08/08 Titus Andronicus/Midgetmen

I went to The Mohawk Friday night in anticipation of a solid rock show, and for the most part, I got what I asked for that evening. Now, did it all go off successfully, or was I dully rocked to sleep? I’m not sure still. Let me explain. (Show review and pictures after the jump).

Titus Andronicus took to the stage first, which was surprising given their recent accolades with modern indie media, but they took the stage with a vengeance. The six piece band jumped force with the power of a hurricane, thrashing about upon the stage like a young Trail of the Dead. In all honesty, their enthusiasm caught me a bit off guard, pleasantly. While I enjoyed the band’s ferocity, their bass player seemed utterly bored, and only involved himself in the live show when he climbed on top of his amp during the last song.

Of course, the sound wasn’t working properly, which actually benefited the band for you could barely decipher the lyrics, which on record resemble that of Conor Oberst. At the same time, you had to be acquainted with the band in order to figure out what was being said.

That wasn’t the only downside to the sound. At times, Titus employs three guitar players and a bass; I think once they had four guitar parts. Why I understand the usage of such techniques in the studio, it just doesn’t translate live, and the sound becomes jumbled. In fact, it became so muddled at points that I felt as if I were watching Dropkick Murphies, a sound I doubt they wanted to get across.

All in all, I enjoyed their presence, and their youthful fervor translated to a small stage setting, as they played indoors. However, I think that on a larger stage, they would get lost in the walls of noise they created. We’ll just have to wait and see, but beware the hype!

The Midgetmen took to the stage just before midnight, and needless to say, this well-traveled band didn’t have quite the same punch as the band before them. That isn’t entirely a bad thing. Having been together for quite some time, this Austin band was able to spend more of their time focusing on the sounds they created. It did them justice as they came off sounding a lot cleaner.

I particularly appreciated their usage of switching vocalists, and using gang vocals. It creates an entirely different set for such a band, which helps keep their shows interesting for their audience; which is contrary to the constant yelping that came from Titus Andronicus.

If you were searching for a flaw in The Midgetmen, aside from the fact that they are men, not midgets, is that they don’t really shed their influences in the sound they created. It doesn’t come off as super-original, but then again, I don’t think that is the point. They are an older band with dedicated fans, many of who showed up to see them play, so they are doing something right.

So, as you can see…both bands had high and low points, neither of which swayed me in either way in regards to my feelings for the show as a whole. I suppose that at this point I can admit that I quite enjoyed the show, now that I am back into the rock, but not enough to remember it months from now; that is what I expected from the recent fame of Titus Andronicus. Twas not so, but a good night indeed. Thanks to Marc for putting us on the list.

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