Titus Andronicus at Kilby Court

It took me a few listens to really appreciate The Monitor by Titus Andronicus.  Loosely, and I think needlessly, constructed as a concept album around Civil War themes, The Monitor stands completely on its own as a New Jersey RAWK triump without the need for conceit.  Riffs barrel at breakneck speed in double- and then triple-time to slurred and half-shouted vocals that frequently evoke early Replacements or The Pogues from Europe’s New Jersey, Ireland.

Tuesday night they played at Kilby Court, which seemed an acoustic impossibility. 

It is, what, 800 feet square?  Tin siding is buffered by the barest of carpet to absorb sound.  The only other reason I can judge that it works is the decades-old exposed joices above.  But as I watched lead singer Patrick Stickle setup, I knew the venue would be pretty well maxed-out sonically.

Titus Andronicus wasted no time, opening with double-barrels in “A More Perfect Union” and “Richard II.”  The band rolled though most of the rest of The Monitor along with several tunes from debut The Airing of Grievances.  Occasionally Titus simply overwhelmed the space.  The guitars, pedals, and shrieking vocals would at times reverberate inside the tiny venue and swallow the song.

Too, Stickles made the unfortunate call to engage a babling and clearly delusional teenage girl who yelled over his stage banter and created repeated cringe-worthy moments.  That aside, Stickle’s conversation with the audience between songs was generally awkward and several times took me out of the moment.

Titus Andronicus was at its best rocking like they didn’t care.  The musical and emotional climax of the night was “No Future Part Three” as the band sang-shouted, “You will always be a loser/You will always be a loser and that’s OK.”

The night’s performance opened with Philadelphia’s Free Energy.  Performing with youthful brio and all the rock moves, Free Energy specialized in galactic-sized hooks for your ultimate party pleasure.  Stickles joined the band for a romping version of “Bang Pop” to close their opening set.  It was power pop joy. 

And there was much fist-pumping.

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