Ted Leo and the Pharmacists at Churchill's Pub, October 30

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

With Deaf Poets and Pujol

Churchill's Pub

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Better Than: Bobbing for apples in the rain

It's been a weird Halloween, right? And not the good kind of weird.

Last Halloween, after an extended series of poor choices, a candy raver dominatrix with a three-foot yarn wig kidnapped us and forced us to play chicken on US-1 while blasting Ke$ha. That was good weird.

This Halloween? Uh, can someone tell us which day it's even supposed to be? Everywhere we went over the weekend, there was like six people in costume, because no one could decide when this shit is actually supposed to go down. And don't get us started on the rain.

Though this past holiday weekend was a constant storm cloud, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists shone through like a beaming Bat Signal of posi for the people of power pop.

But before Leo's sun-shining rays provided us with some relief, we were lost in the fog of the weekend's constantly nightmarish logistics. We arrived at Churchill's Pub in a torrential downpour and it seemed the show hadn't started yet. Maybe 50 people were milling about the bar in anticipation, until Ted Leo took the stage to apologize for the wait and explain he would be taking the stage soon.

Apparently, the show had somehow jumped so far ahead of schedule that both openers had already played their full sets. Sorry we missed you Deaf Poets and Pujol!

After some quips and requests to keep smoking to a minimum, Leo and the Pharmacists lunged, full speed ahead, into their 16-song set.

When we here at Crossfade spoke to Ted Leo last week, he strongly located his musical identity within the grand lineage of punk and we admit the speed, song structure, and vocals belong to the melodic pop-punk canon. But last night, we couldn't stop comparing the Pharmacists to Cheap Trick. The tone, riffage, and hooks all harkened back in a big way to the band that made Japanese girls go wild when Rivers Cuomo was still in diapers.

Though leading a straightforward rock band, Ted Leo makes up for innovation with invitation. That is, the invitation to dance, sing along, and dare-to-heckle, as it seems Mr. Leo is ready and willing to field and respond to every last jeer and taunt.

In our interview with him, Leo described sentimental, accessible music as an excellent tool for fostering a "cathartic community moment." And the smiles plastered on the faces populating Churchill's Pub last night proved he and his Pharmacists are masters of that tool.

Critic's Notebook

The Crowd: We would venture this was 70 percent diehard Ted Leo fans, 20 percent casual concert-goers, and 10 percent other. No one was dressed outlandishly. There were a smattering of Halloween costumes, including a dude in full Egyptian pharaoh regalia.

Random Detail: The bathroom graffiti at Churchill's is a living document of insanity.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists' Setlist

-"Heart Problems"

-"The Sons of Cain"

-"The Mighty Sparrow"

-"Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?"

-"Mourning in America"

-"Me And Mia"

-"The One Who Got Us Out"

-"Even Heroes Have To Die"

-"The Stick"

-"The High Party"

-"untitled" (new song)

-"Little Dawn"

-"Bottled In Cork"

-"Timorous Me"

-"Tell Bageary, Balgury Is Dead"

-"St. John The Divine"

Follow Crossfade on Facebook and Twitter @Crossfade_SFL.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Matt Preira