If you want to stay in the good graces of Titus Andronicus (which played Great American Music Hall this Tuesday), don’t mention frontman Patrick Stickles’ beard, or his recent lack of beard, or his uncanny vocal likeness to Bright Eyes vocalist Conor Oberst, or really much of anything else. But you didn’t hear it from me. Because of his sensitivity, Stickles has been churning out some of the best anger and angst-driven punk rock of this century. In spite of his sensitivity, he still seems to be a super nice guy.
After making the audience wait a mercifully short time following the rollicking awesomeness of opening Northern California punk band Ceremony, Titus Andronicus humbly shuffled onto the stage, unassuming in T-shirts and ill-fitting jeans. “Ready fellas?” Stickles called out to his bandmates, “Let’s show these people a good time. They deserve it.”
Titus delivered. The band tore through most of its new album, Local Business, and most of its 2010 civil war-themed opus The Monitor with incredible energy and the perfect amount of rage. The crowd, mostly 20-something men, responded with enthusiasm, screaming along to choruses, moshing, and stage diving through the jam-packed, hour-and-a-half-long set.
One fan, presumably not a 20-something man, threw a bra onstage, which Stickles declared to be the second in the history of the band. After bassist Julian Veronesi threw it back, Stickles lamented, “I was looking forward to smelling that. Oh well.”
The new songs, stripped down on the record to more closely mimic the band’s guitar-heavy live sound, translated to a channeled, aggressive performance that proved, along with the seasoned favorites, to be among the show’s standout tracks.
In between songs, friendly audience members struggled to return fallen sweatshirts and packs of cigarettes, shouting out the found items from the pit. During the songs, they returned Veronesi’s pick when he dropped it and crawled onstage to plug in Adam Reich’s guitar when he tugged it out of the hookup.
“There’s a lot of love in the room right now. I can feel it,” Stickles commented before adding, “Get ready to taste the hate.” He then launched into “No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future” whining the opening line, “Everything makes me nervous…”
At the show’s climax Titus covered the Contours’ “Do You Love Me?” and the Replacements’ “Bastards of Young,” restoring a fun, lighthearted atmosphere after the delicious bleakness of “No Future Part Three” which ends with the chant “You will always be a loser.”
Riding the high, Stickles gave shout-outs to friends and to specific fans for everything from their dance moves to the design of their T-shirts. Soon, however, the mood was killed when a fan called out those magic words, “What happened to your beard?” Stickles, disgruntled, accused the fan of taking him out of the zone.
“You’re so sensitive!” someone called out. “What do you want from me?” he retorted. “I’m a fucking artist. I have feelings galore. You’re about to hear some more of them too, so get used to it,” to which I say touché.