Skip to content

Titus Andronicus, Spider Bags and Baked @ The First Unitarian Church.

September 14, 2015

TA15Text by Brendan Menapace. Images by Brendan Menapace and Michele Straka.

The weather might be cooling off a little outside but the basement of First Unitarian Church was scorching hot on Friday, packed to the brim for Titus Andronicus. And fans, soaked through their shirts (if they even kept them on) loved every second of it.

The night started with New York-based Baked, whose set was full of low-tuned and fuzzy drivers. The crowd started to grow and the room started to heat up a little.

North Carolina-based Spider Bags was a little late for their set. By the time their mini-van backed onto the sidewalk full of smokers, it was already about 15 minutes after their proposed set time. Patrick Stickles, Titus Andronicus’ enigmatic ring leader, made his way to help.

“Alright, alright, alright, it’s show time boys, Spider Bags are here,” he said, quickly taking the time to hug the Spider Bags guys before grabbing a box of stuff.

Spider Bags wasted no time, having already eaten up some of their allotted time, so they jumped straight into their blues-driven set. After finishing up, vocalist/guitarist Dan McGee looked out at the crowd, which was starting to pack in tight for the headliner, and said, “Get ready for Titus Andronicus, the greatest band in the world.”

With little fanfare, the six-man Titus Andronicus collective, lead by skeleton-skinny and heavy-bearded Stickles, took the stage in front of a sold-out Church crowd. Over a droning keyboard note, Stickles laid out his ground rules for the night.

“Not everyone is the same stature as you out there,” he said. “So your good time, and we really want you all to have a good time, might not be someone else’s good time.” It wouldn’t be the only time that rules were enforced that night.

They went into a very slow, ballad version of “Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape in the Flood of Detrius,” an otherwise up-tempo song from their third LP, Local Business. Stickles forgot the third verse, and had to be reminded from the rest of the band and audience.

“This is so live,” he assured us.

After the big, slow sing-along, which seemed like it would be more fitting for the end of a night of drinking away sorrows (maybe some people were), they jumped into a five-song package from their new album, which they had previously made an accompanying short film, called “The Magic Morning.”

The songs, “Lookalike,” “I Lost My Mind” [a Daniel Johnston Cover], “Mr. E. Mann,” “Fired Up and “Dimed Out.” The four make up an integral portion of the album’s narrative, telling the story of the protagonist’s struggle with mental illness and meeting his doppleganger. The crowd ate up every second of it.

“I sound like a broken record,” Stickles mumbled. “But the only record broken around here is best audience.”

After a few more songs, ranging their whole discography, a fan who had been pounding at the band’s monitors and swinging hands all night finally made his way onto the stage while they were playing, and Stickles didn’t like it.

“Hang on, stop stop stop,” he told the band. “This guy’s wasted. Get him the hell out of here. What’s wrong with that guy?” He guided him off stage, and then, going along with his own instructions for the night, made sure he was still safe. “Don’t hurt him or anything, but that guy should be at another party.” And the soaked crowd cheered.

By the time the air started getting humid from the sweat in the basement, the set was winding down, and Stickles announced they would play “their big hit,” which would be The Monitor’s opening track, “A More Perfect Union.”

Stickles, in the excitement, climbed up onto the platform next to the PA system. After he climbed down, one of the guys working the show came up to talk to him.

“Don’t go up there,” Stickles said. “It rocked, but it was not safe. I shouldn’t have gotten up there.”

The sweaty sing-alongs continued with a cover of Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” which was used in the context Springsteen originally intended, preluded by a brief speech from Stickles.

“A lot of speeches have been made in honor of this day,” he said. “Obviously America is an evil force around the globe. And yet, the principles on which this country is founded, the stuff in the Declaration of Independence, the shit it says is good.”

The band finally ended the night with “Titus Andronicus,” from their first album, The Airing of Grievances.

It’s clear the impact the music had one some of the fans, as shouts of “Thank you!” could be heard, and they weren’t coming from the stage. The kids made their way out of the pit, and they genuinely looked like they had just jumped in a pool. Their shirts were see-through, their jeans weighed down by sweat, their ears were no-doubt still ringing, and they could not have looked happier.

  1. Steven Parlante permalink
    September 15, 2015 1:59 pm

    Yo great right up and great pictures. I’m glad this was documented. I was the big fella in the front that asked about the magazine and I’m glad I did. I wouldn’t of found the pictures if I didn’t. Your a pro and you rocked. Keep doing your thing.

    • Steven Parlante permalink
      September 15, 2015 2:00 pm


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: