Lee's Palace, Toronto, ON, November 27
Whether filtering lyrics through a first-person narrative or a Civil War battle, front-man and creative architect Patrick Stickles doesn't shy away from weighty themes. Whatever the subject matter, he emphasizes the importance of syntax and phrasing, and his band's live show did the same.
Strutting out of the gate with a straightforward take on "Ecce Homo," the five-piece began with measured beats and an insistent melody that gave way to the grand "Still Life with Hot Deuce and Silver Platter." A feat of pacing, the latter was an early highlight with a trio of rollicking guitars that disguised a deceptively hooky backbone.
The always massive "Titus Andronicus" — an increasingly poignant mission statement and can't-miss sing-along — saw Stickles cavorting with the crowd, while follow-up "Four Score and Seven" provided a needed respite, buoyed by an after-hours guitar melody and incessant kick drum.
Nevertheless, the combo was at their best when they went big, especially on cuts like "A More Perfect Union" and "Upon Viewing Brueghel's 'Landscape with the Fall of Icarus,'" both of which made great use of fake-outs and sporadic explosions.
Throughout various lineups, Titus's shambolic approach has always befitted its balls-out shows, but the current starting five is a cut above. Case in point, guitarist Adam Reich's spotlight turn on a largely effective cover of Neil Young's "Down by the River" held together a sprawling gambit.
Neil wasn't the only surprise. Owen Pallett — guest starring as the Anonymous Fiddler — fleshed out a catchy "In a Big City" and helped out a relatively flat — despite Stickles's high hopes — "In a Small Body."
Still, much of the show tended toward the ferocious, creating a non-stop mosh pit and near constant in-crowd screaming. With a career arc that includes an epic concept record, Titus managed to seamlessly revisit its entire oeuvre, dexterously toeing a line between sheer bombast and thoughtfulness.
ReviewsMar 21, 2015
Viet CongFader Fort, Austin TX, March 20
It's simple: Viet Cong were on the wrong bill. Scheduled just after Kehlani's pop/R&B hybrid and before Migos and secret guests Big Sean and...
ReviewsMar 19, 2015
Courtney BarnettStubb's BBQ, Austin TX, March 18
Without a word, Courtney Barnett arrived onstage, bathed in blue light and charging out the first track from her forthcoming LP, Sometimes I...
ReviewsMar 18, 2015
Natalie PrassCheer Up Charlie's, Austin TX, March 17
"Okay I guess we're ready!" shrugged Natalie Prass from the stage after troubleshooting her Wurlitzer and finding that, due to technical dif...
ReviewsMar 18, 2015
The ZombiesMellow Johnny's, Austin TX, March 17
Yes, the Zombies. That was the answer all night as people found out that the Zombies — yes the Odessey And Oracle ones, yes the "Time ...