Review: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists fight through illness, go full-throttle at Crowbar in Ybor City
“No sense coddling it now,” Ted Leo told the crowd at Crowbar Tuesday night. “I’ll just leave it here, bloody, on the stage.”
The punk rock veteran was talking about his throat, which he announced was sore at the start of the show. Heaven knows what it must have been at the end.
Leo most certainly didn’t coddle his voice, pushing it as hard as ever, ready to go full-throttle until it, or he, dropped.
Leo and the his two-man band, the Pharmacists, tore into opening number, The Mighty Sparrow, with a vengeance that made the bracing version on his latest album, The Brutalist Bricks, seem tame.
Even as his voice showed increasing signs of strain, Leo never let up, taking on Where Was My Brain?, one of his hardest, fastest rockers, late in the set.
Leo joked about his plight between songs (and between honks into his handkerchief). His illness didn’t affect much else in the performance, least of all his guitar playing, dynamic and economical throughout, especially on Little Dawn.
Pharmacist drummer Chris Wilson, with his long hair, beard and beatific smile, looked more suited to a laid-back jam band than turn-on-a-dime punk rock. But his playing said otherwise, particularly on the clenched-fist tension of Mourning in America.
Leo didn’t lack for moral support. The crowd was one of the most enthusiastic in recent memory, with a small but active mosh pit breaking out early in the set.
Leo followed a set by Nashville trio Pujol, a ragtag-looking bunch that played sharp, smart punk tunes that seemed to end just as they started. Daniel Pujol had a sly, crazy-like-a-fox demeanor that provided the calm between the furious storms of his songs.
Dismiss Look Mexico as another emo crew at your own peril. The Tallahassee-born quartet, third billed Tuesday, does favor long, jokey song titles similar to those penned by a certain guy-linered Ashlee Simpson-ex. Look Mexico’s musicianship alone puts then in another league entirely. The band spotlighted songs from its just-released EP, Real Americans Spear It.
Native opened with a set of Slint-inspired post-hardcore.
-- Curtis Ross, tbt*