Ted Leo

Bob Mould @ 9:30 Club - 4/27/16

Bob Mould @ 9:30 Club - 4/27/16

Bob Mould has been a mainstay of the punk and indie rock scenes for several decades now, having put out a consistently steady stream of new music since Hüsker Dü’s first album in 1982, Land Speed Record, crammed 17 songs into 26½ minutes. Although much of the world associates him with the Minneapolis, MN scene that Hüsker Dü came out of, Mould spent a decade living in the District before moving to San Francisco a few years ago, making any show that he plays here now like a homecoming. On Wednesday night, he made a return to the 9:30 Club, where he had DJed a frequent dance night called Blowoff for much of his time in the area, in support of his 12th solo album, Patch the Sky.

LIVE: Black Cat 20th Anniversary Party

LIVE: Black Cat 20th Anniversary Party

Last Friday and Saturday night, a significant chunk of Washington, DC’s local music community got babysitters, tuned their guitars, found a good t-shirt (or in the case of a few women, the right tie) and headed to the Black Cat to celebrate its 20 year anniversary. With a line up handpicked by Dante Ferrando, the club’s owner and founder, there’s no doubt the shows would sell out, but both nights felt more like an extended family reunion than sold out concerts.

Ferrando drew the lineup from local talent, picking established, reunited, current, and legendary acts, including a few bands that also worked at the bar, and his own Gray Matter. And for some, that’s what the party was all about: The music. Every band had its own fans, but many people stayed planted on the familiar black and white checked floor from start to finish. But for others, there were moments when the music was the backdrop to the hugs of long-parted friends reuniting in the back of the main stage area.

ALWAYS tip your bartender


LIVE MUSIC: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists @ The Black Cat - 4/27/12

Photos courtesy of Erica Bruce (betweenloveandlike.blogspot.com)

Ted Leo is doing it right.

The man’s been rocking for over 20 years, and it’s still guaranteed that at any given show, he will play the songs you want to hear, rock out until he has sweated through his shirt or his face is bleeding (yes, this really happens), and will be engaging and generally happy to be on stage, doing what he always dreamed of doing when he grew up—being a rock star. 

Beyond filling the obvious criteria for being a great performer, Ted Leo is a principled artist, brilliant lyricist, and great musician.  He has been deeply committed to releasing his music on independent record labels and steering clear of playing corporately-owned venues.  His lyrics are oftentimes packed with powerful political messages and he has recently been active in union efforts in Wisconsin and the Occupy Wall Street movement. 

But most importantly, Ted Leo makes music personal.  To read his website is to learn who Ted is as a person—he tells of his early trials of traveling around as a one-man act, playing music on top of cassette tapes of backing sounds and shares old pictures, stories, and memories.  He interacts with his fan base constantly through Twitter, and a friend of mine tells the story of how when MySpace was the newest fad, Ted got in touch with fans to meet up in person and hang out.