I’m super fortunate to write about music professionally. These days, I review shows in SF every month and dabble in expounding on music trends for outlets like Wired. But like everyone else, I started much, much smaller: Syracuse, N.Y. for me.  I went to school there and wrote for student publications about music while traversing the state from Buffalo to Albany for gigs. Kind of crazy to think back to.

Today, I don’t get nervous for much anymore, I’ve met plenty of acts and had a variety of assignments. But when the opportunity to interview Ted Leo appeared recently, I was a newbie all over again. It’s a good anxiety to experience—the sensation of interviewing someone who has oddly helped shape your views. That story landed at AOL’s Spinner. My first Ted Leo story, however, came in November 2006 in The Student Voice. Check out this unedited gem in its entirety below:

(In particular, note 1) Linkin Park jabs before they faded away and 2) I fell victim to Manic Pixie Dream Girl BS before it was diagnosed by the greater pop culture. Also, for what it’s worth, I enjoy DCFB. See here.)

Originally from: The Student Voice—November 2006 edition

Roadtrippin’ for a concert is an art form. On Friday, Oct. 27, Ted Leo and The
Pharmacists were playing in Rochester—roughly only a four hour roundtrip away—and my friend Mike and I splurged the $22 for tickets. The events that occurred were luckily documented, so here’s a little insight into the nuisances of how a concert road trip should go.

5:37 p.m. After filling the tank on my 2001 Grand-Am, I pick up Mike. First words out of his mouth after he hops in are, “I figured out my Halloween costume… The Saltine
Warrior.” That pretty much sets the tone for the evening.

5:57 p.m. We’re finally on 81-North. It’s time for the essential part of any road trip—the driving mix. Mike prepared one that included CCR, David Bowie, Eve 6, OK Go, and to my displeasure, George Thorogood.

“C’mon man, George Thorogood. All his songs are about driving. Well, or drinking.”

“Great, he loved drinking and driving.”

“No man. That was Billy Joel.”

7:07 p.m. We finally get off the Thruway. Mike turns to me right after I pay the toll. “Adult World is expensive. They charge $12 for handcuffs.” I’ll leave that conversation at that.

7:27 p.m. Finally in Rochester, we’ve parked on a side road to avoid the $8 event parking. It’s time for a quick bite before the show starts. We narrowly escape jaywalking death so we can eat at Wendy’s. The place is loaded with kids obviously going to the concert. I overhear someone trying to justify calling Dennis Quaid the new Bob Saget.

Mike sums it up. “I’m going to beat some hipster.”

7:58 p.m. We battle the crowd, pick up our tickets and hurry to our seats. We’re closer to the stage than I am to my professors in any of my classes. Like the insane performer he is, Ted Leo started his set two minutes early. As things get going Mike reminds me that immediately after Ted Leo’s set, he’s leaving, going to my car and listening to the songs Ted Leo didn’t play.

8:12 p.m. I pull the “you should be jealous I’m here and you’re not,” phone call to my sister. You know, the one where you dial the number and then just hold the phone up so she can hear the awesomeness on stage. It’s a real jerk move.

8:14 p.m. I do the same thing to the man who turned me onto Ted Leo and The
Pharmacists. We affectionately call him the Professor.

8:48 p.m. Ted Leo ends his set with the song “Biomusicology.” He played everything you could want—“Me and Mia,” “Counting Down The Hours,” “The High Party.” If
you’ve never listened to Ted Leo or haven’t seen him live, you’re missing out. He’s the kind of performer who gets your heart rate up. Just infectious energy on stage when he plays. “Why Ted Leo hasn’t yet made it big,” is officially up there as one of life’s most perplexing questions. Right next to “Did people once genuinely like Linkin Park?”

8:58 p.m. The line for Ted Leo merchandise takes about 20 minutes to get through. Mike talks about how arrogant Newhouse students are (don’t worry, he’s one), and then is amazed at my “weird” affection for artsy girls. (Don’t ask, there’s just something about short hair and glasses and this concert is swarming with them.) We grab CDs and a shirt just in time to go back inside during Death Cab’s first song.

9:17 p.m. We’re ten minutes into their set, and Mike insists the drummer for Death Cab is my former instructor from the SUMB. “We came all this way, why couldn’t he?” I admit the facial hair and mannerisms are dead-on. I guess I need to find out where Josh Dekaney was on Oct. 27.

9:30 p.m. Death Cab finally introduces themselves as a Seattle-based band. Mike responds without hesitating, “Grundge came from Seattle, not emo.” Five minutes later when they finally start playing again, we notice kids above us dancing around like the spirit just came down upon them and they’re possessed. Mike repeatedly lets me know he can’t imagine ever being any of these people.

9:58 p.m. Predictable acoustic portion of the set begins.

10:14 p.m. Predictable portion of the show where everyone shows they can play a different instrument begins. This is also around the time where we notice an odd odor in the area. “You know what I’m going to associate that with? It smells like emo. You’re going to write that down aren’t you?”

10:23 p.m. Death Cab finishes playing and then proceeds to get a three minute standing ovation. They wait back stage, swaggering all over the place, and then…

10:26 p.m. Predictable encore to close the night begins. As this is going on Mike literally sits down. He decides to start a debate about where emo came from while Death Cab is closing up. I say it’s what 90s punk developed into around 2000, but Mike offers a different answer. “Terrorists.”

11:43 p.m. We finally head for home—even though the concert ended an hour ago. We decided it would be a good idea to sneak around the back of the building (The Rochester Auditorium, which bears a striking resemblance to Rydell High School from the outside), and wait an hour in the rain in case Ted Leo decided to embrace his fans.

We didn’t get to see him, but his performance warranted that dedication. The only thing that came out of our extra time in Rochester was a need to stop at a Thruway McDonalds.

However, as fate would have it Ted Leo is coming through New York in November. He’s in NYC on Nov. 7 and 8, which means one thing. There’s only an eight hour roundtrip standing between us and sharing a post concert McFlurry with our rock icon.

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