It took this Jersey girl all of five minutes on Election Day 2004 to realize between hall-wide slogan-shouting, tearful farewells to home states gone blue and the occasional fistfight that Virginia students, at least at the College, are politically minded in a way I hardly understood at the time. Where I come from, blows tend to be dealt in coffee houses between factions of indie punk-rock band loyalists. Both North and South are in luck this weekend, though, because the University Center Activities Board has brought an act to unite our beliefs-driven tastes. The politically minded punk-rock sensation Ted Leo + Pharmacists will perform Dec. 2 in the University Center.
p. Frankly, a lot of people are excited. “This is something we’ve wanted to do for years now, and the timing is finally right,” UCAB Music Committee Chair Emmagene Worley, a senior, said. “We’ve had lots of interest both in and outside of the committee, and the buzz about Ted Leo is only developing.”
p. Though the power-pop front man himself has been on the music scene for many years, Ted Leo + Pharmacists’ most recent incarnation is arguably its most successful. Since the 2003 release of the trio’s long-awaited “Hearts of Oak,” the band has enjoyed its share of mainstream success. Amid critical acclaim, Billboard praised Ted Leo for “a strong, original voice whose honest and painstakingly crafted art seems destined to be a benchmark for future generations.” Having reached the conclusion of its nationwide tour with Death Cab for Cutie, Ted Leo + Pharmacists’ “developing buzz,” as many are calling it, is likely to get louder.
p. The meanings of Leo’s songs are often as unmistakable as they are emphatic. The liberal artist stresses responsibility of government officials to their citizens and calls for change. “If you’re politically aware, it’s really interesting to hear his perspective,” junior Tracy Strauch said. “A lot of it really makes you think. They encourage people to get involved. They may be anti-war, but they are pro-involvement of all ‘little people.’”
p. It comes as no surprise that Leo hails from that contentious hotbed of politics, Washington, D.C. Northern Virginia residents will appreciate lyrics that subtly reference D.C. landmarks, even specific Metro stops. Students from all over the country who value intelligent political discussion or the subtleties of punk rock power-pop won’t be disappointed. The band’s official website, TedLeo.com, contains more information and sample tracks.
p. The concert begins at 10 p.m. in the Chesapeake Room in the UC (just after the 9 p.m. performance of comedian Kelly Taylor in Lodge One). Opening for Ted Leo + Pharmacists will be the Swedish band Sirgus Alfron and the College’s own Tallest Highest, winners of Battle of the Bands 2006. As if that wasn’t enough, both staunch fiscal conservatives and bleeding-heart liberals can agree on the evening’s biggest perk: this event is free with a student ID.