Growing up in New York has made me associate summer with one thing: dozens upon dozens of free shows. After realizing I have yet to attend a single one, along with realizing I have not a single dollar in my wallet, I decided that the perfect way to cap off my summer was to spend an evening with Titus Andronicus and Cursive free of charge courtesy of the fine folks at Brooklyn’s House Of Vans.
After waiting in a line that stretched for blocks and dodging the mob that made a beeline for the free beer, I established myself in a nice safe spot on top of a skateboard drop-in. I say safe because once Titus Andronicus took to the stage, the quaint indoor skate-park-turned-venue became a madhouse, complete with mosh pits and stage divers. With seven-minute songs and an aggressive stage presence, Titus stole the show. The crowd not only demanded an encore but poured out of the front door as soon as it realized that the band would not be playing “one more song.” Someone decided it would be a good idea to tip a port-a-potty before they left, though…with a dude locked inside it. Ouch.
By the time Cursive took the stage, a good amount of people had left the venue, many heading to a second Titus Andronicus show in a different section of Brooklyn. However, the place was still pretty packed, and while Titus is definitely awesome, those who left missed out on a mean set from Tim Kasher and co. Opening with “Drunken Birds” from I Am Gemini, Kasher proved he’s still got it after 15-plus years of tearing it up. His vocals were just as sharp as ever, and the crowd loved every second of it.
Along with “Drunken Birds,” the band played a few other tracks from its newest record, including “The Sun And Moon” and “This House Alive.” Both tracks were played with such precision that if you closed your eyes, you’d think you were listening to I Am Gemini in the comfort of your own bedroom. The band didn’t forget its older fans though, who came in with unrealistic hopes of hearing The Ugly Organ front to back. While they may not have had their dreams fulfilled entirely, they did get to hear quite a few Cursive classics. Fans were treated to the intense “Big Bang,” the charmingly dissonant “Sierra” and old-school favorite “Art Is Hard.” There was also an extremely loud and passionate sing-along to the eerie yet beautiful “The Recluse,” which led the majority of those in attendance to jump around the floor and dance like they were 16 again. After the band played a brief encore, everyone chugged what was left of their beer or Vitamin Water and shuffled out of the venue with probably the same thought in their heads: New York has the best summer freebies.