Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles, reputably articulate in interviews, perplexingly defined his band’s new direction for their third LP, Local Business, as “just five guys rocking out” in the press leading up to its October release. Although 2008’s The Airing of Grievences and 2010’s The Monitor were both excessively sprawling albums in sound and concept, they were markedly among the grittiest rock efforts of their years as well. Aside from shorter songs and maybe some cleaner guitar, fans wondered, How big of a difference were we really talking about?
Last night at the Metro, in their first Chicago performance since the album’s release, they proved that this approach wasn’t just a one-off, “why not?” idea for an album — it’s a whole new philosophy for them. Just as Local Business ditched the cinematic reverb droning and speech interludes in favor of economy, Stickles and co. have reinvented themselves as a band that gets their material to hit as hard as possible by embracing tightness and selflessness (for their audience too – they impressively granted a cover request on a whim) above all. Whereas their shows in support of The Monitor included visual elements like numerous American flags to complement their music, Titus has cut back on the flair this year, thereby considerably boosting their raw intensity. It seems Stickles’ new clean-shaven thing applies on multiple levels.
The big curiosity of the night, then, would be that only four of the 16 songs played were from the new album. “It’s out. It’s a thing that exists,” he bantered with equal parts disbelief and exhaustion. That could have something to do with Stickles’ weariness of all the talk surrounding it – especially of “My Eating Disorder”, which they did not play – but more likely, he came to a conscious conclusion that too many cuts from Airing and Monitor have developed into too forceful of performances live to be spared from a single show. They took their newfound organized aggression and applied it to their most epic cuts off either, especially the four Monitor cuts that closed out the night.
Footnote on “curiosity of the night”: A close second would be fans of an album called Local Business nearly selling out an event called “Miller Lite Presents Titus Andronicus”.
Tour mates Ceremony (in their last Chicago date for some time, according to frontman Ross Farr) and local punk outfit Coffin Pricks (in their penultimate show, Stickles mentioned) solidified a cohesive bill and appropriately warmed up the Metro pit for the abundantly sweaty, roughly 90-minute set that Titus performed. No encore, but the implication there seemed to be that playing one would mean they hadn’t spent themselves entirely in the set. They were among hundreds at the Metro who did.
Photography by Jeremy D. Larson.
In a Big City
Upon Viewing Oregon with the Flood of Detritus
Richard II or Extraordinarily Popular Dimensions and the Madness of Crowds (Responsible Hate Anthem)
My Time Outside the Womb
Upon Viewing Brueghel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus
Still Life with Hot Deuce and Silver Platter
Ghost with a Boner (Diarrhea Planet cover)
Four Score and Seven
Joset of Nazareth’s Blues
No Future Part Three: Escape from No Future
A More Perfect Union
Titus Andronicus Forever
The Battle of Hampton Roads