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February 09, 2006 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-02-09

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8A -The Michigan Daily -Thursday, February 9, 2006


Jake offers
for everyone
By Trevor Campbell
Daily Arts Writer

MTV's barbershop
reality can't cut it

Years of writing, recording and touring can lead
to stressful situations and hard times. Yet Gaines-
ville, Fla. quintet Less Than
Jake has thrived for 13 years.
Perhaps it's their genre-bend- Less Than
ing style, including influences Jake
from ska, pop, punk, jazz and Tuesday
heavy metal. They've shared the
stage with the likes of Bon Jovi, St. Andrew's Hall
Bad Religion and even Snoop
Dogg. The band seems to have a little something
for everyone, which is perhaps why they've consis-
tently been able to pack venues, headline tours and
get crowds dancing for more than a decade.

Less Than Jake frontman Chris Demakes performed at St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit on Tuesday.

By Ben Megargel
Daily Arts Writer
"The Shop," MTV's latest reality-show
travesty, takes the time-worn focus on the
banalities of every-
day life to a new, The Shop
nauseating lows.
Attempting to pass Thrdays at
itself off as both a 1
real-life version of MTV
the hit film "Bar-
bershop" and a cultural pulse-taker, the
low-budget show comes off as hopelessly
unauthentic and dated.
Set in music producer Cory Rooney's
Queens barbershop, "Mr. Rooney's," the
show focuses heavily on the personalities
of the barbers. The premise is nakedly
basic: Seven barbers cut hair while engag-
ing in petty arguments, discussion about
cultural events and on-the-spot interviews
with celebrity patrons. In the pilot, a vari-
ety of small, forgettable arguments erupt
on topics as urgent and vital as, let's see,
who will sweep up the hair and whether
they should have to wear their black jack-
ets when the air conditioner breaks. It's
all groundbreaking stuff, clearly.
Music videos play on a large TV
screen, in the shop, and are used as
springboards for discussion about a par-
ticular artist or event. To top it off, urban
music stars - including rapper Tony
Yayo and singer Chris Brown - stop
in the shop, prompting a series of fluff
questions from the barbers.
The main problem here is that the

characters are just too average to draw
our interest away from our own boring
lives. Besides, everyone is essentially
reduced to a stereotype. The blunt charac-
terizations of the barbers make them feel
empty and pointless. The most insight we
get into these guys are the bouts of jeal-
ousy over who gets to cut the hair of the
celebrity customers.
This shallow bickering spills over
into the intermittent discussion about
popular topics. Instead of discussing
anything recent or politically relevant,
the barbers cover subjects that were con-
troversial months ago. From discussions
about Dave Chappelle's disappearance to
Kanye West's comments about President
Bush, there is nothing too outdated for the
barbers to rehash.
The presence of celebrities in the bar-
bershop also takes away from the show's
purported realism. B-list stars part of
Rooney's highly connected, celebrity-
stuffed network just "drop by" the shop.
These celebrity appearances are blatant
mutual promotion; the show and the
celebrity gain increased exposure. The
trite questions that the barbers ask ("Why
did you choose to sing and not rap?")
sound beyond scripted. This is not TV,
it's bad PR.
Though "The Shop" emphasizes
its realness and close proximity to the
streets, the reality it portrays is highly
dubious. No barbershop is this far behind
the times and would show any respect to
bootleg celebrities. The contrived charac-
terizations and trivial conflict render the
show more fitting as a midday MTV2
filler than a primetime MTV staple.

Demakes made

"We've had a lot of fun on these
huge package tours, but it's great
headlining because you get to call
the shots," said vocalist/guitarist
Chris Demakes about their cur-
rent tour, which made a stop at St.
Andrew's Hall on Tuesday. "We
get to vary our set more, and play
the songs that everyone wants to
hear, and you just get a better vibe
for what the crowd wants."
Originally from Livonia,
Demakes lived in metro Detroit
until he was seven.

"You learn

to make

a mockery of
yourself. You've got
to have fun with it."
- Chris Demakes
Less Than Jake vocalist/guitarist

sure to thank his family for com-
ing out to the show, and invited
the crowd to show his uncle
what a "circle pit" is. The crowd
then burst into an outright fren-
zy, bouncing around the floor of
the club and revolving around a
young girl in the middle of them
who was the designated center
of the pit.
"You learn to make a mock-
ery of yourself," Demakes said.
"You've got to have fun with it."
The humor of Demakes and
the rest of the band added to the

ing amusing anecdotes alongside corny jokes broke
the awkward silences between songs. At their stop
at St. Andrew's Hall, Demakes pulled a mother
onto the stage because she was singing along with
her daughter and thanked her for being the "cool
mom." He followed that by asking her if she knew
what a MILF was.
Surprisingly, their live shows translate well
onto their albums: Songs ranged from emotional
ballads to tracks about a friend stealing a beer
tap off of a burnout's keg. With an EP entitled
Absolution for Addicts and Idiots and their full-
length release In With the Out Crowd coming
this spring, the band has a busy future ahead of
them. They'll also head out for a full stint on this
year's Vans Warped Tour, so grab your friends,
get ready to jump around and remember that hot
moms are always welcome.

"It's great to see my relatives," Demakes said. unique atmosphere of the group's performances.
"They come out to see all of our shows here in Laughing with the crowd between songs and tell-


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