Titus Andronicus Concert Review

  • Post Author
    by Web manager
  • Post Date
    Tue Sep 03 2013


I considered starting this review with a summary of the play Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare and how this war drama holds greater implications and meaning for the punk of the same name I got to see perform on last Friday, August 30th at the Majestic Theatre. I even considered using the word apropos to describe the name choice. But then, I realized how late at night I decided to start this write up, so I decided to just let you, the reader, uncover some of the mysteries for yourself. If you didn't have a chance to make it out to this concert, I'll give you a run down of how things went overall and random, pointless observations that serve no greater purpose than to satisfy my own need for music and pop culture reference points.

The opening band for the night's festivities was a band called Fire Retarded. You could tell they were a band based out of Madison because the only people on the floor in the front of the Majestic were an odd batch of younger looking people who could honestly be going to school at Madison West. This isn't a comment to put the band down as sounding like they were from high school, however. They weren't a bad group to hear live at all. They were certainly better than the second opener (who I'll get to in a second). Every part of their act that showed off their sloppiness was at least made up for by the raw sound and power they brought to each of their songs. It felt like a band that was passable/enjoyable live but would be difficult to listen to in a studio setting. Their singer, Tyler, looked like Conan, sang/yelled like he was trying to be in the realm of Hetfield, and screamed/moaned in the area of Cobain. It certainly could've been worse. For an opener of an opener, they held down the fort and got me excited for the full force of punk that I had assured myself I would receive upon entering the Majestic that night.

Wait. Scratch that. Then the second band, Lost Boy, came on. Before I say anything potentially critical, I will say that from my assessment of the crowd, this band was very polarizing. Half the crowd was very much into their pop punk, Green Day meets Cheap Trick meets lead singer who looks/dresses like Stephen Malkmus but sings like Daniel Johnston with a head cold vibe. The other half of the crowd, that probably included me, was very confused by the band's sound and wondered if it was merely a sort-of half joke about punk music expectations. I don't know. Perhaps the lyrics irked me for no logical reason. Then again, “I saw you at the carwash / you were washing your car,” couldn't be described as Dickensian (or even Ramonian) as far as opening song lyrics go. [If you read this Lost Boy, I wish you the best! I'm sorry I didn't enjoy it this one night I saw you] Anyways, Lost Boy finished their set with no real damage done and really helped to validate my excitement for Titus Andronicus.

When Patrick Stickles, lead singer and songwriter, first made it on stage, it seemed as though he didn't realize the crowd was going to take this as an indication that he was ready to play. He gave a half smirk that indicated he knew he couldn't just tune his guitar at this point. The show would have to begin. And for a while, that's merely what the show felt like for me. They started playing, they were sounding good, and the mosh pit had pushed me farther back on the concert floor, but it remained to feel like the ceiling had been reached.

Somewhere along the way, though, when they started to kick into a few of the longer songs from The Monitor, that's when you could tell they were really getting into the swing of things and letting loose. The atmosphere became so much more intense and intimate as the moshes became like waves crashing harder and harder towards the stage. To their credit, the mosh pit was very respectful and friendly to anyone fearless/foolish enough to tread into it. One thing that I did notice was that there wasn't too much music played off of Local Business; no “Food Fight,” “My Eating Disorder” notably, as far as I remember, but they did play “In A Big City;” but I certainly didn't feel slighted by this fact. Granted my favorite album is The Airing of Grievances, which got a lot of playing time, but the crowd did seem happy with cut choices from that album such as “Upon Viewing Brueghel's “Landscape With The Fall Of Icarus”” and “No Future.” The latter song certainly brought in the loudest and most full-hearted singing from the crowd.

Dammit, not again. Ignore that last sentence. The crazy ‘I can't believe I'm witnessing this' moment was definitely when, towards the home stretch of the set, the band decided to diverge from their setlist and pull out a cover of Weezer's “Buddy Holly.” It was certainly the point in the evening where the crowd got over the opening bands and appreciated how much effort Titus Andronicus were giving to their performance.

Beyond that stellar performance, Patrick told the crowd to prepare for a new album from them in the near future. He described the work, in either full or half seriousness (his sarcasm is thicker than concrete walls), as a ‘full eighty-minute rock opera about a man living in the big city dealing with the feelings of isolation.' They played three new ones, one titled “Look Alive.” The songs were well received by the crowd and showed off some new sound qualities into the Titus repertoire. One of the songs had a bluesy intro with gorgeous chord suspensions that really held the audience's attention when they finally blew down the doors into the sounds of heavy-hitting punk rock Titus fans have come to love.

It was a great show and I'm more impatient than ever to hear some new studio material from them. Titus Andronicus Forever.

Additional Odds & Sods:

– Thanks to my good friend Toler for attending the concert with me. When I asked him for a quote after the show ended, he murmured mockingly “the mosh pit was… great.”

– There was a Miles McNutt sighting at the show, so I was doubly happy about how the whole evening went.

– They had a true encore, which they absolutely deserved. They showed their audiences the truest of gratitude by performing another crazy cool cover. This time, it was the Rolling Stones' “Brown Sugar.”

– Certainly, my favorite mini-scene from my glances at the mosh pit was when I caught eye of a girl holding onto her boyfriend face front like a kangaroo joey as he kept going into the pit. What great stuff.

-Eric Wiig