Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Even solo, Ted Leo is pure fire and soul, with Outer Spaces and Empire Cinema (Will's Pub)

Posted By on Tue, Nov 15, 2016 at 1:43 PM

THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND
click to enlarge Ted Leo at Will's Pub - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Ted Leo at Will's Pub
A truth about music acts: Most are pretty easily categorized. There are a lot out there who really, adorably try to resist taxonomy, but it’s usually not hard to box them pretty tidily. East Coast original Ted Leo, however, is one of the rare ones. It’s simple enough to cite the punk fire in his belly, or his gutsy folk intellect. But there’s something else in his blindingly exuberant songs that’s even more essential and defining that escapes those and any genre tags. Comb through even the most acrobatic rock critic’s lexicon all you want but you still won’t be able to lasso that particular, quintessential Ted Leo thing. So that’s all you can call it. That’s the very definition of singular.
click to enlarge Ted Leo at Will's Pub - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Ted Leo at Will's Pub
Another musical truth: Very few artists sound as good solo as they do with a full band. Now Leo doesn’t trump – sorry, too soon – um, defy this axiom. But he comes exhilaratingly close. Again, that’s because he’s Ted Leo, and no one else is. Only he boils over with molten heart quite like this. And a flame, that flame, does anything but lose its heat or burn when you remove the layers.
click to enlarge Ted Leo at Will's Pub - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Ted Leo at Will's Pub
click to enlarge Ted Leo at Will's Pub - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Ted Leo at Will's Pub
In fact, this recent individual performance (Nov. 13, Will’s Pub) was the Ted Leo experience as pure, unfiltered and personal as I’ve ever seen. After the national devastation last week, this room was filled on a Sunday because we all needed this, and he acknowledged it before even playing a note. Then he proceeded to obliterate the collective pall with gusting vigor and indomitable life.
click to enlarge Ted Leo at Will's Pub - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Ted Leo at Will's Pub
click to enlarge Ted Leo at Will's Pub - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Ted Leo at Will's Pub
Over and over, Leo’s performances prove him to be a raw, thoughtful and real artist and person with no compulsion to bloat or hide it. It’s why he’s as much a folk hero as he is a cult hero.
click to enlarge Outer Spaces at Will's Pub - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Outer Spaces at Will's Pub
Baltimore opener Outer Spaces – the musical vehicle for Cara Beth Satalino that’s released on notable labels like Don Giovanni and Matador – was an unassumingly gorgeous echo of a fond past.
click to enlarge Outer Spaces at Will's Pub - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Outer Spaces at Will's Pub
click to enlarge Outer Spaces at Will's Pub - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Outer Spaces at Will's Pub
The trio’s jangly, no-frills songs are decidedly the old-fashioned kind whose only sales hook are earnest melodies and sweet wistfulness. Indie rock hasn’t been this beautifully elemental since the ‘80s when it was still a small underground college scene. And it’s nice to see it revived with such lovely intuition and authenticity.
click to enlarge Empire Cinema at Will's Pub - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Empire Cinema at Will's Pub
Tampa’s Empire Cinema impressed again with the clarity and force of their sound. With looming melodies and big, assertive guitars, they blend classic post-punk mood with tall, modern indie-rock horsepower. They’re like Interpol suddenly woke up and just said, fuck it, let’s rock. And, live, that’s exactly what they do in a very serious way.
click to enlarge Empire Cinema at Will's Pub - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Empire Cinema at Will's Pub
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This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly's music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city's music scene.

Follow Bao on Twitter (@baolehuu)
Email Bao: baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com


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