Adding to an already impressive (if not mainstream) list of performers, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists have signed on to open this year’s Slope Day festivities. The seminal indie rock group will perform in front of hordes of belligerent Cornellians celebrating the last day of classes by hitting Libe Slope (and the bottle), before Hot Hot Heat and headliners Gym Class Heroes take the stage later in the day. Although the original lineup was announced on February 14th by the Slope Day Programming Board, which is responsible for signing the musical performers for the event each year, the Cornell Concert Commission voted earlier this month to direct a portion of their own budget to securing a third act to open up the show; arrangements for Ted Leo to fill the opener spot were formalized on Monday.
Formed in 1999, and at the time amounting to little more than a solo project, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists have since become a household name in the world of indie rock, releasing the albums The Tyranny of Distance, Hearts of Oak, and Shake the Sheets between 2001 and 2004, all to critical acclaim. Their most recent record, Living with the Living, released last year, debuted at 109 on the Billboard 200.
Best known for their patent brand of indie rock, combining elements of punk, folk, raggae and traditional rock and roll, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists are more likely to garner responses like “they did that song?” than to elicit rabid enthusiasm from any more than their most die-hard fans. But make no mistake, this is a group of performers that knows how to crank out a crowd-pleaser: “Me and Mia” (off of 2004s Shake the Sheets) isn’t just a catchy rock and roll track; it’s also amongst the most recognizable indie rock anthems released in the last five years, receiving a lion’s share of airtime on college radio stations across the country.
While the casual observer might bemoan the absence of a household name on the Slope Day lineup, trust this reporter when he says that the concert, which features some of the very best talent the independent music scene has to offer, should provide for a stellar atmosphere to celebrate the end of the semester — and hey, anything’s gotta be better than T.I. and his gratuitous gunshot sound effects, right?