Ok, this was a weird one for two main reasons. First off, this was the first show that attended alone in just about a year. Which, yeah, 'NBD' they say, but I am now used to company going to shows, so I felt obligated to be the cool guy outside for a bit and smoke cigarettes (a decision I now regret due to the current feeling of complete garbage). Second, this was the first time seeing a show at the renovated Roxy, now all gussied up and named 'Royale' - très chic! I had seen bands at the Roxy before several years ago, but the last time I went to Royale was a few months ago and it looked like a Lady Gaga music video. Exhibit A:
Yes, really. So when I walked in, I just sort-of expected there to be people in polar bear suits.
But I got over it pretty quickly and I digress. Philadelphia's Free Energy opened up this early show just before 7pm to a painfully empty room. This band has their song "Dream City" featured on the commercial for those flip cameras and have gotten pretty favorable reviews from the blogosphere, so I felt pretty bad that the guys didn't have a better turn out. They didn't seem to mind however, getting right into their throwback T-Rex/Thin Lizzyesque rock and roll. Phil Lynott would be proud, as tunes like "Bang Pop" and "Hope Child" got the limited audience rocking. Another rock godhead that should be proud is the Boss himself, as the band took on the immortal "I'm Goin' Down" as a way to whet fans' appetites for their forthcoming split with tourmates Titus Andronicus. Overcome with joy, I had to capture the moment:
(Please don't sue me, James Murphy or any of you wonderful people at DFA!)
After the set and another beer and getting over being alone, I went outside and who did I see but Patrick Stickles, screamer/songwriter for the headliners. Relishing the opportunity, as I usually do, I gave him the hand shake and 'Great job!' comment on their amazing new album The Monitor. He said it was great to hear from fans and he hoped I would enjoy the show. So I went inside to do exactly that.
Titus Andronicus knew exactly what the crowd, which had filled up the room at this point, had wanted. They blasted into "A More Perfect Union," the first song on said new album. The crowd cheered and threw their arms into the air, and during the song's Flogging Molly sounding coda, they moshed! Yes, it happened! I had forgot moshing even happened because most clubs don't allow it and often places have a big pole in the way (I'm looking at you, Paradise). Stickles then addressed that the next song was about "doing something that sounds great at the time, but regretting it soon after." He had even caught himself in a trap of sorts - "Spoiler alert: Every song we play is about doing something that sounds great at the time and immediately regretting it. Sorry." The song, "Theme From 'Cheers,'' is arguably the best on the album, and it sounded as though everyone else thinks so as well, as everyone around me joined in on belting all the words. A few songs later they even brought in the album's epic closer "The Battle of Hampton Roads," tearing through all 14 minutes of it (albeit no bagpipes - just keyboards). It wasn't all The Monitor, however, as songs from their DIY debut The Airing of Grievances like "My Time Outside The Womb" sounded great even next to the new tunes. It was as though lightning struck twice when guitarist/violinist Amy broke a string and needed to switch guitars , as Stickles broke out with an impromptu version of the Hank Williams classic, "Lost Highway."
The band saved the punky "Four Score And Seven" and "Titus Andronicus Forever" for last, causing the swanky ballroom to look like a Black Flag show. Security came over and tried to calm down those rabble rousers, but it's kinda tough with people of all ages screaming along to the words 'The enemy is everywhere!' Like, dude, literally - the 'enemy' was security! Anarchy!
I left after the band put their instruments down and the crowd still cheering. One can only assume they came out and played the one song everyone was waiting for - The Airing of Grievances' "Titus Andronicus," which includes the hand-clapping coda and the optimistic chant of 'Your life is over.' I saw a great show nonetheless, so I'm not complaining...and the reason I left was to go meet friends, so there! I do have friends, they just aren't dedicated concert-goers.