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Ted Leo and the Pharmacists rock Sunday in Tucson
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Ted Leo and the Pharmacists rock Sunday in Tucson

Their long-awaited Congress show, and the toddler fanboy who has to stay home

My two-year-old nephew is probably envious of me, because I’m going to see one of his favorite bands, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, play at Club Congress on March 28th.

Yes, this little rugrat has a favorite band. Otis is the son of a rock musician, and he has good taste in music: The Shins, Feist, and Kings of Leon, whom he refers to in his toddler-ese as "Kristina."

Otis likes them because they’re catchy. When I babysat him, he asked over and over to go on Youtube and watch "Teeo," as he calls Ted Leo, sing "Me and Mia" or an acoustic cover of "Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson. I played the video, and Otis watched rapturously while poking Cheerios into his mouth. Then at the end, he said, "More!"

I like them because they’re catchy too, but also for other reasons that Otis probably doesn’t get yet — or maybe he does, he’s a freakishly smart two-year-old.

I like Ted Leo because he did what more people should have done during the Bush years: he wrote protest music. Leo writes lyrics that are intelligent and laden with imagery, but he sounds most passionate when he’s singing about his opposition to war and his anger at the ruling policies of the day.

And if you’re a Republican, well, you can still pretend the anti-government-corruption anthem "The One Who Got Us Out" is about Obama and not Bush, and you can yell along with Leo as he calls the dissatisfied populace to action: "That look on your face, don’t let it go to waste/Take it to the floor of Congress, look into the core of rotten."

The band even released a special EP called "Rapid Response" after seeing the violence against protesters at the Republican National Convention in 2008.

As a D.C.-based band, politics are hard to escape, but Leo and his Pharmacists cover other topics just as often, like the treachery of memory on "Bleeding Powers," voyages both metaphorical and literal as borrowed from Split Enz on "Six Months in a Leaky Boat," or eating disorders on the aforementioned "Me and Mia."

Leo hasn’t played in Tucson since 2008, when he was at Club Congress sans Pharmacists. I predict they’ll have a bigger audience this time around, especially after the early March release of "The Brutalist Bricks," their first full-length album since 2007.

However, the Club Congress staff and I still recommend you leave the two-year-olds at home, much as they would enjoy the show. Otis, this means you.

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If you go

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists with Sally Crewe and the Sudden Moves, Sunday at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. 18+ show, $14/advance, $16/day of show. Call 622-8848 for more info.

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