Long live rock, I need it every night

Friday, December 14, 2007

I thought I would hate you

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - December 8, 2007 at the 9:30 Club, $15

If you wanted a RockClub preview / back story for this show, you've probably already read it. As Jim-dick-ski already pointed out, my review of this show is so yesterday's news that I'm not sure why I am even bothering to spend any time on it now. But I was waiting for Dumbo-lice to write his review from the week before, as a courtesy. As much as I want it to be a civil, gentlemanly fellowship, RockClub isn't the US Senate from the 1980s. It's a back-stabbing, hyper-critical, homophobic, and ultimately ineffectual enterprise full of self-promotion. So it's more like the US Senate of today.

Since Ted Leo likes to talk politics in his music, I've given my little nod to the local industry as well. That's what happens when you live in Capital City.

I'll get to the point for once. I didn't think I would like this show. I have two of Theo and the Leo-cons albums, but I don't really listen to either of them. I picked this show as my pick of the week for 3 reasons.
1. Jumboslice really wanted to see them.
2. As a local act with prominence (with a ticket under $20), they deserve serious consideration.
3. It fit within my schedule.

As I said, I didn't think I would like this show. In preparation for the concert, I loaded the two albums to my iPod shuffle and listened more intently on my way to and fro work. I enjoyed a few songs here and there, especially the "Ballad of the Sin Eater," referenced above. But too often, I cringed at Ted Leo's oscillating voice. It reminds me of Travis Morrison, but in a more annoying way. Thankfully, this vocal signature is lost in live performances, at least for me. And that made all the difference.

I won't pretend to know a lot about this group/Mr. Leo specifically. I read what was written on wikipedia; you can too. I won't pretend to give you some earth-shattering insight into the show. It was a week ago, any how. Who cares now, anyway, right?

So here's what I can offer you:

The 9:30 Club looks better with those Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling. They should do more of that sort of thing year round. It adds something to the venue that is otherwise lacking. What that thing is, I don't know. But it was a nice enhancement. Maybe like ribbed condoms. Just a little something extra.

I guess Ted + are known for covering other bands' songs. Ted was mocking someone close to the stage about this at the top of the show. Paraphrasing, "You want us to play that song? That cover? The really good one?" I like it when bands play covers. I think more of them should do it. I don't see why they don't. On this Saturday night, the cover that stuck out was the cover of Daft Punk's "One More Time." I hate the damn song. Was that song in A Nightmare at the Roxbury? I feel like it was. It is painful to hear. But it was made more palatable by Ted Leo. I recognized it, which is a major benefit of a cover, and it didn't leave me with the fingernails on chalkboard sensation that the original version does. So job well done.

The last song that I heard TL/Rx perform was the aforementioned "Ballad of the Sin Eater." I guess there is a reason that they played it "last," and that this is the one song that I generally gravitate to. It must be the song all the wannabe Ted Leo fans like. Well, count me in I guess. I heard it and was satisfied. The lights came on, music came on over the PA, and we left. Apparently Ted Leo & Co. came back for more. But honestly, I had had enough by then. As had the rest of RC, I think.

On to my rating for this show... Could Ted Leo and The Pharmacists' music help get me action? I don't think so. It might not be their fault, but their music strikes me as appealing to a rather narrow female audience. Perhaps there are few Tina Fey-types out there whose inhibitions are lowered by not-so-subtle political rant anthems, but that seems like a long shot. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by this show. I didn't hate it. I didn't even dislike it. I'll go so far as to say I enjoyed it.

P.S. The drummer (Chris Wilson) reminded me a lot of Jeff Daniels.


Jimbromski said...

I liked this show and didn't think I would.

He played fast and loud, that's usually good enough for me. Banter was kept to a minimum.

I wouldn't call this a pleasant "surprise" since I'd seen him a couple of times before, but it wasn't what I had expected.

Jimbromski said...

You're also right about covers, more bands should do that.