Friday, December 4, 2009

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists / Radio 4 / Title Tracks

Title Tracks - Another hot set from this local four-piece. The first couple of songs were great power pop with hooks and beats a plenty. The band had a great rhythmic thrust with the jangly hooks and intimate vocals on top. Fully layered sound is the key here. If they keep writing, playing, touring, they could do very very well. Fun band.

Radio 4 - I have not seen this NYC outfit for about four years. I remember at the time that I respected their sound, but I just was not terribly moved. So for the first few songs, I was pleased to think that maybe I was being a little too hard on them. The sound began a bit like Title Tracks, but with less jangle and more of an early U2 rock and eventually a kind of European post-punk pop-rock sound. Further on, different songs introduced various other forms of funk, dub, garage-pop and then I remembered specifically where I had a problem with them. They are very slick and certainly enjoyable, but I just did not feel a real unified sound or a way to really bond with them. Not that it was bad set, far from it. But it really did not command an emotional interest. And the polite crowd did seemed to be little bland in response as well.

Photo by Shawn Brackbill
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - The sold out crowd finally filled in slowly throughout the night. Leo is a big favorite in DC and delivers great shows. This one did not begin that way as there was a serious bass problem and some guitar problems. Leo played "Dirty Old Town", and old Ewan MacColl song in a good intense Billy Bragg style. So I didn't mind the problems, nor did the crowd. The band handled it well and the set began to grow more smoothly after the first four or five songs. Leo writes some fantastic pop-punk songs and the band delivers. 90 minutes of energetic pop with lots of power and feeling. This is well beyond a simple category of power pop.

Disturbing moment of the night: While choosing a urinal, I had to pick one way too close to some guy who was using both hands to write a text message. It may be less dangerous than texting while driving, but it was creepy.

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