Review and pics: Less Than Jake, Mariachi El Bronx, Kemuri, The Skints and AMFX

It's hot, sticky and has a hint of cinnamon that burns your throat - yep, it's Fireball Whisky, and its brand new tour made its third stop at Birmingham's O2 Academy last night.

Review and pics: Less Than Jake, Mariachi El Bronx, Kemuri, The Skints and AMFX

Less Than Jake. All pics by Becci Stanley

To add to the party atmosphere, Fireball sought out some of the most raging party animals in the form of ska, punk, and even mariachi to encapsulate their ethos.

I don't think even they bargained for the outcome they got.

First up were local band and winners of the Fireball competition to play the show, AMFX. The excitement they had to be onstage with their heroes could almost be touched as they buzzed across the stage like electrons, grins plastered across their faces from ear to ear.

With a quiet room, it was hard for the band to create much of an atmosphere, but they made up for that with their sheer enthusiasm which highlighted the talent that helped then win this spot.

I can't talk about happy without mentioning Japanese offering Kemuri - quite possibly the embodiment of hope and positive mental attitude.
They spent much of their set getting the crowd to hug, tell each other they loved each other, scream "happy" in Japanese and copy a cartoon dance move - it was all very bizarre but an experience that will always live with me.

The band's lightning-fast ska offerings got everyone's feet tapping and arms in the air, letting the positivity Kemuri relayed flow through them and take control.

From a mental high to down in the gritty, industrial streets of London, ska/punk masters The Skints took it back to old school.

I stood there with my jaw agape for the whole set, simply in awe of the sheer talent I got to be in the presence of - with various instrument changes so fluid it was as if they and their instruments were one, with bars so fast I felt my heartbeat change, and lyrics so raw I felt that same racing heart break.

Despite this sombre lyrical offering, The Skints know how to start a party, frequently interacting with the crowd and dancing across the stage as if no one else was there.

A sore thumb on the bill, Mariachi El Bring were, well, a mariachi band amongst ska bands.
mariachi el bronx
Mariachi El Bronx
They are true showmen through and through - highlighting and exhibitionist instruments many of the crowd have not seen before and delighting them with technical solos.

Coupled with their delightfully garish costumes, infectious dance moves, movie script lyrics and two fighting men dressed as Mexicans in the crowd - they immediately took control of the party atmosphere and knocked it up to another gear. 

Chris Demakes of Less Than Jake told us to expect the unexpected at their show, but I was certainly not expecting was them to take to the stage with a classical music backing with him in a full Union Flag-inspired suit.

What's more, I definitely did not expect confetti canons, toilet paper guns, and evil kid to take to the stage frequently to cause mischief and mayhem with the dancing crowd members encourage onstage. 

That is Less Than Jake all over - a whirlwind of chaos designed to spread happiness.

They delighted crowds to a number of rarities and old songs that gave them the fame they have today, as well as hit singles Hello Rock view and All My Friends are Metal Heads.

More than 20 years since their first release, Less Than Jake still champion the raw punk energy that they started with and they showcased this with their razor sharp chords, visceral vocals, thrashing drums and booming bass over their fun-loving, party-animal lyrics. 

Everyone left on an emotional high, ready to party and take the world by storm, achieved with a unique blend of ska music and cinnamon liqueur. 

The night was expertly put together with a variety of bands that complimented each others styles to no end - and I, for one, hope the Fireball Tour continues to flourish for years to come

By Becci Stanley
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