hit. It was a fantastic set that felt like a family affair. It was not surprising that Chris DeMakes is the kind of guy whose happy to share the stage with another musician whose willing to make a pitch as strong as John Cozz did, and it was not at all surprising to hear that half the crowd already had tickets to see Less Than Jake in Atlantic City tomorrow night. Chris came off as a fantastic human being, and proved that even without a full backing band he’s got enough stories and jams to be one hell of a performer on his own. Ska isn’t dead, its just getting a little older.