Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Last Weeks of Maxwell's, Part 4: Titus Andronicus / Screaming Females, 7/15/13

Peeking Through Blotches of the Blood of Bugs Towards the Elysian Fields

The crowd at this show was a lot younger than any of the crowds at the other Maxwell's shows I'd attended in recent weeks. I took comfort in the fact that the guy I just met was somewhat older than I was and such a fan of Titus Andronicus that he made the drive down from Boston to Hoboken with his family, after purchasing tickets on the aftermarket, just to see one of his favorite bands. He told me something similar to what I'd hear from several other people over the course of the evening.

He said that he and his family had arrived in New Jersey the previous day. Somehow, they managed to contact Titus Andronicus frontman / mastermind, Patrick Stickles guitarist Liam Betson. Upon finding out that these folks had come all the way from Boston, with tickets only for Monday night's show, Stickles Betson put them on the guest list for Sunday night. They loved the show and told me I was in for a treat.

Leading up to Titus Andronicus's final, three-night stand at Maxwell's, each show appeared on the schedule as "Titus Andronicus with Special Guests." On Sunday night, New Brunswick's Screaming Females announced that they would be the guests on Monday. This made the show a special one for me. As I've said before, not only do I love both bands; but also, both were the subjects of the first-ever post here at CoolDad Music. I credit Titus Andronicus and Screaming Females, along with Diarrhea Planet, with helping to get me started down the road of doing something that I love. I will be forever grateful.

Screaming Females took the stage just after 9. As they took their places, I asked my new friend from Boston if he'd ever seen or heard them before. No, he said. This would be his first time. I told him to prepare himself, and Screaming Females did not disappoint.

Marissa Paternoster showed up in her usual black, though in short sleeves and collarless this time, perhaps in a nod to the sweltering temperatures. The band opened with "I Don't Mind It" from 2010's Castle Talk and blazed through other favorites like "Expire," "Extinction," and "It All Means Nothing" from 2012's Ugly and "Poison Arrow" from this year's Chalk Tape EP. Paternoster's fingers appeared never to cease moving, while the rhythm section of King Mike and Jarrett D kept everything moving forcefully ever-forward.

When the set was done, I looked over at my friend. He just stared back wide-eyed, shaking his head, mouthing, "Wow."

Titus Andronicus took some time to set up their equipment. While this was happening, young fans started to push their way to the front and to establish their positions. Patrick Stickles announced that all of the guitars and amps were working and that, "We're gonna leave the stage now, and take drugs for the next 20 minutes or so. Then we'll be back." That, of course, was a joke.

Stickles took the mic without his guitar, and the band launched into "Titus Andronicus" from their 2008 debut. The crowd went crazy. Some people had brought miniature American flags and began waving them wildly. Stickles got hold of one and waved it on stage. The frenzy continued through "My Time Outside the Womb" and "A More Perfect Union."

Following the opening barrage, Stickles warned us that, "You're not gonna like what's about to happen to you." He reassured us, though, that, "What you're about to go through isn't the worst thing in the world." The opening strains of "Ecce Homo" signaled the start of 2012's Local Business, which the band proceeded to play in its entirety. I love that record. I feel like it's part of a single narrative formed with The Airing of Grievances and The Monitor. The crowd sang along and fist-pumped in all the right places.

To round out the Local Business portion of the evening, Titus Andronicus played both non-album tracks from their 2013 Record Store Day release, including the Eric Harm composed / sung "The Dog." "I've Got a Date Tonight" provided a segue into two new songs ("Fatal Flaw" and a Pogues-ish number whose chorus, I believe, was "C'mon Siobhan") and a cover of "My Best Friend's Girl." The band closed out the set with "Fear and Loathing in Mahwah, NJ," "No Future Part Three: Escape from No Future," and the 14-minute "The Battle of Hampton Roads."

Titus Andronicus played for approximately 3 hours.

I think it's important that I got to see a slightly different kind of show than what I've seen in recent weeks at Maxwell's. The crowd was very young. I hate mosh pits. I hate crowd-surfing. But I love the songs of Titus Andronicus -- and Screaming Females, for that matter. There was plenty of room to position myself safely outside most of the action and just enjoy the music.

Two guys standing behind me -- two other folks, apparently from South Carolina, who began the night ticketless and ended up inside thanks to Patrick Stickles -- were talking about Maxwell's and its history.

"I've heard that this place is legendary and all, but the New Brooklyn Tavern in Columbia is much cooler than this."

That is something I'd have to see to believe.

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