Titus Andronicus - El Rey - 11/8/2012
Titus Andronicus with Ceremony
Given all of the excitement going on elsewhere in town last night, including what might be Chan "Cat Power" Marshall's last show in L.A. for a while, those of us headed to see New Jersey's Titus Andronicus knew we were taking the road less-traveled. How lightly traveled? Well, they barely filled the floor at the El Rey, with elbowroom a plenty.
Supported by Bay Area punk rockers Ceremony and Henry Clay People, Titus Andronicus is something of a one-band mixtape celebrating the best parts off beat rock and punk. Touring behind their new album Local Business, the group is supporting local record stores along the way, promoting Echo Park's Oragami Vinyl here.
Here's how it played out:
9:25 PM: 9:30 PM: Ceremony explodes. A small part of the crowd explodes.
Ceremony does aggression in such a Dischord-era way, but without that second layer. They're like Fugazi without Ian. This is fine. Sometimes you don't need Ian. Throughout the set, about five people express their inner anarchy. One guy gets hit in the head and goes down heavily like a bag of heavy things.
9:56 PM: Mic stand breaks.
9:58 PM: Mic stand fixed.
10:20 PM: Exit Ceremony.
10:30 PM: Getting air, I meet Lando Killrissian and Floorpunch. Lando (the name she gave herself) is a Derby girl who thinks all of these bands are "pussies." Floorpunch (the name I gave him) is like the village griot of So Cal hardcore. Seriously, the guy has a wikipedic knowledge of everything punk and metal that ever happened south of Salinas and he's downloading it all out of his mouth. He explains the differences between Ojai hardcore and Oxnard hardcore (nardcore?). You can't make this shit up.
10:46 PM: Enter Titus Andronicus! They blast into several new tracks from Local Business. People are bouncing and gyrating, but there's not full-blown anarchy yet. Hilariously, there's a man in his mid-'50s and his friend who know all of the lyrics to these songs. In fact, everyone appears to know them all but me.
Ladies and gentlemen, there's a fucking hippie in the pit -- exactly the type of inclusion that characterizes Titus Andronicus. That is, until minutes later, when that hippie is swarmed with four-alarm punk fury and dozens of slamming bodies.
11:02 AM: Amid all two-dozen highly-visible professional photographers, L.A. Weekly photog Timothy Norris is nowhere to be seen and yet everywhere...because he is a fucking ninja.
11:10: Aaaaaaand....here come the metal horns all at once. Five of them. During a ballad. Really?
At this point, lead singer Patrick Sickles takes a moment to address the crowd. "Next, we'l be playing songs by my mom's favorite rapper, Pitbull."
Someone screams, "Pitbull fucking sucks!"
Sickles respond laconically, "Come on guys, it's my mom's fave."
The band does not play any Pitbull.
11:40 PM: They're in full on rock mode now. Why isn't this what New Jersey is famous for? They could be playing an entirely enjoyable smattering of aggressive music like Titus Andronicus right now.
And then, apropos of nothing...out of nowhere, they play The Contours' "Do You Love Me." They kill it. The crowd, confused at first, takes to it like a wedding party on it's last legs -- dancing around wildly. I can't wipe the shit-eating grin off my face.
"That song sucks," Sickles explains sarcastically, "It's great to listen to at home by yourself. But not at all in this environment. You've never heard us play it before. Trust us, we know."
It's hard to go up from there.
12:06 AM:There's a guy in a plaid jacket is standing on something, blocking the stage for the tenth time tonight. Ok, we're not saying that violence is the best solution here, but, perhaps, the only solution. Can someone please hit that guy with a sock full of ball bearings?
12:11 AM: Two old douchebags tried to drag a dolled-up future NJ housewife into the final moshpit. She's refuses. They try again. Same outcome.
12:15 AM: Closes with "A More Perfect Union." The End. Exeunt.
Personal bias: I volunteered with one of Titus Andronicus' sisters at the DC Books to Prisons project. I don't remember which one. But, given that they've had 40 line-up changes in four years, haven't we all volunteered with one of their sisters at some point?
The crowd: More plaid shirts than an olde-tymey lumberjack convention.
Random notebook dump: There's a guy here in a blue blazer, khaki pants and a tie. How brave! To be outdoors so soon after the Yacht-pocalypse of Mitt Romney on Tuesday night.
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