Thursday, June 24, 2010

Show Review: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists & Screaming Females

Downtown Milford was bustling on the gorgeous evening of June 18th; sidewalks and restaurant patios were filled with people enjoying the sunshine in what few hours of the evening remained. The most exciting thing going on in Milford that night however, was actually taking place indoors, where Ted Leo and the Pharmacists and Screaming Females were performing at Daniel Street.

The show began with Screaming Females, a three-piece outfit from New Brunswick, New Jersey who play a mix of punk and rock’n’roll. Though the members of the band look as though they are barely out of high school, all three proved to be extremely talented at their instruments; the bassist and drummer provided driving and catchy riffs/beats while front woman Marissa supplied one amazing guitar solo after another while topping off their songs with impressively strong vocals. While her short stature and mop of brown hair covering her eyes may give her a somewhat timid appearance, she is not afraid to scream, and scream often. Screaming Females’ entire set was fast-paced, with only a short introduction by Marissa a few songs into the performance to say, “Hi, we’re Screaming Females, I have to tune my guitar,” and after quickly hitting one string, the band resumed playing. Screaming Females definitely left the audience blown away and wanting more, and despite recent van troubles, they certainly did not let that affect the mood of the concert.

After a quick set-up and sound check, headliners Ted Leo and the Pharmacists abruptly opened their set with “The Mighty Sparrow,” the first track off of their newest album The Brutalist Bricks, released earlier this year on Matador Records. The night was filled with good tunes and interesting stage banter, as Ted Leo and his band mates discussed where the word “soccer” comes from, poked jokes at each other, and addressed the idea of being called a “sell-out,” with frequent interjections from members of the audience. The band played several songs off of their new album, including “Even Heroes Have to Die,” “One Polaroid a Day,” and “Bottled Up in Cork,” which Ted announced they recently made a music video for, mixed in with older fan-favorites such as “Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone” and “Counting Down the Hours.” There wasn’t much motion going on in the audience aside from several bobbing heads and a few guys in the middle of the crowd dancing, likely a result of the band’s music being on the more mellow side of the punk rock spectrum, but that doesn’t mean people weren’t into the show; a quick look around the venue showed that virtually everyone in the building was singing along, whether they only knew a couple verses or they had every word to every song memorized. After playing for well over an hour, Ted returned to the stage for a much-desired encore, playing three songs solo before the rest of the band joined him partway through the fourth, and then dedicated their last song to the members of Screaming Females. The concert ended promptly around ten-o-clock, and though it was still early for a summer Friday night, the show appeared to have left everyone satisfied.

-Chelsea Dodds

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