October 23, 2012

Titus Andronicus played Shea Stadium

"We put together the longest setlist of the band's career, so everyone get comfortable. We have about twelve more songs to go." That's not something a band typically announces shortly into their set. For the release of their third record, Local Business, New Jersey punks Titus Andronicus annihilated Shea Stadium with an almost two hour long set comprised of material from all three of their excellent records. Before heading out in support of the new album, the band played a final local sendoff to many friends and family in the intimate loft space and ripped through a stunning display of power-pop riffs, swelling choruses, and Replacement style break downs. Phenomenal transitions between songs are part of what makes Titus' albums so great and the live renditions only amplify the band's talent. "Ecce Homo" into "Still Life with Hot Deuce On Silver Platter" kicked off the evening and "Food Fight" into "My Eating Disorder" really riled things up. Patrick announced at one point that the band had to relearn a bunch of their older songs and they even debuted a brand new song that doesn't appear on their new album. "I Gotta Date Tonight" blended into "In A Big City" which was probably the best received new track and "(I am The) Electric Man" transitioned into a stomping cover of "Do You Love Me?". The expanded line-up allows for a triple guitar attack and gives their new material a richer sound and heightens any of their previous material. Naming their record Local Business exemplifies the communal nature of the band which is a vital aspect of how they operate. The band brought out drummer Eric Harm's father Steven to join in on harmonica for "Tried to Quit Smoking" as he does on the record and former guitarist Amy Klein got down in the pit. While the new tracks sounded great, part of what makes their live show so special is the involvement from the crowd so it might take some time for these songs to see their full potential. The chanting of the lyrics back to the men onstage instills a connection rarely seen by bands and their crowd. Titus Andronicus is band by the people for the people. Their charged anthems are composed of definite political context beyond the Civil War analogies of The Monitor and perhaps the best part of Local Business is the directness of the lyrics. The grandiose song writing doesn't seem as abstract as it has in the past (Patrick Stickles actually has an eating disorder and wrote "(I Am The) Electric Man" after being jolted during band practice) and this could be some of their most accessible material to date. Since the beginning of their career, there have been countless claims that they've been inspired by Springsteen (a plague to anyone from the Garden State), however on this record it seems truer than ever. They are working class men from the other side of the river. Their themes are embedded in blue collar hometown roots. They themselves are their own Local Business.

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