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TED LEO AND THE PHARMACISTS, THE ETERNALS, THE A SIDES
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Ted Leo at the Gargoyl e October 10, 2007
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Issue 138 Streams N Demos (Narrow Waves)

Wednesday October 10, 2007 The Gargoyle, Wash U, St. Louis

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The A Sides

In the course of doing the fanzine (and now the website) I have come across a bunch of bands that have inspired me to check them out whenever I get a chance. In some cases they're local bands thus making seeing them live relatively easy. In other cases the bands are on tour and in some instances arrangements have to be made to check them out. This show was in the general region but one of those I knew would be worth checking out.

Playing first tonight was a band called the A Sides from Philadelphia. Since I knew absolutely nothing about them I was up for anything and ready for a surprise. This quintet played a mid tempo set of indie pop with roots lying somewhere between shoegazer and emo (to my ears anyway)> While the potential to rock was here those moments seemed to be restrained by the band playing up the more introspective and atmospheric angles. Unfortunately, what they played up in their songs weren't their strong suit and they appeared to be more copying current hipster tastes than actually being creative. They'd be a decent rock band here if the A Sides played up the guitars and edgier factors of their material and moved the effects and keyboards back a little. A lot of the crowd up front thought this band was the best thing since sliced shit so I realize my take on them isn't universal. For now though the verdict is out on The A Sides though currently I'm not impressed.

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The Eternals

I'll admit I never heard of the Eternals before they set up to play the middle slot of this bill tonight. This trio from Chicago wasted no time in dishing out a set of post punk influenced dance rock with a nod towards rap, dub and experimental sounds. Utilizing just keyboards, samples, drums, and bass guitar, the band dealt out groove laden songs that almost dared ya not to move in the process. Eschewing much of the possible cliches of the subgenre, the Eternals proved themselves with a combination of tight flow and a very much more inventive take on subject matter than expected for anything with ties to rap in this age. Crowd wise this was a polarizing band with people being either really into it or not liking it at all. However, the Eternals kept the vibe going throughout their set with a feel and edge that demanded a response. You need to check out the Eternals if you get the chance - trust me on this one.

Then it was time for Ted Leo and the Pharmacists to perform. The latest incarnation didn't so much take the stage as conquer it with the quartet driving their songs home with no mercy and enough power to keep a small city functioning. Mixing old and new material much of the set was rooted in the band's trademark hard driving, power pop cum punk blend of catchy as hell hooks, often socially and politically conscious songs and guitar driven heaviness. However, their newer material also veered into direction ranging from HC punk to the reggae leanings of "Crying Over You" taking us into unexpected yet familiar ground. For me, the high points were nearly shouting myself almost hoarse with the chorus of the new HC classic "Bomb Repeat Bomb" and an encore with Ted's cover of the Chumbawmaba song "Rappaport's Testament (I Never Gave Up)" which brought the house down. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists have been known for shows that kick ass and take names - tonight was no exception.

Musically it was an excellent show for the most part. However, I will say some parts of the crowd annoyed me. Maybe it's the show being free to Wash U students brining in people who don't really get the music, but there seemed to be some people there who were unaware of the underground and community this music comes from - and didn't give a fuck (a case in point being some wannabe hipster girl who seemed to go just hoping to hear Ted's unreleased version of Kelly Clarkson's "Since You've Been Gone" and wasn't into anything else). Hopefully I got these people wrong but in an age when people who claim to be punk or indie are unaware of scene foundations such as fanzines or the DIY movement, it's easy to get jaded. Still, even that bullshit, didn't stop me from appreciating the music and realizing I was at a place I needed to be.

- Boone

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Ted and Chris in action

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