I've previously praised the hysterical, historical, incredible punk compositions of Titus Andronicus in these pages, but seeing them live was a whole other animal. Lead singer/guitarist Patrick Stickles has a limitless amount of charisma, and the audience loved every second that he pinballed around the stage, off the stage and even into the audience. His between-song banter caused laughs, and his requests that the audience sing along were raucously approved. Titus Andronicus traffics in unusually long songs that ramble and wander all over the place at the whim of Stickles, but the tunes almost always come to a concluding phrase that can be screamed repeatedly. This was true for the phrases "You will always be a loser," "Rally around the flag," "Your life is over," "I'm going insane," and "My eating disorder."
Those last two refrains may be unfamiliar to many Titus Andronicus fans, as they are from two new songs. (The repeated phrase was the name of the song in both cases.) One of them will be released on a 7" record, and the other's release schedule was not noted. The new songs were fascinating, retaining many aspects that TA fans have become accustomed to, while introducing pop-punk tempos, Irish inflections in the melodies, and a bit of metal influence in some of the guitar solos. I and Matt are both thoroughly looking forward to the songs' releases.
The audience was whipped into a fever pitch from the first moment of the show, and their passion boiled over in the tune "Titus Andronicus." Stickles yelled, "Your life is over!" into the microphone repeatedly while he crowd-surfed through the audience; it was a near-perfect convergence of bands and fans. They delivered him nicely back into the press pit, and he climbed up on stage to break down. The audience walked away in a dazed haze. Matt and I agreed that it was one of the more impressive shows we had seen at SXSW (and Matt suggested ever, for him).
Photos by Matt Carney