Titus Andronicus was perceived to be Shakespeare’s attempt to mimic the style of his contemporaries, but the New Jersey punk band of the same name proved at its packed Webster Hall show that it’s truly peerless. As the last show of the tour, Titus Andronicus made sure to leave every ounce of musical energy they had left on the stage.
From the get-go, the band delivered a powerful blast of raw, melodic distortion. Opening with “Ecce Homo” and “Hot Deuce On A Silver Platter,” both off the latest record, Local Business, the predicted “mush-pit” was born out of the tightly packed crowd. The band fed the crowd its musical ingenuity, playing dusty gems like the eponymous “Titus Andronicus” and “To Old Friends And New” and a riotous cover of The Contours’ infamous “Do You Love Me” alongside several of the new album tracks.
While most concerts focus primarily on the band as a method of keeping the show entertaining, for Titus Andronicus, the crowd plays an integral role. From the physically exhausting mush-pitting, to getting thrown on stage from a crowd surf only to stage dive onto a sea of audience members, fans of Titus Andronicus kept the energy level up, and several people off their feet, as seen during “A More Perfect Union” when two fans attempted a double stage dive. It wasn’t always smooth or gentle—a few people ended up on the floor at different points—but the sense of community never wavered.
That communal spirit was no more evident than during the breather song “To Old Friends And New.” Linked arm and shoulder, rows of unacquainted fans swayed limply in the dimly lit venue, smiling to one another at the otherworldly experience each helped produce that night.
After saturating the air with pure feedback and noise at the end of “The Battle Of Hampton Roads,” including vocalist Patrick Stickles lugging his guitar amp to the stage’s edge for all the crowd to hear and the drummer bashing hard enough for the cymbals to fly off, the band disappeared off the stage. Although it’s common for a band to automatically reappear moments later for an encore, Titus Andronicus doesn’t fit the typical concert mold. More often than not, the band will play straight through, leaving without an encore. However, since it was the last show of the tour, the fans were surprisingly rewarded for their blind faith and hopeful lung-spitting pleading with the encouraging sign of a lone shoe sticking out of the doorway.
Stickles mumbled to the crowd, “One more I guess. We don’t usually do this, but if you insist.” As the night’s closing number, band jammed to its cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar.” The song gave one fan the guts to surf onstage to dance with Stickles for an unusual length before jumping back into the crowd. Finishing once again with inhuman amounts of raw noise, the band yanked the plugs from their amps and dropped their instruments, exhausted. Prior to leaving before the encore, Stickles mumbled to the crowd, “Good night, and good luck.” With an encore like that from Titus Andronicus, the crowd must have had some damn good luck.