The Both (Aimee Mann and Ted Leo) have a stage presence that harkens back to the days of The Rat Pack. Talented musicians come out, talk a bunch, tell some funny stories, rag on each other, and then play some great music. It’s a tried-and-true formula that not too many bands use anymore, opting for the more standard strategy of playing a bunch of songs, and every so often acknowledging the crowd with some humor.
It was fun, but also, in a way, a little heartbreaking. Aimee Mann was waxing-poetic about their DC show the night before, and name dropped Ian Mackaye being backstage (no surprise, that man can go anywhere he wants in D.C.) to much applause, as well as Fred Armisen, to much, much more applause. For the purposes of my story, The Both are Ian Mackaye: well-respected, talented musicians with loads of charisma and a fantastic catalogue of music, who could barely fill Union Transfer in it’s smallest iteration. Was there just more Fred Armisens running around, with younger appeal and fresher takes on the genre? Or was everyone resting for the Broad Street Run? Why wouldn’t everyone and their kids come out to see these two power houses take it to each other and play some kick-ass music?
It was a great show. The banter was witty (there was a legitimate conversation about “Bottled In Cork” being misconstrued as “Butt Court”) and the music was high-energy and hook-heavy. The Both material such as “Pay For It” and “Milwaukee” really just oozes Ted Leo, but Mann brings her magic to all of it. The standard solo efforts were covered well (“Save Me” never gets old) and even a cover of ’Til Tuesdays “Voices Carry” seemed bearable with Leo’s high-pitched wailing contrasted with Mann’s softer tones. I hope you placed well in the 10-miler if you missed this, and if this is all very confusing to you, pick up their debut, and ready yourself for the next time, lest I write another “you should have come out, man” review.