Live Review: Titus Andronicus

Chaotic venue; chaotic band; glorious result. Market Hotel, Brooklyn. Friday, March 27

Contrary to what you probably think, being NME’s New York correspondent isn’t all box-seats at Madison Square Garden, hanging out with Stipey at Carnegie Hall and getting blowjobs in the bathrooms of trendy Lower East Side bars. Well, it certainly isn’t tonight, anyway. Located in Brooklyn’s super-sketchy Bushwick district, Market Hotel is a piece-of-shit loft-space where the bogs are little more than cesspits with ceramic tiling and the bands play through a PA that sounds like a banshee having a psychotic episode.

It’s an ad-hoc set up that makes Titus Andronicus’ first three songs virtually unlistenable, with between-song feedback that leaves the quintet covering their ears in pain. But there’s no hissy fits or ‘we’re on the same label as Radiohead, so bugger this’-type strops; instead, the raggedy New Jersey rockers embrace the noise and disorder like the glorious screw-ups they are. Frontman Patrick Stickles seems especially enthusiastic to throw himself – quite literally – into the thick of it. Cringe at the cliché if you must, but he truly is in a constant state of catharsis onstage as he thrashes around to the exhilarating, Replacements-meets-Bright Eyes stomp of ‘Upon Viewing Brueghel’s Landscape With The Fall Of Icarus’, or when he delivers the euphoric “FUCK YOU!” kiss-off in ‘Fear And Loathing In Mahwah, NJ’.

Their album might be called ‘The Airing Of Grievances’, but TA don’t peddle bog-standard existentialist angst.

Sure, Stickles clearly has a lot of pent-up emotions, but it’s this hour of abandon that obviously makes his life worthwhile. And if the reckless flailing of plastered kids in all corners of the room is anything to go by, there are plenty of other people here finding a similar release from being polite and bored.

It all comes to a riotous head as the band hurtle through a ramshackle version of The Modern Lovers’ proto-punk staple ‘Roadrunner’ and Stickles invites the increasingly belligerent punters to rush the stage. In the melée, guitarist Andy Cedermark breaks his glasses before Stickles consoles him by throwing him into the crowd during the encore. Complete and utter chaos from start to finish, then, but it’s in this environment that Titus Andronicus air their grievances most effectively.

Hardeep Phull