Ted Leo and The Pharmacists @ Siren

By Brittany Borghi

Siren veterans Ted Leo and the Pharmacists brought it big time to the Main Stage last Saturday, ready to prove that they can still shake up a crowd. No stranger to the free festival, they made their first appearance at Siren in 2003, and came back to show off to a new generation.

And ya know what? They sounded great. The band is undoubtedly tight, and they had no shortage of energy onstage, stomping around and genuinely having fun. Most notable is the fact that Ted’s voice still sounds uh-MAZING; from his punctuated hisses and shouts to his ability to let it all out and wail, the guy’s pipes are a well-oiled oracular delight. It’s clear that these guys still love what they do.

The only downside is that the crowd didn’t quite share that sentiment. And I tend to agree with them. The band is impeccable live (I promise I’m not about to contradict myself) but their new stuff played back-to-back, well, it just falls flat. The sound they’re putting out is just a little too generic rock, like all of the satirical heart they had got popped by The Man’s pin. And no matter how much feedback they bled into the speakers, the crowd just wasn’t getting into it. Was it too much to ask for a little “Me and Mia”? A little “Counting Down the Hours”? I hate to hate on Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, especially for going in a new direction, but it seems like they burned the map and just landed in a dead end. They have a fever, and the only prescription is more music that sounds like what they used to sound like.

Ted Leo and The Pharmacists – “Biomusicology” [MP3]

More photos after the jump.

[All photos by James B. Hale/Knox Road from Siren Music Festival]

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