Mixing elements of punk, folk and indie rock, Ted Leo began his career in the ‘80s in the New York hardcore scene with Citizen’s Arrest and Animal Crackers. He later became the main songwriter for Chisel in the late ‘90s before collaborating with the Pharmacists in the early 2000s. The prolific songwriter tackles issues concerning the undeserved and disadvantaged citizens of this nation who are overlooked by those in charge. The east coast musician fights for truth and it is evident in his music. At the Teragram Ballroom, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists had a lot to say with their raucous tunes and bittersweet angst for rock and roll music.
The show began with New York lo-fi rockers IAN SWEET and their moody rock tunes that scratched and clawed for attention. They crowd gave them all the loved they asked for as Jilian Medford commanded the stage with her outstanding track, “#23.” Hearts stopped as the Pharmacists’ saxophonist Adrienne Berry joined the trio and belted out harmonies on “Slime Time.” The jazz-influenced sax solo took the track into a whole new level as Medford shouted out the lyrics, “I’ll re-enact Slime Time Live, no other contestants just me gettin’ slimed.”
As the crowd was sufficiently warmed up by the opener, Ted Leo and his crew of Pharmacists made their way to the stage ready for a night to remember. Joining Leo was James Canty (guitar), Adrienne Berry (saxophone), Chris Wilson (drums), Ralph Darden (guitar) and Marty Key on bass. Their latest album, The Hanged Man, was released in part via a Kickstarter campaign and began show began with the first track off that album, “Moon out of Phase.” The quickly turned up the gas as they kicked it into high gear with the superb track, “The Sons of Cain,” off their 2007 release Living with the Living. Leo was very comfortable speaking to the audience with his political banter knowing they were on his side. He spoke from experience and pleaded the audience to write their congressmen and women for equality for all, especially with the current debate on healthcare.
He thanks for crowd and commented on his past and how relevant it is to the present, “There was a time when I had to get involved with the AV Club comment sections to explain why I don’t think rock shows are the best place to convert somebody way of thinking. It’s been long enough now that I could say, for example, it’s fucking ridiculous that we’re still litigating the idea that health care is a fucking human right.” The crowd exploded in applause as they felt the same sentiment over the issue. Leo commented on the sad nature of politicians and essentially a long winded intro, as he put it, to the next track, “Heart Problems.” They hammered out multiple hits including their latest single “Can’t Go Back” which has a funny infomercial style music video directed by Rachel Lichtman. The even brought out special guests to sing on “Let’s Stay on the Moon” including Aimee Mann and Paul F. Tompkins.
The set was phenomenal as Ted Leo and the Pharmacists covered their entire catalogue reaching back to their first release as a full band The Tyranny of Distance. Their latest album The Hanged Man is out now on with a tour reaching across the U.S. hitting major cities between San Diego, CA and Portland, Maine. Be sure to catch this rare and amazing band at a live show.
Moon out of Phase
The Songs of Cain
Mourning in America
Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?
Can’t Go Back
The Angels’ Share
The High Party
Used to Believe
You’re Like Me
Me and Mia
Parallel or Together
Run to the City
William Weld in the 21st Century
Bottled In Cork
Under the Hedge
Let’s Stay on the Moon