I love going to venues I’ve never been before, especially to see a group or artist I’ve seen elsewhere. So, I approached Saturday night’s show with optimism, thinking that if the Titus Andronicus show was anywhere even close to as good as their performance at Subterranean, I would be in for a treat.
And after being fist-bumped for wearing a Wilco T-shirt, my optimism grew 10 times.
The first band certainly didn’t disappoint. Male Bonding is a three-piece group of guys from England who came out dripping with attitude and talent.
I thought it would be rough for them to play to a good-sized crowd that probably didn’t have an inkling who they were, but Male Bonding seem to have no concept of the audience’s ignorance. They played hard and fast without worrying whether the audience was singing along.
Their energy was a great setup for the next band, who, I thought, really blew the lid off.
Free Energy, hailing from Philadelphia, is a five-member group of kids who are deeply influenced by ’70s rock. After a couple of songs, the image I was getting in my head was of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers playing with the energy of Iggy and The Stooges. The crowd was getting really into the group, and Free Energy was playing like it could be their last show.
I didn’t really have an idea of who they were before the show started, but they certainly paint a clear picture in their live performance. I urge anyone to seek out their music and definitely check out a show the next time they hit Chicago or, if you aren’t in Chicago, a town near you.
Best Coast played third, and here I have a bit of a problem. I’m not a fan of Best Coast. At all. They have a large group of people who enjoy their music, and they are critically praised, based on Metacritic’s score of 78 for their full-length debut. I just don’t get it.
Their performance, much like the album, all sounded the same to me. Like one long 45-minute song with little interstitials for clapping. And it isn’t to say I don’t think they’re talented. They can sing and play their instruments just fine. It just doesn’t hit me.
A lot of the crowd enjoyed Best Coast’s set. And maybe I’m being too harsh because I was getting antsy for Titus to get up on stage. I don’t know. Check ’em out and decide for yourself.
Titus Andronicus. What can I say? It is an experience one really needs to live through to truly understand. There is a certain connectivity between the band and the audience that you lose yourself in. When the show is over, your throat will be sore, your body will ache and you will be both mentally and physically exhausted.
The great thing is that you don’t mind at all, because Titus Andronicus is a great live band, and putting your mind and body through the ringer is part of the performance.
My favorite thing about Titus, and a lot of bands that thrive on stage, is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Too many times when you see a band — and I’ll use U2 as an example — everthing is pre-determined. When is the last time Bono hit a bad note during a show? 1991? Having that kind of production is great for fans who want to hear “Vertigo” exactly as it is on the record, but it is also very predictable and boring.
Boring is a word I don’t think I could even fathom someone saying about Titus Andronicus’ live show. Who cares if Patrick Stickles’ vocals are a bit off-key, or if Amy Klein’s violin is out of tune? Of course it is. Do you see how much fun they are having jumping up and down and screaming??
Why would you expect a song like “No Future, Pt. Three: Escape From No Future” to sound exactly like it does on The Monitor? Stay home and listen to it. The performance of that song, which we have on video, is an explosion of emotion and sonic angst. I almost hate the album version for not being as full and deep as the live show.
I still love the album, though. And the performance only builds on my feeling that Titus Andronicus is going to be around for a long, long time. I hope that everyone who reads this gets a chance to see them over the next couple of years. I know you’ll regret it if you don’t.
- Check out my review of Titus Andronicus’ The Monitor.
Titus Andronicus performing No Future, Pt. Three: Escape from No Future