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Aimee Mann and Ted Leo definitely gave it the ol’ college try during their loose set as The Both, last Saturday at the El Rey Theater. There was comedy in the stage banter as well as impromptu songs about shotgun fishing and murderous “gentle lovers” (the creepiest phrase, according to Ted and Aimee). And there was drama, like when Leo’s guitar started crackling and Mann screamed for her friend Rachel to text Michael, Mann’s husband, interrupting his work to rush over another guitar. In the race against time, Michael did deliver the guitar, and catharsis was expressed via massive cheers from the audience. Spoiler alert: the guitar Michael brought began to crackle as well, revealing that it was a problem with Ted’s cable and not his guitar. Dumb junk happens to famous people too!
About a third of the way into the set, Mann declared the two were going to “Break it down,” to which Ted replied, “But then like Robert Plant said at Live Aid, ‘We’re gonna lift it up!'” This inevitably led to a rabbit hole of discovery about Ted having watched all of Live Aid and being able to recount other notable occurrences of that event. Other highlights of The Both’s endearing banter included recounting awkward moments with Jeb Bush at the 2013 Liberty Medal ceremony for Hilary Clinton, claiming that Mann unjinxed a song by talking long enough to double backwards jinx it, and Leo quoting Pablo Casals as having said “Ja Man.”
Although most of the songs were collaborations between the established indie rockers, there was only so much material that the newly formed duo had under its belt. Despite all the band’s hilarious time stretching out dead pan jokes and anecdotes, the two still shared some solo material as well as a few covers. This included Mann’s Save Me and Goodbye Caroline, Leo’s newer song Lonsdale Avenue, and an encore of ‘Til Tuesday’s Voices Carry and Thin Lizzy’s Honesty Is No Excuse.
Photos by Annie Lesser