GIG REVIEW: Titus Andronicus/Television Personalities/Mazes @ Scala, London.
Last night, I ventured to the Scala near King’s Cross for, surprisingly, the first time. It regularly hosts the best shows in London, with a recent performance from Die Antwoord that I regrettably couldn’t get tickets for. But to see that Titus Andronicus, whose The Monitor is easily in my Top Ten albums this year, not only on tour but performing in this legendary venue was a brilliant surprise. I’ve been eager to see them live since listening to the album, it’s raw, vibrant energy and punk-tinged traditional american rock is meant for a live environment.
Opening the proceedings were Mazes, friends of Male Bonding, who recently signed to Fat Cat Records, their lo-fi, ’90s aesthetic, that reminded me so strongly of Pavement was a real good listen and has made me check out a lot more of their stuff. It was compelling to say the least, really fit the hazy, interior of the Scala. I only really caught the end of the set, but check out and download the awesome song “Go-Betweens” below
Following them were the Television Personalities, the vehicle for Dan Treacy, punk/neo-psychadelica legends that Titus are obviously big fans of, lead singer Patrick Stickles observed them from the front of the crowd in admiration. Admittedly, I don’t listen to this band, but their name and notions influence has sprung up. The set however, was a bit damp and flat, I imagine the years of drinking and taking various narcotics has taken it’s toll. There was little energy present which only made the crowd build up even more of an emotional rage for Titus.
When the time came for Titus Andronicus, who descended upon the stage not long after, they opened as you would expect, with the fantastic “A More Perfect Union”, a rendition, that much like the rest of the set, maintained the sense of urgency and raucous energy present on the album, except ramped up from a distinct 10 to an intense 11. The opening lyrics were sung with such urgency that a choric crowd couldn’t help but join in, the line “I never wanted to change the world, but I’m looking for a new, New Jersey,” receiving particular attention, the crowd’s many attempts to drown out the band failed valiantly.
Patrick Stickles broke up the songs with some hilarious comments, on the gig itself and the lary crowd, to yesterday’s Thanksgiving, “A day where we are thankful that our forefathers decided to massacre the indigenous population…We pretend today that the Indians were our friends and that we bonded over our mutual appreciation of consumption.” This break in songs was quite welcome, the emotionally intensity was quite high, with their instrumental fervor and Patrick’s impassioned singing enjoying the humorous offset.
Even on their slower parts of the songs, like the intro to “A Pot In Which to Piss,” the emotional intensity remained with a crowd almost obsessively fist-pumping and finger-pointing, making for a positively charged and quite unified atmosphere. An atmosphere that understandably went mental as soon as the songs kicked into overdrive. Refrains like “You’ll always be a loser!” on the end of “No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future” were greeted with both a sense of abandon in the mosh as well as seriously loud chanting. Watching the set, you couldn’t deny that Titus aren’t crowd-pleasers. Everyone there looked to be having the fucking time of their lives. Other highlights included “Richard II” and “Titus Andronicus Forever”.
Dan Treacy, from the Television Personalities, invited himself on stage at the latter end of the set, it was a bizarre moment as he haphazardly convinced them, by mere presence, to collaborate with him. Stickles was laughing to his bandmates the whole time, probably partly because of the drunken/drugged nature of Treacy but also in disbelief it was happening. They played a song by the Modern Lovers, which may have been this, and then a song which I assume was a Television Personalities one because Treacy knew all the words and Titus were quick to jump to join him after he played a few chords.
After the humorous but mostly banal interruption, Stickles stated the band would “resume with the regularly scheduled programming.” before kicking off their final song of the night, “Four Score and Seven” A major highlight of “The Monitor” that closed the set off fantastically. The slow, lyrically impassioned end set the crowd off on a high, everyone joined in with the “Christ, Fuck Me!” shout and the repeated “No, You won’t be laughing so hard,” and as the song changes and picks up the pace, the crowd did too. Impassioned and happy, both band and crowd went insane and as played out and extended as the song was it didn’t drop in quality at all. Much like the rest of the night “Four Score and Seven” was sublime. Titus Andronicus bring something to their live shows that enhances their music, already extremely enjoyable, into something essential, a show that has to be seen. Catch them if you can.
Watch “Four Score And Seven” as recorded by Site & Sound