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Sunday, 22 August 2010 07:56

LouFest 2010 Preview: Titus Andronicus + Video

LouFest 2010 Preview: Titus Andronicus
Written by pj del
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The Monitor by Titus Andronicus: The Concept Album We Needed

My friend Charlie recommended Titus Andronicus to me. He is a 26-year-old intellectual, although in hipster fashion would likely refute the moniker. He's preachy, kind of like everyone else about my age. Emblematic of my generation, Charlie believes voting is meaningless because campaign finance laws make the power of an individual's voice worthless. And when challenged by his father that, "You don't have a right to complain unless you vote," he responded, "Who cares anyway?"

Fueled by current economic turmoil and a divisive political landscape, the aptitude to question everything intensifies, and then drifts away into nothingness.

Enter: Titus Andronicus. Hailing from Glen Rock, N.J. the quintet has captured the existential enjoyment of our angst with lyrics like "It's all right the way you piss and moan." Ah, the confirmation we all thought we didn't need, but rejoice in hearing.

Thomas Hobbes famously wrote, "Life is short, brutish and nasty." Titus Andronicus could deliver that line with a fist pump.

The band is named after a lesser known Shakespearean tragedy. I can't tell if the allusion carries profound meaning, or if the band randomly spotted Bill's old transcript in an independent bookstore around the corner from me and dug how the six syllables flowed. Either way, who cares? It sticks.

The band has been touring our side of the equator promoting their latest album, The Monitor. Listening to The Monitor is like having a fun, heated debate with close friends that ends with someone saying, "You're all crazy, now let's go grab a beer."

Alas, this is a concept album in the digital age where everything is reduced to bits. How perfectly antithetical! The album borrows its name from a Civil War battleship, but themes present in The Monitor are more personal than political. Weaving stories about a war in the 19th century with 21st century torment about falling short of personal actualization is difficult enough to explain, let alone pull off artistically. But the band has managed to fuse rock with the tragedy of America's past: "If I go in on a donkey, let me go out on a gurney."

Lead singer Patrick Stickles screams as if every word actually matters, and the band backs up his vocal rage alternating between chaotic, lo-fi punk and simplistic Springsteen anthems.

"The enemy is everywhere" is a theme laced throughout the album. It speaks more to our nature and how much easier it is to personify a demon outside of ourselves rather than focus on what's wrong introspectively. It's like having twenty bad roommates over years of apartment sharing without once thinking maybe I am the problem?

We are, after all, flawed intellectuals, and kind of preachy from time to time.

Titus Andronicus performs at 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 28 at LouFest. 88.1 KDHX is a media sponsor of LouFest.

Titus Andonicus: Live at KDHX 2/4/09

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