Against Me! / Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

Against Me! / Ted Leo and the Pharmacists: live in Sayrevillelive in Sayreville (2008)
Warner Music Group

Reviewer Rating: 4

Contributed by: TorgoTorgo
(others by this writer | submit your own)

As Ted Leo and the Pharmacists played their first few songs, a strange feeling seemed to swim over the crowd: indifference. I know indie rock crowds are generally too cool to dance, but it seemed like very few were singing along, and the "pit" consisted of four girls lightly skanking -- roughly, the.

As Ted Leo and the Pharmacists played their first few songs, a strange feeling seemed to swim over the crowd: indifference. I know indie rock crowds are generally too cool to dance, but it seemed like very few were singing along, and the "pit" consisted of four girls lightly skanking -- roughly, the moshing equivalent to the "golf clap." The two kids in the front dancing ended up getting kicked out for...dancing too close to people who didn't want to dance? The venue was only about one-third its capacity, and I wondered if we've come so far that TL/Rx and AM! fans don't overlap. Maybe Ted Leo fans don't want to pay $35 including Ticketmaster charges to see him play for 45 minutes.

None of this should matter, and normally I wouldn't mind, but it seemed to have affected the band's performance. Ted Leo poured his heart out having some cute banter with the crowd, and they created a sweat, but overall seemed tired and a little uninvolved. There seemed to constantly be something wrong with the drums, causing drummer Chris Wilson to be incessantly fidgeting with his set and missing beats. They didn't even care to all walk off stage during the classic "Timorous Me," making three grown men standing (or sitting) awkwardly a little unsettling.

To be fair, they were "on" for a nice portion of the set, sweeping across a blazing "Heart Problems," the great new song "The Mighty Sparrow" and the pulsating "Counting Down the Hours." James Canty is great as their second guitarist, a very talented guy who's not afraid to jump around, and their new bassist seems to be a little less shy since the last time I saw them. Nixing "Me & Mia" from the set, they closed with a cover of the Misfits "Hybrid Moments," a song no one in the crowd seemed to know. At the very least, New Jersey crowds usually uproar when their very own Misfits have a song being played. And hey, isn't Ted Leo from NJ? While I had a good time, I doubt they won over any new fans, and I think I'll only buy tickets to go see them if they're headliners.

Set list:

  1. The Sons of Cain
  2. Heart Problems
  3. Mourning in America
  4. Army Bound
  5. new song (The Mighty Sparrow)
  6. Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?
  7. Counting Down the Hours
  8. Little Dawn
  9. new song (Where Was My Brain?)
  10. Who Do You Love?
  11. Timorous Me
  12. Walking to Do
  13. Hybrid Moments (Misfits cover)
Against Me! came on to a three-fourths-capacity crowd and (spoiler alert) killed. Slaughtered, maimed, raped, pillaged, plundered. You probably have seen them live before; you know the drill. No-nonsense playing, professional, yet not mechanical. The slightly slower "Cliché Guevara" AM! opened the set with was a fetching change and, technically, they never stopped since a guitar part or drum beat would link all the songs to each other before the encore. Comically, Andrew and Tom poured water into each other's mouth in between many songs, as one of them seemed to have always been on Song Bridge Duty.

Like what they did at many Warped shows this year, they sped through a Reinventing Axl Rose block in the middle of the set, much to the happiness of all the guys in flannel shirts. I enjoyed how they tried out two songs recorded with horns bare: "Miami" (didn't need the horns) and "The Disco Before the Breakdown" (would have benefitted from the horns). I was happy/surprised to hear the latter song live for the first time, and "Pretty Girls" was a fantastic addition as well, buzzing along with sheer precision; where was this when you were playing "Animal" and "Ocean" in 2007? The only weak cut performed was "Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart"; in theory it sounds like a good idea to change the pace with a slower song, but really just drags boringly.

As Tom came out alone for the encore, he went to go into "Amputations" and the mic gave some atrocious feedback during the first line. He stopped playing and gave the sound guy the Tom Gabel Death Stare saying, "The monitors have been giving me feedback all fucking night!" As he tried to start the song again, clapping began, making him stop the song saying "Look, if you're going to clap, you'll have to clap in time so I don't mess up." Again, the song started, more clapping again, and he stopped, again, noticeably laughing saying, "No, no, I meant in time with the song, not each other," and proceeded to stomp to the beat he wanted to us to clap to, and finally executed the song. This was all rather funny, but I wouldn't be surprised if people thought he was pissed omg table style.

Like all good bands, Against Me! decided to save the undeniable climax for their last song: "We Laugh at Danger (And Break All the Rules)." By the a capella chorus towards the end of the song, the beloved Warren Oakes came to the front of the stage to sing with his bandmates to sing, while what seemed to be a very young fan came from backstage to play the last full band chorus on drums. Any tiredness felt by the audience was gone at this point, blasts being had as a fittingly passionate and sloppy version raged on, for the punx.

Set list:
  1. Cliché Guevara
  2. New Wave
  3. White People for Peace
  4. Stop!
  5. Pints of Guinness Make You Strong
  6. Reinventing Axl Rose
  7. Those Anarcho Punx Are Mysterious
  8. Walking Is Still Honest
  9. Miami
  10. From Her Lips to God's Ears (The Energizer)
  11. Americans Abroad
  12. Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart
  13. T.S.R.
  14. Pretty Girls (The Mover)
  15. Don't Lose Touch
  16. Thrash Unreal
  17. Amputations
  18. The Disco Before the Breakdown
  19. Sink, Florida, Sink
  20. We Laugh at Danger (And Break All the Rules)


People who liked this also liked:
The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseAmerican Steel - Dear Friends and Gentle HeartsThe Mountain Goats - The Life of the World to ComeJapanther - Tut Tut, Now Shake Ya Butt [12 inch]Tegan and Sara - SainthoodThe National - BoxerPaul Baribeau - UnbearableAgainst Me! - White CrossesBars of Gold - Of Gold [12-inch]

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
leecorsoisapenis (November 4, 2008)

You would have to be a complete fucking moron to miss Future of the Left. What. The. Fuck.

Unless you have a really good reason, score is for being an idiot.

PoliticsOfStarving (November 3, 2008)

I haven't seen them play Disco... but I have seen them play Impact twice, and also, Gypsy Panther back in 2006 I think.

deadelectromix (November 3, 2008)

This Tom Gabel dude sounds like a dick.

codu (November 3, 2008)

Against Me! have played Disco Before the Breakdown during at least 3/4 gigs i've been to. Yet every live review on the org gives me the impression that it's a real rarity to see them play it these days.

Although I live in Ireland, so I see them basically once a year, maybe they just think theyre treating us everytime their here.

Pretty Girls however, would be immense to see.

Nice review though.

Dudley_Shale (November 3, 2008)

Fuck, I'd never stop air humping if I got to hear Pretty Girls live.

red_eye_inc (November 2, 2008)

"I agree that Starland is the worst venue ever...well that was until I saw Alkaline Trio at the Chicago HOB. Good God, that place sucks."

That place is the pits. The trio should have known better they're from here.

smelltheglove (November 1, 2008)

I agree that Starland is the worst venue ever...well that was until I saw Alkaline Trio at the Chicago HOB. Good God, that place sucks.

SkateAWS879 (November 1, 2008)

they played disco before the breakdown!? omg wow...why the hell didnt i go? T.T

shiyasmomma (November 1, 2008)

order the new fuck the facts 2xlp deluxe colored vinyl edition at www.coptercrashrecords.com. pre order one today.

CD on Relapse Records.

jacknife737 (October 31, 2008)

I have yet to be disappointed by Against Me! live.

the_other_scott (October 31, 2008)

starland ballroom is the worst venue i've ever been to.

torgo (October 31, 2008)

For the people asking about Future On The Left, I got there late and only caught their last song, I didn't think it was worth mentioning.

kokoro (October 31, 2008)

we laugh at danger is probably one of my favourite songs of all time.

thepopeofchili-town (October 31, 2008)

I would've killed for "Timorous Me" in Denver. Also, other than Tom playing "Cowards Sing at Night" instead of "Amputations", this is the exact same AM! set I saw. And yes, Future Of the Left at least deserves a mention, they were fucking great.

nameless (October 31, 2008)

"I wondered if we??ve come so far that TL/Rx and AM! fans don??t overlap"

I think it's a bit of confusion on both sides.

I personally don't see why. Both Against Me! and TL/Rx are my favorite bands going right now.

dumbloserme (October 31, 2008)

Well I'm glad that you completely forgot about the opening band, Future of the Left, who are worlds better than most bands in the world.

Sad, really.

magneticbedhead (October 31, 2008)

Starland = worst venue in NYC/NJ area. The bouncers are fucking "tough guys".

crackpotdemagogue (October 31, 2008)

"Slaughtered, maimed, raped..."

these words have positive connotations? I, for one, am glad I was not in attendance for the viking invasion.

PoliticsOfStarving (October 31, 2008)

That sounds like it was fun. Last time I saw Against Me! I remember leaving thinking 'these guys just aren't that fun anymore', but you made this sound pretty good.

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