New Jerseyans Titus Andronicus and Ducktails played a free show at Pier 84 for the Hudson River Park’s RiverRock Series last night, showing NYC some Garden State love. Although the skies loomed ominously with gray clouds and on-and-off rain spits, Pier 84 promised to deliver, rain-or-shine. The RiverRocks chairman, hoping to hype the crowd up, acknowledged the temporary influx of the Jersey population and followed by introducing Ducktails, the psych-pop solo project of Real Estate’s frontman Matthew Mondanile. Opening with “Ivy Covered House,” off the band’s most recent LP Flower Lane, Mondaile crooned to the audience. “Well hello, it’s me again/I’m at your door come let me in”; the soft, mellow lyrics perfectly blended with the ambience of cool breezes against the pitter-patter of rain drops.
For those at the show who got the chance to see Ducktails’ recent performance at the MoMA, the songs most likely sounded familiar. The band repeated the majority of the set list from three weeks ago, but nonetheless the songs were warmly welcomed. The unexplainably pleasing blend of fluid guitar melodies, raunchy, distortion guitar outros and instrumental breaks, and the inclusion of some of the band’s new songs (one of which is experimental, jazz-influenced) went over well with the crowd, happily under the band’s auditory spell.
By the time Titus Andronicus took the stage, the rain came to a halt as night overtook the gray shade covering the sky. Frontman Patrick Stickles immediately began his version of crowd interaction: existential and faux-philosophical ranting. Stickles, however, kept the opening rant short, however, not wanting to scare off the entire crowd, and dove into the setlist with “Fear And Loathing In Mahwah, NJ.” The intro was merely foreplay with the audience; any watchful eye could sense the anticipation among crowd members to unleash a hefty dose of kinetic energy onto their fellow moshers willing to enter the pit. By the time Stickles belted the song’s peak lyrics, “But should shit hit the fan,” several show-goers had already begun to thrash amongst themselves. From then on out, the pit remained a staple for almost every song.
Giving the moshers a chance to breathe, Stickles stopped to dedicate a section of the setlist to his father, who was turning “65 years young.” Whether it be through self-deprecating rants on life, sarcastic commentary on running for mayor of the new “Long Island City” (which segued surprisingly well into “Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape With The Flood Of Detritus”), or ragging on long-time band member Liam Bettson for leaving Titus to move to Canada with his wife and solo project, the band embraces a nihilistic mindset. Similarly, the crowd reflects this through their trash-talk banter and intense love for the mosh pit. Young or old, male or female, scrawny or buff, no matter what you were, you either were in the pit at some point during the show or lusted to be there. With songs such as “Ecce Homo” and “Still Life With Hot Deuce And Silver Platter” blending in with other distortion-heavy songs, the set eventually became background noise fueling the crowd members desire to end up drenched with sweat after suffering through several more of Stickles’ rants.
In honor of Liam leaving the band, Titus gave their friend a celebrated goodbye, covering “Lie” off his solo record, and afterwards Ben Kweller’s “Wasted And Ready.” The band made sure Liam felt appreciated, perhaps even parental-embarrassment-reminiscent, before heading into the final song of the night. In conjunction with the nautical theme of the venue, the band appropriately closed with “The Battle Of Hampton Roads.” The band ended on an instrumental jam, complete with spacey, discordant sounds, before climbing aboard a pirate-esque ship back home.