Ted Leo & The Pharmacists Captivate Sold Out Crowd


My long, drawn out, Minnesota goodbye to the legendary Triple Rock Social Club continued last night. I can not put into words how devastated I am that this city will be losing such an amazing venue. Sure, I know there are a million other venues in the Twin Cities but there’s not one quite like the Triple Rock. I love being able to walk in there on any given night and hear something completely new and different or be able to watch a legend that I have been to listening to for years. Last night was no different.

New York based Ian Sweet was the first band to take the stage. Throughout their forty minute set I was struck by singer Jillian Medford’s voice. It was soft and calm but had perfectly placed squeals and screeches that added a layer of insanity to the typically calm vibe radiating off the stage. The crowd that was filing in for the sold out show seemed to be drawn to the stage instead of the bar. Typically I will stand and watch people come into the venue and head straight to the bar or the merch tables but Saturday night it was clear that they were going straight to the floor. I attribute that to the sound of Ian Sweet. Sure, it was calming and chill but there was something about it that made it impossible to ignore.

Jillian seemed a bit timid in-between songs when she addressed the crowd. “Does anyone else lose their shit when it’s cold outside?” The crowd chuckled. Jillian went on to explain that she is from L.A. but when the crowd started laughing, she went onto explain that she lived in Boston– yeah, that got even more laughs. The interaction between her and the crowd was awkward in a way but also extremely genuine and had me falling in love with more than just Ian Sweet’s music– but also the three members as people.

For the second to last song, Ian Sweet brought up Adrienne Berry and Ted Leo from Ted Leo & The Pharmacists. If there was a person in the audience that wasn’t already captivated by the opening group, this definitely did the trick. With Adrienne wailing on the saxophone and Ted chugging along on the guitar, the addition of the two members truly added something special to an already amazing set. It also gave me a taste of what was to come and I couldn’t help but get overly excited. Ian Sweet’s set may have been short and sweet but it did the trick. They had the whole room in the palm of their hands and I already can’t wait for them to come back to town.

The show was quickly turned over for Ted Leo & The Pharmacists and, within no time, the stage was crowded with the six members of this group including the one and only Ted Leo. Ted is a bit of a legend. He has done a little bit of everything from his punk band Citizens Arrest to his indie rock duo The Both with Aimee Mann. Whatever this guy touches seems to turn to gold due to the honesty in the lyrics and his pure-hearted energy. I had never seen Ted live before which just made last night that much more of a treat.

The group wasted no time and jumped right into their over twenty song set. The energy radiating off the stage was electric and instantly the sold out crowd started moving and grooving along to the music. The sound of TL/Rx leans towards the side of indie-music but there are times where it wouldn’t be a stretch to think you’re at a rock-almost punk show. That’s the magic of this group. With so many people in the band, there a a million influences that they mesh together to create a thing of beauty. Even when the band left the stage leaving just Ted, a guitar, and a microphone, you were left with a sound unlike anything else. You could hear the conviction in Ted’s voice and when it mixed with the passion you could see in his guitar playing, you were left with more than just a solo show– you were left with a full band sound and feel from just one guy.

The band behind Ted Leo was absolutely amazing. It was hard to not watch saxophonist/ percussionist Adrienne Berry the entire set. Adrienne was dancing around more than the other members and seemed to be playing off the crowd and Ted himself. Drummer Chris Wilson (who had been dubbed ‘Woodstock’ earlier in the day due to his hippie-like appearance) made everything look effortless and he sat behind the drum kit with a smile on his face throughout the set. Honestly, trying to watch everything I wanted to watch was overwhelming. There were so many people on the stage with so many different styles that it was impossible to catch it all.

TL/Rx played for just over two hours. Typically a show that long would annoy me and I honestly wouldn’t stay but there was something about these guys that kept me there until the bitter end. I wanted, no needed, to see what was going to happen next. Whether it was the entire band on stage, just Ted, an original song, or their Dead Moon cover– I was enthralled in their performance the entire time.

Losing the Triple Rock is going to be hard for me– it’s going to be hard for the entire Twin Cities music scene but being able to catch a couple truly amazing shows there before they close their doors for the last time is making it a little bit easier to cope with. Last night was definitely one of those amazing shows.