July 25, 2004

One fine day

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists gave a swell free concert this afternoon (well, yesterday, I guess, now that it's 2 AM) at the East River Amphitheater. I showed up at 5:10 or so, in time for the end of the previous band's set (they were the Natural History; I liked what I heard); Ted Leo ended up going on at about 5:30.

Today's show contrasted dramatically with my unpleasant experience at the Siren festival, which was painfully overcrowded and featured crappy sound. The crowd was small enough that even though I arrived (as I did at the Siren festival) just before the last band was about to start, I ended up standing about 10 feet from the stage. I could also have sat in any number of seats in the amphitheater, but I wanted a close-up view of the guitar fingerings, because I am a dork. And despite some technical woes (Ted's effects box died early in the show), the sound mix was excellent. And the band rocked. Ted is one of those guitarists who gets all twitchy and hyper when he solos; he looks like he is constantly in danger of twisting an ankle. Three new songs got played (all winners), and a cover of "Suspect Device" by Stiff Little Fingers. For an encore, three enthusiastic young audience members got invited up on stage to sing along with "Ballad of the Sin Eater". Fun.

I'm just glad the show happened at all, since there seems to be a curse involved whenever Ted Leo tries to play a free show. Last month he played at South Street Seaport and got rained out halfway through the set, and the previous year his concert coincided with the big blackout (although he managed to play anyway, by plugging in the amps in a Starbucks truck). After all that, overcast skies and a busted effects box seem like pretty minor problems.

(Treat yourself to a download of "Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone" here. Or just take my word for it and buy his latest CD.)

Posted by Francis at 02:16 AM