In the disorganized menagerie of music and art that you'll find at a typical Phoenix First Friday, I've found that it's usually best to show up without plans and let the muse lead you. Friday night I showed up with a mission, though: See Back Ted N-Ted at Lost Leaf. Now, I've seen Modern Art Records house producer Ryan Breen's band plenty of times, but having heard the new material, just recently posted on his MySpace, I had to see what the new stuff sounded like live. After the band's half-hour show on Roosevelt Row, I'm more confident than ever that the new Back Ted record is the frontrunner to be the best local record released this year (the BT-T Ep, Hookie, was the second best last year).
Not that the show was anything spectacular -- it was pretty much what you'll see at other First Friday street stages. The sound was bad, the crowd constantly in flux, the lighting nonexistent. But those songs, especially the three new ones that opened the set "Loose Control," "Marry Me," "Young Lovers," are spectacular. "Loose Control," in particular, caught my attention, as it has a great bittersweet quality and an incredible beat. It wouldn't sound out of place on the next MGMT record.
Playing with a backing band that included Hector Bagnod of the metroricly risen and now split Phoenix band The Medic Droid (it seems Back Ted always has random Modern Art types filling in) Breen took the band through a 25-minute set full of glossy but serious synth-poppy rock. The closer, "The War Is Over" had the crowd dancing, and passersby asking about the band on stage. "It's Back-T-E-D-the-letter-N-hyphen-Ted," I told them, and I'm firmly convinced they'll be hearing more from this band.
Last Night: Back Ted N-Ted at Lost Leaf (First Friday)
Better Than: I wasn't at the other big FF show of the night, The Train Tracks first battle of the bands outside the art museum, but I'm comfortable giving the nod to Back Ted.
Personal Bias: I side with the sizeable "We Hate Medic Droid" contingent but it was cool to see Hector is still part of the Modern Art crew.
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Random Detail: I've never seen The Roosevelt (the other hip house bar in the area by Lost Leaf) so unpacked on a FF. I mean, it was still crammed, but I was actually able to order a drink. Cheers to that!
Further Listening: You should definitly head over to Back Ted's MySpace and check out "Loose Control."
By The Way: Kimber Lanning (Modified, Stickweeds, Local First AZ) says Breen "saved the day" by mixing down the fantastic Stinkweeds Record Store Day sampler, which features previously unheard tracks from some of the biggest bands in Phoenix.
One More Thing: It's not music releated, but I've gotta give a plug to Jordan Alexander, a Scottsdale artist who makes the most amazing wooden robots on sale at Conspire. I'll be collecting what my budget allows.