Ted Leo and the Pharmacists are touring in support of their new album, Living with the Living, a double LP on Touch and Go Records. As with his previous recordings, Leo fights the good fight and isn't afraid to raise his voice for what he believes in. Leo draws from a rich array of musical genres and styles to create a sound that is very much his own, but the different sounds all have their roots in the dissatisfaction of punk rock. This is rebel music, people. Leo's songs are topical, political and anthemic. The catchy, pop-inflected tunes can sometimes belie the seriousness of his message but rarely mask the sense that all is not well with the world, as in songs that build to a fevered pitch, and Leo's voice moves from a falsetto to a scream.
Leo has been honing his skills since the hardcore scene of the late 1980s, when he connected social and political issues with impassioned musical delivery, forming the Pharmacists in 1999. East Bay underground label Lookout! Records put out most of the group's albums, and have credited Leo with teaching punks to dance again with "Where Have all the Rude Boys Gone?" from 2002's Hearts of Oak. Over the course of five albums, Leo has created some masterful works, and the Pharmacists have gone from a sprawling lineup to the streamlined, powerhouse three piece that features Leo, Dave Lerner on bass and Chris Wilson on drums. Check your image at the door, folks, because this is substance over style. You'll not see another show like this one.
Friday, April 20, 9 p.m., with Love of Diagrams, $10 advance, $12 door. The Venue, 521 Broad St., 208-919-0011.