The beer garden was scattered with small groups of people talking amongst themselves, waiting for the headlining act of the night to take the stage. It was approaching midnight, but concert-goers were still high with energy after the three opening acts.
Less Than Jake, a punk-rock band that started in Gainesville 23 years ago, was the headliner for Saturday and Sunday’s fourth annual Wake ‘n’ Bake Weekend at the High Dive in downtown Gainesville. Less Than Jake played alongside The Supervillains, Kash’d Out and Mrs. Skannotto.
Less Than Jake’s saxophone player, Peter “JR” Wasilewski, said coming to Gainesville is like taking a break and coming back home.
“We see our families, kids, pets and houses,” Wasilewski said. “Gainesville is home.”
People from all over the world and country came to Gainesville on Labor Day weekend to see Less Than Jake perform.
Grace Frawley, 21, drove five hours from Miami, Florida to see Less Than Jake play at the event for the second year in a row and to shop the band’s unique and unconventional band merchandise.
“I’ve been a fan of Less Than Jake since I was about 16 years old,” Frawley said. “I’ve been listening to them and following them since.”
One fan came from Venezuela to see the band play. He received a shout out from the band’s guitarist, Chris Demakes, who thanked him multiple times throughout their set for his dedication to the band.
“They fly in from all over the world to come and see this thing, our hometown shows, because we only play here once a year,” Wasilewski said. “This is it.”
When asked how it feels to have multiple generations attending their shows, Wasilewski chuckled.
“I hope we’re good,” he said.
“I think that it’s cool and that we’re lucky enough to have people who have been seeing us for 20 years and then people who have never seen us before,” Wasilewski said. “They’re going to be in that room and they’re going to exchange that energy.”
Being a band that started in the early ‘90s and now has nine studio albums under their belt, Wasilewski said they didn’t feel pressure to put out music in order to stay relevant with fans and in the industry.
“To write new music is important but writing the correct new music is important too,” Wasilewski said.
“If we don’t do the best, then there’s no sense in putting it out, you know what I mean?” he said.
The band is also known by their fans for their wacky band merchandise and show experiences. At the show on Saturday, there were booths selling Less Than Jake yo-yos, mugs and multiple T-shirts designed by the band.
“I think it fits their style to sell random stuff like a floor mat because no one would buy a Slipknot floor mat, for example,” Frawley said. “People will buy a Less Than Jake coffee mug and matching floor mat, though. It just makes sense.”
Less Than Jake went on Saturday at midnight to a crowd screaming back the lyrics to almost every song. They had a mascot walking around the stage and machines that rolled out toilet paper to the crowd.
The band stopped in Gainesville for Wake ‘n’ Bake weekend before taking off on their Japan and Australia tour this fall.
Wasilewski said Less Than Jake will start working on new music after the New Year.
When asked to confirm if it would be the band’s 10th full-length album, Wasilewski joked about being unsure of how many albums the band has.
“Sure, sounds right,” he said. “I don’t know. There’s a Wikipedia link to a discography somewhere, I’m sure.”