VISITING ACT ‌ Rockin' To Do 

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists vs. tryptophan

click to enlarge Singer/guitarist Ted Leo (center) and his medicine men know to say 'thanks'
  • Singer/guitarist Ted Leo (center) and his medicine men know to say 'thanks'

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
w/ Vague Angels, Owen Beverly
Thurs. Nov. 23
10 p.m.
$10 (all ages)
Village Tavern
1055 Johnnie Dodds Blvd.
884-6311
www.village-tavern.com

It is time to give thanks for the recent bounty of rock that's been streaming through town like gravy atop a mound of mashed potatoes.

Hyperliterate pop-punk pioneer and borderline anarchist Ted Leo and his band the Pharmacists will land on the shore of Johnnie Dodds Boulevard just in time to graciously accept the praise of sated Thanksgiving diners as they stomp, sing, and not-so-quietly riot to the often politically-charged numbers drawn from Leo's numerous LPs and EPs.

Leo's well-phrased rants against tyranny (this includes the Bush administration, of course) are tempered by an unflappable sense of optimism that comfortably holds the hand of his fretful, helpless narrator who's constantly worried about the collapse of the world as we know it.

If this all sounds a bit heavy, be soothed by the fact that he and the Pharmacists, currently comprised of bassist Dave Lerner and drummer Chris Wilson, create a thundering rock 'n' roll platform that occasionally disintegrates into bloody warfare. Well, bloody warfare between Leo and his microphone — on more than one occasion, he's gotten so worked up while performing the Clash-y "wake up, American touristas" anthem "Ballad of the Sin Eater" that he's bashed himself in the forehead with the mic hard enough to draw an eerie, earnest stream of blood.

In honor of the holiday, we now present the top five TL/RX lyrics to be thankful for.

• "I spent a night in Kigali/In a five-diamond hotel/Where maybe someday, they'll do the Wa-Tutsi/Down in Hutu Hell/I fell in with a Merchant Marine/Who promised to take me home/But when I woke up all beaten and bloody/I couldn't tell if it was Jersey or Sierra Leone!" (from "Ballad of the Sin Eater," off of 2003's Hearts of Oak)

• "In the days when we were young, we were free, we were free/Now that Georgie's reign's begun, we won't be, we can't be, and/No more shall I be loyal to my sorrowful country." (from "Loyal to My Sorrowful Country," off of 2005's Sharkbite Sessions)

• "Golden finch, alight in your loft/Where you have learned and, oh, you have taught/The red oak tree will carry your loss/When you alone can't carry that cross." (from "The Gold Finch & The Red Oak Tree," off of 2001's The Tyranny of Distance)

• "I want to take it to the president, him and all his cabinet, with a broom/I want to sweep the Halls of Arrogance/Sweep the walls of the excrement of these baboons." (from "Shake The Streets," off of 2004's Shake the Streets)

• "I was walking along some downtown avenue/I was sharing the sidewalk with my friends/We were singing this song together/And it sounded so good/Wed said, we said, 'Let's sing it again!'/And it had no end..." (from "Hearts of Oak," off of Hearts of Oak)

As a sweet bonus, the first opener at Thursday's show is ex-Charlestonian Owen Beverly, who hasn't been 'round these parts in a whale's age but has recently exhibited a giant spurt of creative energy. With a lineup like this, any sleepiness brought on by tons of turkey should be swiftly counteracted at the Village Tavern on Thursday night. And hey, would it really hurt to bring some leftovers for the band?

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