As I predicted yesterday, I was way in the back for the show, so I didn’t get any pictures or videos. There should be ample shots available though. It seems like every douchebag with an iPhone took about twenty shots, holding the iPhone up above their heads to get that perfect blurry image that you can kind of tell is Ted Leo and The Pharmacists as long as someone tells you that’s who it is. Since I don’t have any photos I’m stuck with the ridiculous challenge of describing to you how amazing the show was using only words-a feat I doubt I have the lexicon to accomplish, so I’ll keep it short.
We skipped the opener entirely, opting to chill in the side room/bar and talk about how terrible the Bears, White Sox, and Cubs are. Maybe I missed something by not watching The Eternals. I don’t know. I do know that I came to see Ted Leo rip shit up, and I was not disappointed.
About thirty seconds into their performance, The Pharmacists had me completely. They could do virtually no wrong. The sonic shockwaves that Ted Leo was transmitting from the stage were knocking people to their knees in the audience. I don’t think many in attendance were prepared to be blown away so quickly. I didn’t know what to expect, so I just rolled with it. Song after song totally living up to any hype I created in my mind. Honestly, energy-wise this was one of the best shows I’ve seen in years.
The band played a good mix of older and newer stuff, and Ted played what is probably the most awkward cover of Billy Bragg’s “Between The Wars” ever seen due to his inability to remember the lyrics. It sounded good, though. When he remembered how it went. I was surprised how early they played “Me and Mia,” which I consider to be his best known song. Usually bands hold songs like that for the end, but I think they knew that the people present at Fireside Bowl were more than casual fans. Many of them had apparently seen his free show the night before at Milennium Park.
Speaking of Fireside Bowl, can I just say that I am really glad they started putting on shows again. It’s small, and if you don’t get there early, you probably won’t be able to see anything, but for a small number of people seeing a band they really love, I couldn’t think of a better venue (for a slightly larger number of people-Schubas). There have been a great many amazing bands at Fireside, and I’m glad that tradition will continue.
One thing that surprised me, but really shouldn’t have, was how much jam time there was in the show. Songs that are generally three to four minutes long turned into eight minute freakouts. I never realized how talented Ted is on the guitar. And the drummer is out of this world good. There are so many tempo changes in the music they play, that I’d be completely lost. The whole band was great, and the sound was surprisingly crisp for such a small venue.
At the end of the day, the only thing that realy matters is “Was it good or not?” To answer, yes. It was good. It’s been a little over a year since I got so sweaty at a concert (Titus Andronicus at SubT). It was a great time. If you missed it, too bad. Should have bought tickets in the ten minutes they were available. Ted seems to really enjoy Chicago, so he’ll be back soon. Don’t miss it next time!