On Saturday, June 29, 2019, BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! festival continued with a free concert featuring performances by Liz Phair, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, and Caroline Rose. Thunderstorms were predicted to occur in the New York City area but luckily, it rained lightly for a brief period of time and the weather cleared before well before the 7PM show start time.
The first act, Caroline Rose, kicked off the show with an energetic performance and thanked the audience for coming out as she feared that she would play to an empty audience because of the predicted bad weather. During her final song, “Bikini” a group of people moved closer to the stage to dance in the aisles of the seated area. Rose put on a really fun performance and mentioned her parents were in the audience.
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists took the stage next at 8PM. I last saw this version of the band in September 2017 for the 15th anniversary of Seaport Music Festival in downtown Manhattan. Three years before that, I saw a trio version of the Pharmacists (Leo, James Canty, and drummer Chris Wilson) during one of the final shows for beloved Brooklyn DIY venue Death By Audio in November 2014. The band blew through songs from their catalog such as “Sons of Cain,” “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?” and covered a song by Patti Smith (“Pissing in a River”) which led to some members of the crowd to give the band a standing ovation after the cover ended. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists will be touring with Control Top (a band who’s recent album, Covert Contracts, I’ve been listening to constantly since its release) this summer along the US east coast and in the midwest if you missed their set in Brooklyn this weekend.
Liz Phair celebrated the 25th anniversary of her debut record Exile in Guyville last year and Matador Records released a box set to commemorate it. She began her set with “Supernova” from her second album, Whip-Smart and included favorites such as “6’1″,” “Never Said,” “Help Me Mary,” “Mesmerizing,” “Polyester Bride,” “Johnny Feelgood,” “Stratford-on-Guy,” and more. For the penultimate song of her set, she was joined by Ted Leo for “Fuck and Run,” and closed with “Divorce Song.”
I first saw Phair perform in 1998 after the release of whitechocolatespaceegg. 21 years later, I got to photograph her for the second time while playing the borough I was born and I’m truly thankful she’s still playing the songs I fell in love with two decades later and seeming to have a great time doing so.