TED LEO (AND THE PHARMACISTS, sometimes)
I can’t even remember how I first came across Ted Leo(it might have been Live 105) but I can barely remember a time in my life where it has felt like him and his music hasn’t been there for me.
He was the first overtly political musician that I felt like I connected with:
He made the sensitive yet energetic jams my anxious baby heart needed at 14 and still needs at 30:
A few years ago he put out his first new album in like 7 years and it was accompanied by an incredible Stereogum profile(which is only available on the wayback machine for some reason??). This profile shattered me. It’s long but very well worth the read(cw child abuse, pregnancy complications, some violence).
Anyway I had never managed to see him live through all the years. Just never lined up. That ended in 2018 when he came through and played the Rickshaw Stop in SF. Finally seeing him there, performing, talking to the crowd, making jokes. It was 15 years of expectations and admiration melting away and becoming the most natural, comforting experience I’ve ever had with live music. Anyway I cried when he finally played Me and Mia as one of the last songs in the encore:
Ted just had a massive impact on me. His music was skewed to people just slightly older than me at the time I got into it which was essential in me maturing and thinking about concepts I hadn’t before. And as he got older his music evolved to keep that kind of relationship I had with it alive. I feel like he has been teaching me for forever.
His band before TLRx/solo stuff was called Chisel and they’re great:
A band called Summer Cannibals opened for him at that show and I was arguably more blown away by them than I was TL. They just fucking brutalized that venue. Loud, energetic, charming as hell stage presence. I felt like my chest was caving in during their entire set. Since then they’ve been my favorite modern rock band.