In concert: Titus Andronicus at St. Stephen's Church
By David Malitz
Well, of course Titus Andronicus, new torchbearers of indie earnestness and ethics, would eschew a typical rock club and have its D.C. show take place at St. Stephen's Church and serve as a benefit for Positive Force, longtime charity-of-choice for Dischord Records. And of course it would happen to fall on D.C. Emancipation Day, seeing as how the band's new album "The Monitor" is collection of heart-on-sleeve, barnstorming rock-and-roll epics loosely based on the American Civil War.
But even without those ideal circumstances there would have been no stopping the freight train that was the New Jersey-based quintet on Friday night. For a little more than an hour it was one seven-minute stampede after another - screaming vocals, stinging solos, false endings, fist-pumping sing-alongs and even the occasional crowdsurfer.
(Bikini Kill cover and more pictures, after the jump.)
"This song is about feelings. I've got plenty of 'em," frontman Patrick Stickles offered between songs. "You can't keep 'em bottled up. Gotta let 'em out." That statement nearly sums up the Titus outlook. The band simply doesn't hold back. Songs are fantastically messy sprints through punk, pub and good old New Jersey arena rock, usually ending with a rousing crescendo.
Stickles shouts almost every word with a final-breath urgency and finds no need to be vague or inscrutable with his lyrics. "'Cause these humans treat humans like humans treat hogs/They get used up, coughed up, and fried in a pan/But I wasn't born to die like a dog/I was born to die just like a man!" he bellowed on "Four Score and Seven." Guitarist Amy Klein shouted along most of time, even when she wasn't singing into a microphone. She did take lead vocal duties for a fun cover of Bikini Kill's riot grrrl anthem "Rebel Girl," which the band learned specifically for this show.
The rest of the set list drew mostly from "The Monitor," from how-can-they-possibly-top-this? opener "A More Perfect Union" to the equally rambunctious "No Future Part Three." As big as the songs sound on record, everything sounded even bigger on Friday. This was no doubt aided by the venue, which lacked the usual sound-absorbing walls of a rock club.
And it was as loud as it was hot; four ceiling fans did little to lessen the sweat quotient. But there were no complaints. Stickles told the audience he would remember the show for the rest of his life and the feeling was very likely mutual.
April 19, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
Categories: In concert | Tags: Titus Andronicus
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