(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) — Indie-punk icon Ted Leo will perform a solo show outside on the Dré Pavilion at MASS MoCA on Friday, August 21, at 8pm. From his early adventures in the hardcore scene of 1980s New York City, to his much-beloved band Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, to his recent duo project with Aimee Mann called The Both, Leo has distinguished himself as a unique presence in the indie music world: a cerebral punk with an ear for power pop, equally at home ripping into a crunchy-guitared anthemic call to arms or belting out a sweet melody. As a solo performer, his many sides are distilled into one alarmingly entertaining singer-songwriter package.
Following his New Jersey teenage days in the punk scene, Ted Leo formed the band Chisel as an undergraduate at Notre Dame in 1990, and began to hone his talents as an energetic songwriting frontman. Though it had built an active fan base and had garnered critical acclaim, by 1997 the band had split up and Leo embarked on a solo career that has included everything from music-producing to festival gigs to a regular guest spot on The Best Show with Tom Scharpling, a comedy Internet radio show/podcast.
In 1999, the formation of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists marked a further change in Leo’s songwriting talents, as he began to pull from new influences, such as Billy Bragg and Alex Chilton, all while maintaining the frenetic energy and vocal growl that has kept his sound so distinct through the years.
As the “post-post-punk world’s answer to what a singer-songwriter should sound like” (the Village Voice), the success of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists has allowed Leo a constant place in the underground scene. Most recently, Aimee Mann is Leo’s frequent collaborator; after opening for Mann during a 2012 tour, the two tried their hands at collaboration and have since forged a music sound described by the Village Voice as an “eloquent amalgam of classic pop/rock songwriting with tinges of folk and punk production – think a chilled-out Leo and a distorted Mann” and an on-stage presence highlighted by witty banter and impressive vocal chops. His solo show confirms that Leo still brings the power-punk energy he arrived with on the scene nearly two decades ago.
Ted Leo “plays with the passion of a thousand basement shows” (NPR Music) on MASS MoCA’s Dré Wapenaar Pavilion (or inside at Club B-10, if it rains) on Friday, August 21, at 8pm. Dinner and snacks are available from Lickety Split before and during the show. A full bar serves Berkshire Brewing Company beers and Berkshire Mountain Distillery spirits. Tickets are $12 in advance and for students, $18 day of, and $24 preferred. Tickets for all events are available through the MASS MoCA box office located on Marshall Street in North Adams, open 10am to 6pm every day, with extended evening hours to 7pm on Thursdays through Saturdays. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during box office hours or purchased online at MASS MoCA. All events are held rain or shine.