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Titus Andronicus at the Green Room

In Gigs, Montréal, New Jersey on April 11, 2010 at 4:05 pm

WOAH! Okay, so last night Glen Rock, New Jersey natives Titus Andronicus played at the Green Room, with the opener being Hollerado, who opened for Girl Talk at Metropolis not too long ago. I missed Hollerado’s set but Arnold said they were alright.

I don’t even know where to begin with this show. I’ve seen Titus Andronicus a bunch of times now, including seeing them at Il Motore in September of 2009 with The So So Glos, and I hope to see them a bunch more. Every time I’ve seen them, including seeing them play only one song ‘Titus Andronicus’ at the Market Hotel in Brooklyn, NY (this isn’t it but it should give you general sense of the rediculousness of them at the Market Hotel) because me and my friends had to book it to make the last train home, I’ve left feeling that it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, and last night was no different.

We walked in about 10 minutes before Titus came on, and I was pretty surprised to see the Green Room so packed. Luckily we were able to slip right through the eager crowd into the front. They opened with ‘A More Perfect Union’, the opener from The Monitor, their second and newest album. It turned into madness from basically the first note. It was sheer excitement that kept me, and probably many others, going through their incredibly energetic set. If you were at the show, then you know that it was WAY too hot (and sweaty) in there. At more than one point, the singer, Patrick Stickles, had to call out for water because of the unbearable heat. When the water got passed through the crowd up to the stage, there was a round of applause because it meant that the show could go on, which seemed a legitimate concern considering Stickles’ warning that because of the heat, ‘We are all going to die.’

They proceeded to rip through tracks from both of their albums, The Airing of Grievances and The Monitor, and did not leave out all that much. One of the highlights was ‘Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ’ when the crowd may have reached it’s peak excitement yelling along to the cathartic, “FUCK YOU!” that comes in right before the song picks up and becomes a serrrious jam. The only disappointing part was that during the song before I wrecked  my ankle on my way down from a bit of jumping around, so I couldn’t get in with the crowd while Titus tore through ‘Fear and Loathing…’ with incredible passion.

Another highlight was ‘Titus Andronicus’ (skip 1.25 in), which I consider to be one of their most fun songs, especially live when the audience joins Stickles and the rest of the band in singing/screaming ‘YOUR LIFE IS OVER’ over and over and over again until you really believe it, or until it’s lost its meaning, both of which signify one of the most interesting aspects of the band, which is their brilliant lyrics. Occasionally it is the repetition of certain lines (i.e. the previously mentioned example or “You will always be a loser” from ‘No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future‘ or “It’s still us against them” from ‘Four Score and Seven‘) that really make their lyrics sink in, but more often it is the lines that you hear only once that are most affecting, such as “I took the one thing that made me beautiful and threw it away” from ‘No Future Part Three ‘ or “the more we think, the less it all makes sense” from ‘Albert Camus‘ and too many more fantastic lyrics. It is not just music for shouting along to the repetitious lines, it is also a thinking-person’s music. It’s fun (not to say that that’s all it is musically, because it is often fairly complex and layered), but it’s thought-provoking lyrically. There are many, many references in their lyrics, from Simon & Garfunkel (“there’ll be no more counting the cars on the Garden State Parkway” from ‘A More Perfect Union’) to Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight’ (“and if it deserves a better class of criminal then I’ma give it to them tonight” also from ‘A More Perfect Union) to Shakepeare’s Hamlet (“how weary, stale, flat and unprofitable it is to be young, dumb, and have lots of money” from ‘Albert Camus’).

In a way, the joy of Titus Andronicus’ music comes from their endurance. Stickles may wail in his suffering but he takes responsibility for his life and continues to emphasize the importance of trying in life. As he claims in ‘A Pot In Which To Piss’, he’s “been called out, cuckholded, castrated, but [he] survived.” He knows he will continue to suffer but he’s never going to quit.

This then brings us to 14 minute epic that they played near the end of their set, ‘The Battle Of Hampton Roads’. It refers to one of the most important naval battles in the American Civil War (an indecisive battle, as both sides claimed victory, which works with the theme of the album being that of internal struggle), which much of the album refers to (for example, The Monitor was a ship that found in the Battle of Hampton Roads). The lyrics are great but it is also a great display of their excellent songwriting (musically). It’s a long song (several of their songs, especially from the new album, are over 6 minutes long, which is odd for a band that could be considered somewhat ‘punk’) but as with all their songs, it never felt long because it’s full of life.

The crowd never relented for more than a few minutes, but those breaks were much appreciated as breathing was quite difficult because of the heat. By the end of the show you could tell who really got into it by those who were a sweaty mess (myself included). A few of us had the great pleasure of talking to singer Patrick Stickles briefly after the show. He may write pretty serious songs, but he was very affable. We then grabbed some drinks and began the trek home, made a little more difficult by the (possibly) sprained ankle I had to walk on. It was definitely one of the best shows I’ve been to and I greatly anticipate my next opportunity to see them, even if I have to limp to get there.

They’re playing in Red Hook, New York today and New Haven, Connecticut tonight with The Babies. They’re playing Great Scott in Boston tomorrow with The Babies and Hallelujah the Hills, then they’re going back to New York where they’re playing Fordham University April 13 with The Babies and then Tuesday, April 14 they’re playing SUNY Purchase with The Babies and Purchase’s own Weird Korea. Then they’re going to Philly, Washington, D.C., Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, back to Pennsylvania, then finishing their North American tour at none other than Hoboken, New Jersey’s Maxwell’s with Spider Bags and Harlem (SOLD OUT) on April 24. Then they’re hitting up Europe, including a stop at Barcelona, Spain’s Primavera Sound Festival, which has an UNREAL line-up this year, which I may make the journey. And all these shows without a single break. See Titus Andronicus if you get a chance, they will not disappoint.

Pick up their albums here, you will not regret it.

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  1. Man. You fucking love titus

  2. Titus Andronicus is overrated.

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