Monday, July 11, 2011

Live: Ted Leo with Screaming Females @ South Street Seaport 7.9.11

Like a lot of things that started awesome with Superchunk and then went down the shitter, the Siren Fest, much like the Voice, has become a total horror show of trendy music no one will care about in less than a year. It took a bit for the Voice to realize, but they have rejiggered the whole thing into a series of shows taking place down at the Seaport.

As you might surmise for the poster, this was the kickoff to the new Festival, redubbed 4Knots and featured the twin NJ draws of new favorites Screaming Females opening for Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, who were celebrating their tenth anniversary by playing their Tyranny Of Distance record in its entirety. You couldn't beat the price, or the biking distance, so I figured I'd show up early for the end of the Females, catch half of the Ted set and bail. I rolled up to a sparse crowd and ran into the estimable John Cake and caught up for a bit while the Females set up.

I had seen the much lauded Screaming Females at some NYU thing last Summer and was pretty underwhelmed. The female (of which there is only one) does have some chops on guitar, although she seems to use the same scale every solo, and doesn't scream all the time, for the record. I'm still in the meh camp, although they are a fair share better than 90% of the local NYC nightmares around currently.

Jersey has been holding it down of late, with Titus Andronicus, the Females and a gang of Hub City kids making quite a racket. Ted Leo reminds us that there was a heyday before the second decade of the 21st Century and that he was there in a good part of the end of last century, to boot. I've seen a lot of Ted over the last 20 years, starting with a gang of pretty great Chisel shows at Maxwells a million years ago and still remember pretty fondly seeing Ted and his reel to reel seemingly every weekend at Brownies for months in the mid 90s. He's been so ubiquitous, and frankly the rooms have gotten so big, that I've demurred over the last couple years, but always seemed to see Ted & the boys every six months anyway. The Citizen's Arrest set the other night reminded me that I was probably due to take in a Pharmacists set, plus I hadn't seen Alex in a bit, so up I/we posted.

This was the first four-piece Pharmacists show I'd seen in a bit, with Canty back on second guitar. Ted really does bring it. He's posi without being an asshole, and he seems like a good guy to have a drink with. They are pretty untouchable as a band, too, evoking The Clash, Celtic Music and good old fashioned punk rock without resorting to samples or keys. Opening with Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone and testing the waters with a couple more before sallying forth into Tyranny, even dutifully stopping for the figurative flipping of the side. Ted & Co are the only franchises around that can even hold a candle to The Figgs or Hold Steady when it comes to bringing it at a live show. The crowd was in the palm of his hand from the jump and the Pharmacists dutifully dispensed the medicine. It's horrible to think that it's been ten years since Tyranny dropped, but unlike the Voice, Ted Leo and The Pharmacists are definitely getting better with age.


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