I’m the type of person who, if I see a band’s name enough times, I can’t help but check it out at a live show. That’s how I ended up at the Titus Andronicus show last night. Would my time had been better spent packing and getting ready for Riot Fest in Chicago this weekend? Absolutely. But I had seen Titus Andronicus’ name on other bills and on random playlists I follow enough to know that this was a band I had to catch live and see what all the hype was about.
Being that I was only at the show on a whim, I had no expectations and no idea as to what I was getting myself into but as soon as opening act Control Top took the stage I knew I had made the right decision. The trio took the stage with vocalist/ bassist Ali Carter and guitarist Al Creedon wearing red suits. There was something intriguing about this look and something captivating somehow. I don’t usually get into fashion at show but I feel like the suits led me to believe that their set was going to be laid back and calm. Man was I wrong.
As soon as drummer Alex Lichtennaur (yes, that means the band members are Al, Ali and Alex) kicked into the first song of what would be a nearly forty minute set (which was not long enough in any way, shape or form) I was swept off my feet and fell head over heels for this post-punk trio. The music was chaotic and they had a live show to match. Although just three members, the amount of energy radiating from the stage was so much more than full bands that I see on the daily. There was something mezmerising about the way Ali Carter commanded the crowd with her exaggerated yet not over the top faces. Captivating doesn’t even begin to describe it and when Ali jumped off the stage and into the crowd I knew that this band was going to be in my top ten favorite and most surprising opening acts of the year.
As mentioned, the music was chaotic but there was clearly a message in hidden in the chaos. The way Ali sang and Al and Alex played was full of passion. You could tell that they truly loved being on stage and really just wanted to share their music with crowds everywhere. Although an opening act on a not sold out Monday night show, Control Top gave the audience everything they had and the chatter in the room following their set said it all. Everyone was raving about the band and although I was at the show alone, I found myself grabbing my phone after their set just to start texting my music-loving friends about them. What an amazing live band. Seriously. Go see Control Top.
I could have left after that. I had gotten what I needed– a great Monday night show– from the opening act alone. Honestly, I didn’t feel like Titus Andronicus could hold a candle to what had just happened and although I feel like Control Top stole the show, it wasn’t an easy steal. Vocalist Patrick Stickles took the stage alone and instantly flooded the room with his made-for-NPR voice. He talked about how badly he just needed a good show. He explained that there was something wrong with the van, not that it really affected the van, but it made an awful and annoying sound that nobody could really stand. Why am I telling you all of this? Because the talking went on for nearly ten minutes and although I typically get annoyed by something like this especially from a band I knew nothing about, there was something intensely captivating about Patrick. After story time, he broke into a somber song that lasted another ten minutes. Just Patrick and a guitar, I couldn’t help but worry that this was it. This somber, acousticy yet very intense music was all I was going to get from Titus Andronicus. It’s not that it was bad but, as suspected, it didn’t hold a candle to what Control Top had just done on the stage.
After the heart-felt solo song done by Patrick, the rest of the band joined him on stage and I was shook back to reality. Any fear of there being a lack of energy or me getting bored with the performance flew out the window. I can’t tell you what songs the band played because literally I knew about them when standing at the show last night was their name but I can tell you that, after doing some research this morning, these guys are clearly not a new band. With six albums out and a smattering of EP’s, splits, demos, and singles, Titus Andronicus has been on the grind since they started in 2005. You can hear and see that grind when watching this group live. There was a sense of professionalism and perfection in their music but, like Control Top, you could see that all of the members were clearly having a great time on stage and truly love doing what they’re doing.
The music of Titus Andronicus was intense and in your face but didn’t seem as chaotic as Control Top’s. Don’t take that as a hint at a lack of energy though. The sound had the audience moving around much more than most Monday night crowd’s and, although I had never heard the songs before, there was something infectious about the beats and the way the music was laid out that had me moving along to the beat. You could hear elements in their music that ranged in everything from metal to indie which doesn’t seem to be too rare these days but the way this band ties all of those influences together is something of brilliance.
I went to last night’s concert only because I had seen the name Titus Andronicus too many times to the point where I just had to check it out. I don’t make many good decisions in my life but that one was an amazing.