At the Thalia Hall show, Finn opened with a collection of songs from his latest solo record (backed by bass and drums from Titus Andronicus), before closing out with a couple of more familiar--and more hard-hitting--songs from his past projects, Nassau Coliseum and The Hold Steady. However, as Titus Andronicus took the stage, the deep introspection fostered by Finn's beautiful rendition of "Certain Songs" gave way to a buzzing energy waiting to be met with Titus Andronicus' explosive opening chords.
After calmly and candidly greeting the crowd and easing into the slow start of "No Future Part III", Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles ripped into the song's aggressive middle and ignited a thrashing crowd that wouldn't slow for nearly an hour. Stickles guided the crowd through tracks from across the band's discography, joining early hits fromThe Airing of Grievances alongside the highlights from their newest album The Most Lamentable Tragedy, weaving in sporadic material from 2012's Local Business as well.
Though sounding dramatically different from some of the deeply layered instrumentation on album tracks, Titus Andronicus's didn't leave the listener unfulfilled. The three guitarists, bass, and keys created a uniquely huge sound, and one perfectly fitting their high-energy live performance. The deep mental turmoil Stickles explores in his albums seems to disappear after his first notes, as if the performance is not just an expressions of his stress but a solace.
The show's peak came approaching the end, as Stickles's compliments of the venue ("like Ford's Theatre") led the audience into frenzied excitement for hearing songs from their most renowned album, 2010's Civil War-themed The Monitor. Indeed, the band tore through 14-minute epic "The Battle of Hampton Roads" and anthemic single "A More Perfect Union" with as much energy as had been seen from them that night, with Stickles and the accompanying band becoming as absorbed in the crashing sound just as much as the cathartic crowd.
For the night's finale, the band was rejoined onstage by Craig Finn for an animated cover of The Replacements' "Bastards of Young". The performance was an utter overload of motion both onstage and in the crowd, fostering an immense shared enjoyment between the band and the fans. Both acts were so deeply committed to intensity, and though the two were an unlikely couple, neither failed to impress on stage.
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