LIVE REVIEW & PHOTOS: Less Than Jake, Ballyhoo!, Kill Lincoln

Kids love ska music. It’s just how it is. It’s fast, it’s loud, but at the same time is so easy to dance to. It’s really not that hard to digest, so really anyone can go to ska shows and have a great time. Don’t like the loud guitars? Here’s some trumpets for you. Don’t like the ska dancing? Here’s a fast break that you can mosh to. If you were or are a teenager with any sort of connection to the punk scene at all, you probably have listened to ska at one point in your life. And for that matter, you probably also listened to Less than Jake. Less Than Jake is on their 20th year as a band, and I recently saw them with my good friend Emily play at the Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington, DC. Having never seen the band before, I knew I was in for quite the experience since the show was being held at a hole in the wall type bar, rather than their normal large venue shows they sell out.The first band of the night was local DC ska-punks Kill Lincoln. For those who aren’t familiar, DC doesn’t have that huge of a ska scene. I wouldn’t even say we
have a ska scene at all. Kill Lincoln is single handedly kept the genre alive in DC as they absolutely tore up the venue. The band is a perfect blend of punk and ska, and depending on the song you can hear the different facets of the group. With two trombone players and a saxophone player, the brass commanded the stage, but they didn’t hesistate to hit you with a nice breakdown here and there that got all of the punks

Ballyhoo!, Photo by Tyler Osborne

excited.  The crowd was participating, many of which I don’t believe knew the band beforehand, and that is so awesome to see. If Kill Lincoln keeps up the great recordings (you can get their record for free here, seriously don’t be an idiot) and tours some more, I really think this band has a very bright future ahead of them. I also talked to their singer Mike after their set and they should be releasing a new EP soon, so I’m really excited to hear what they have in store for us next.

Next up was Ballyhoo! from Maryland, and to be completely frank, they were not quite my thing. I’ve never been huge into the more reggae influenced ska, but I can definitely tell you that they are good at what they do. They had a variety of sounds and were very danceable, but they just didn’t do it for me. You may like them more than I, but it did little to keep my attention.

Less Than Jake, Photo By Tyler Osborne

Less than Jake was on last, and they showcased why they have been able to not only be a band for 20 years, but stay relevant to a sold out crowd. They played a ton of great songs, not just hits but some deep cuts, and they made sure the crowd was involved the entire time. Bass player Roger was the most fun to watch out of the group, cause he genuinely seemed to be having a marvelous time. The brass section of Less than Jake was firing on all cylinders, may it have been during a trombone break or dancing around the stage when they weren’t playing. You could tell the group loved the music they played, and it’s really good to see an older band continuing to play. One gripe I feel is necessary to mention happened towards the end of the show. Less Than Jake showed up a little late to the show it seemed, and while I understand that it happens, I feel since punk and ska is such a niche and tight knit community, the band should have made a point to watch the openers play. While they have been around for a while and I’m sure they are no strangers to openers, it bummed me out a bit when the singer had to ask one of the stage hands who played before them right in front of both the opening bands. It’s a common courtesy I think all bands, no matter how big you are, should respect as they all started in the same place. Hell, they could loved one of the openers and felt compelled to help them out.

All in all, Less than Jake killed their set, and ended the night off right. Summer is about hanging out with your best friends, going to shows, and just having a good time. Ska music is a perfect combination of all these things, so for me, seeing Less than Jake and Kill Lincoln was a perfect start to my upcoming summer. If you have the chance to see them when they come through your town, make sure you do so. If you also need new summer jams and want to be on board with a band before they make it huge, check out Kill Lincoln’s debut release. Summer is imminent, let’s have some fun.

Written By: Tyler Osborne (Follow Tyler on Twitter, his life is basically one giant Hatebreed song)

Photos By: Tyler Osborne + Emily Guilfoil (Follow Emily on Twitter, she watches an excessive amount of (good) television and has a loves the Jonas Brothers. She’s a wildcard.)

Photo by Emily Guilfoil


Tyler Osborne

Live in DC, grew up in PA. I specialize in writing, filming and taking pictures about punk, pop-punk, and hardcore music, and I also have a huge background in film as well. When not on the site, i'm running my own internet radio show, ToZ's Edge Radio ( I also love stage diving and goldfish.
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  • Cworks434

    i tried to go in DC but it sold out and i was headed up to bamboozle anyways. glad to see Kill Lincoln get noticed here. DC has alot of good bands currently that are keeping its punk roots alive but not getting noticed for it.

  • I totally agree man, DC has a lot of great talent right now but for some reason they just get overlooked. We’re really trying to change that though. Kill Lincoln is such an awesome band, and thanks for the read!