Titus Andronicus at 7th St. Entry, 8/31/13
Photo by Joanna Fox
With Lost Boy
7th St. Entry, Minneapolis
August 31, 2013
Patrick Stickles clearly isn't over the thrill of finally getting to see the Replacements. The Titus Andronicus frontman penned an impassioned and adoring 9,000+ word screed for Spin following the beloved Minneapolis band's reunion at Riot Fest, and on Saturday night at the Entry, he couldn't resist giving a nod to his musical heroes in the room that they helped make famous.
Stickles led his band through a fittingly sloppy but spirited run through of a couple of 'Mats classics during the encore of a raucous, shambolic set that found Stickles joking that his band quit on him and contemptuously lecturing the audience on more than one occasion, while also messily tearing through nearly two hours of hyper-literate punk songs that had the boisterous, holiday weekend crowd into it from the start.
Stickles took the stage alone to do some last-minute tuning, before he eventually greeted the packed club with a rambling introduction. "Good evening, everybody. Thanks for coming out. Anytime is a good time to have the time of your life. Nobody's got church in the morning. Me and the other guys in the band had a big fight tonight, over which Tom Petty album is better. I say Full Moon Fever, and they said Damn the Torpedos. So I'm going to go it alone tonight. This is my fate, keeping vigil over the ever-flickering flame. We'll do auditions for the new band later. Here we go, give me a chance."
Stickles eased into the start of "Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ," on his own, before the rest of the band "surprised" him by joining him on stage, and when they got to the defiant "fuck you" that closes out the first verse, the song and the entire room exploded in a celebratory release of energy. A scorching version of "Joset of Nazareth's Blues" quickly followed, with Stickles's voice sounding a bit ragged and worn as he grittily wailed the lyrics. The club really erupted with the untamed fury of "A More Perfect Union," with the pit in front of the stage thrashing about wildly while crowd-surfers rose tenuously into the rafters of the room.
But Stickles had a few vehement things to say about that before the show continued. "Listen up, all eyes on me right now. Crowd surfing is ethically dubious to begin with, but if you absolutely have to do it, don't fucking do it with no shoes on. Putting your bare foot in someone's face is absolutely fucking disgusting. That's the grossest thing I've seen this whole tour. This isn't like Ronald's Playland at McDonald's here. I can't believe we've got to explain how disgusting that is, but here we are." And with that lecture, most of the crowd-surfing ceased throughout the rest of the show (especially from the guy who was doing it barefoot).
As for the music itself, Titus's songs were loose and rather ramshackle all evening long, with Stickles sneering his vocals without much enunciation, seemingly far more interested in providing a guitar-fueled edge to the band's blistering rock sound than he was in paying much attention to the insightful, percipient lyrics that make his songs so compelling in the first place. But despite the sloppiness of the arrangements, the songs still churned with a brutal force, as "In a Big City," "Upon Viewing Oregon's Landscape With the Flood of Detritus," and a tempestuous take on "Richard II" all sounded riotous in the packed Entry.
Stickles again addressed the audience before the next number, telling us how much he and the band (now made up of drummer Eric Harm, guitarist Adam Reich, and bassist Julian Veronesi) have been listening to Zen Arcade in the tour van. "You love to party here in Minneapolis, and you love to have a ball -- and your rock music reflects that. But it's not all just sloppy noise. We are writing our own rock opera inspired by Zen Arcade. We'll skip to the third act and start with the scariest part for you."
With that, the band launched into the swampy, Kiss-like introduction that gradually gave way for a rocking new song called "He Said," which seemed to go on forever as Stickles kept reviving the song even after the rest of the band thought it was over. A decidedly more poppy and vibrant new song, "Fatal Flaw," came next, and indeed both these songs sounded inspired and interesting, and based on these two tracks, the next Titus record should be a real scorcher.
But sadly Stickles felt the need to lecture the audience once again, bringing the mood of the room down with him in the process. "It's just getting too crazy in here now. There's a lot more important stuff than beer, OK? There are plenty of other bands out there happy to validate your alcoholism. We're not one of them. This isn't a fucking drinking party, this is a thinking party. This is a feeling party. We have a plan, OK? Trust us." After that excessive preaching, some of the energy was sapped out of the club, especially when the show continued with a slower number, "To Old Friends and New," with Stickles and the crowd delivering each of the bitter, acerbic lines together.
Photo by Joanna Fox
A rousing take on "Albert Camus" ignited the show once again, before the band joked around a bit by running through a couple of verses of Beck's "Devil's Haircut." After a rather uneven take on "My Time Outside the Womb," Stickles took a moment to virulently respond to someone's desperate pleas for the band to play "A More Perfect Union." "We played that one like an hour ago. Where were you? You blew it. This song is dedicated to whoever else did a YouTube search of the band this afternoon before coming to the show." A spitfire rendition of "Titus Andronicus" really got the pit roiling and the crowd singing along in full voice, as the band breathlessly tore through the anthemic number.
After praising the people in the back for conducting themselves like "well behaved adults" during the show, Stickles again found himself alone on stage. "They told me that if I gave one more overly long speech, they'd quit on me again. Oh well. I'm trying to tell you the truth tonight, or am I just trying to get your money? You'll never know." He forged onward alone at the start of "Four Score and Seven," before the band again joined him as the number rolled on, devastating both the crowd and the band with its fierce potency. So much so that Stickles had to quickly scarf down a banana in two rapid bites while he layered the end of the main set with harsh, strident feedback.
The band returned for a surprise encore, with Stickles's claim of "We usually don't do this" backed up by the fact that their drummer Eric had to hustle back onstage from his duties at the merch table in order to join the rest of the guys, all while Stickles sang a few lines while beat-boxing the rhythm to Ben Harper's "Steal My Kisses." "Minneapolis is hot once again," Stickles announced excitedly. "The most talked about band in the world is from here. There's no reason to deny it. This is just a jukebox set."
And with that, the instantly recognizable guitar riff to "Can't Hardly Wait" rang out in the Entry once again as Stickles led the band through a spirited run through of the 'Mats classic. The encore continued with an appropriately sloppy but no less jubilant take on "Bastards of Young," with the crowd helping Stickles out with the few words he forgot as they sang along in full voice. Patrick even tagged on a bit of "Treatment Bound" to the end of the set, before the group called it a night. "Thank you everybody for coming out," Stickles said as the night wound down. "You came out and you did your best, and we did our best, and it was the best." And while the lectures and some of the shoddy executions of the songs dragged down parts of the set, that rousing finish ultimately made the show special for everyone.
Personal Bias: I've seen Titus Andronicus play more shows as an opener than headlining gigs of their own. It was nice to see them have a night for themselves, though at times the performance got a little self-indulgent.
The Crowd: A Saturday night crowd that clearly had some aggression to work out.
Overheard in the Crowd: "There are a LOT of dudes in here."
Random Notebook Dump: I still miss Amy.
Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ
Joset of Nazareth's Blues
A More Perfect Union/Titus Andronicus Forever
In a Big City
Upon Viewing Oregon's Landscape with the Flood of Detritus
To Old Friends and New
Devil's Haircut (Beck)
My Time Outside the Womb
Four Score and Seven
Can't Hardly Wait (The Replacements)
Bastards of Young/Treatment Bound (The Replacements)
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