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Baked, Spider Bags, Titus Andronicus At The Roxy, Saturday September 26th 2015 Review

Untitled

Titus Andronicus

 

When I bought a ticket for Titus Andronicus at the Roxy, I didn’t know Patrick Stickles would do an in-store the same day at Permanent Records… so I ended up seeing him twice the same day, certainly not a problem, especially because both shows were quite different: As much as the record store gig allowed Patrick to talk and show his talent of stand up comedian, the show at the Roxy was all action, and what action!

Now, I know why Stickles has such a thin silhouette, if he does this kind of marathon every night, it is completely explanatory. Plus, he had a unique way to start the show, talking to the audience, gently strumming his guitar while his musicians were softly getting on stage, and this build-up, this anticipation of what was about to come worked very well, Stickles is a showman and he knows how to set up a show…

But before going further, I should say that Baked and Spider Bags opened the night, and both bands rose the energy level of the room right away. The Brooklyn 5-piece band Baked brought a loud distortion with a ravaging punk monster combination of guitars, bass and synth with deep and taciturn vocals… I don’t think they would appreciate to be called a psychedelic shoe gaze band, because it was not always the case and their set was too eclectic for that. As a matter of fact, they suddenly came up with a slow country song with a gritty voice and a fuzzy sonic wall, and their last song, sung by their female vocalist, was much poppier, but they still liked to mess up with distortion.

Spider Bags is quite a funny moniker and the band had a very nervous and fast tempo sound, even impetuous, with lots of energy which made them the perfect opener for Titus Andronicus. There was a rich and happy dynamism all-set long, the kind of stuff that produces super-fast head banging. Two members of Titus Andronicus joined them on keyboard and guitar for a song, but otherwise it was very much fiery guitar-oriented music. If their first songs had some punk hillibilly vibe, the further they were progressing in their set, the less I could make sense of the melodies, it was just a thick psychedelia, installing chaos through distortion, getting louder and denser and slowly fucking up my eardrums.

The Roxy is a legendary place, and they have their own rules, I had brought my camera with me, and I was not sure I could use it, but I took some pics of course, discreetly… but the security finally saw it and confiscated it!! And it was just after Patrick Stickles’ opening tirade about being punk, having no authority but ourselves and doing whatever we wanted… yeah right! Camera policy is weird in Los Angeles, I have never any problem in some venues, and for some reasons, at other places, the security guards point their flash lights at you in the middle of a show as if you were a criminal tracked by the LAPD,… I rolled my eyes and argued for a minute by that was useless, they threatened to expel me from the show! So punk of me…

But nothing could have spoiled my pleasure in seeing Titus Andronicus in action once again, the show had just started like a wild ride, and it didn’t stop, it became much more rowdy and violent half-way through it – so I had to move on the side, avoiding to get crushed … Too bad because I was so close from the mic, that Stickles was spitting on me. But the show never disappointed for a minute, it was a magnificent beast, an epic battle – and this may have become a sort of cliché for the New Jersey band – I had the impression they were playing 40, 50 songs, but if I believe the setlist posted, they only played 18 of them. Still it felt like a marathon, releasing an incremental energy at each song. Starting with Stickles alone on stage during ‘Four Score And Seven’, it was soon complete madness, there was nothing to stop Stickles and there was not a dry t-shirt in the room.

Of course, there were the new songs from their latest rock opera ‘The Most Lamentable Tragedy’, briefly introduced by Patrick, telling us that we may find them satisfying, or intriguing, or both. An epic (90-minute-long) rock opera should not be a surprise for anybody, knowing that the band picked a Shakespearian tragedy for moniker, but it shows once again how ambitious they are with their sound, and the new songs were translating the same explosive anger than the older ones. The riffs were as intense as Stickles’ mad stare at us, and everything was sung in a forceful unison, at the top of everyone’s lungs, as the entire crowd was singing along. This is the deal with a Titus Andronicus show, all the young guys around (and some girls too) are living the music with such fervor, that it is a whole side spectacle happening in front of the stage.

If the new tune ‘Stranded’ has almost classic rock riffs, everything was played with dense assaults and a punk spirit, Stickles’ grand gestures and pissed-off attitude, and some impressive stage moves, they were all restless, bringing the show to epic heights with successive explosions and chaotic nonsense…. They must have played most of the ‘No Future’ songs, annihilating the place each time, bringing a tempest and slowing down like survivors after an hurricane. They did this repeatedly, and each time it could have been the grand finale, but they were resuscitating the set every time. I can’t tell if there was a real highlight of the show, but for sure looking at a crowd shouting in unison ‘You will always be a loser’ or ‘Fuck you’ always work for me. It seems that these people go through a transforming experience, and they all are in love with Patrick Stickles’ restless abandon, a guy whose fury seems to carry him through his never-ending set, a drenched-in-sweat guy who says at the end of the show, ‘we can’t leave you like this’, before covering Weezer’s ‘Say it ain’t so’. I wonder what makes Patrick Stickles decide he must finally end the gig, but that was it, this time, and there was no encore, it would have been totally superfluous after this immense battle, it was better to get lost in this maze of punk anthems then disappeared with a bang behind the heavy velvet curtain of the Roxy. I had to get my camera back, well as long as there’s a law, I’ll be a criminal…

 

Setlist

Four Score And Seven
Titus Andronicus
No Future Part IV: No Future Triumphant
Stranded (On My Own)
Lonely Boy
Ecce Homo
Still Life with Hot Deuce on Silver Platter
Fatal Flaw
Fired Up
Into the Void (Filler)
Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ
A More Perfect Union
No Future
No Future Part Two: The Day After No Future
No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future
A Pot In Which To Piss
Dimed Out
Say It Ain’t So
(Weezer cover)

A few pictures of the show here.

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