As part of the fifth anniversary of Johnny Brenda’s as a live music venue, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists were invited to perform. Not only did they perform a 21 and over show the night before at the same venue, but they also added this all-ages matinee. I opted to attend this one because I attended another show the previous evening. The timing of the show and its proximity to Festival Pier also gave me the opportunity to not miss the bands I wanted to see at Riot Fest later that day while checking out the always awesome Ted Leo. Thus, it was a win-win. Of the many times I’ve seen Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, I’d never had the chance to see them in such a great-sounding and intimate room and so this show was special for that reason as well. Coming off a performance of 2001’s The Tyranny of Distance a few weeks prior in New York, Leo performed “Biomusicology” from that record. It turned out that an audience member covered it and wanted to give his version to Leo. I wonder what he thought of it. The set also touched on every album in his catalog since, including 2003’s career-best Hearts of Oak. “The High Party” is always a highlight of any Ted Leo set for me and “The Ballad of the Sin Eater” just roared in this venue, as did The Specials (lyrically) and Thin Lizzy (musically) referencing “Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?”. After another audience member yelled out for Stiff Little Fingers‘ “Suspect Device” (which Leo has covered both live in the past), the afternoon was full of jokes about the catalog of Jake Burns and company, thus adding to the fun and festive atmosphere.
I was only able to catch one song of openers Dry Feet, but much like their set opening for Fucked Up and Jeff the Brotherhood at the First Unitarian Church back in June (review here), I was impressed with their hyperactive, mostly instrumental surf punk style (enough that I bought their 7” this time around) and look forward to seeing them in the future.