Titus Andronicus w/ Lost Boy, The Olympics
Gabe’s – September 21 at 10 p.m. ($10-20)
This Saturday, indie punk rock veterans Titus Andronicus are set to return to Iowa City for a show at Gabe’s along with Lost Boy and The Olympics. Known for their stirring live shows including extended renditions of already lengthy rock ‘n roll songs, the show kicks off at 10 p.m. and promises to go well into the night.
Just under a year ago, New Jersey punk rock outfit Titus Andronicus released their third album, Local Business, to mixed reception. On the one hand, most critics and fans alike agreed that crafting a successful follow-up to the band’s outstanding concept album The Monitor, which was released two years prior to nearly universal praise, would be a steep task. After all, exactly how does one follow an album full of eight-minute punk rock ballads, a handful of indie rock royalty guest stars and lofty, yet successful Civil War themes scattered throughout sixty glorious minutes of rock ‘n roll delight?
Luckily, Titus Andronicus seemed uninterested in recreating their breakout hit, trading eccentric urgency and hosts of guest stars for a collection of homegrown, stripped back and downright personal songs that stack up quite well against their predecessors. Standout track “In A Big City” premiered on the band’s blog a month before the full release and instantly set the tone for the group’s ongoing progression. “I grew up on one side of the river / I was a disturbed dangerous drifter / Moved over to the other side of the river / Now I’m a drop in a deluge of hipsters” sings a self-aware Stickles amidst several layered guitars and a driving rhythm section. And though TA may now find themselves among a new setting within the musical landscape known as “hipster territory” the group refuses to lock themselves into the crutch provided by such lazy journalistic genre-labeling, as they continue to prove they are more than part of a passing fad by continually upping the ante when it comes to smart, passionate punk rock.
Always ones to wear their influences proudly upon their collective sleeve, Titus Andronicus recreates everything there is to love about the swagger-filled seventies rock, rounded out by all the frantic energy of the punk generation from which they spawned: joyous sing-along choruses, angst-driven lyrics, and a captivating frontman in Patrick Stickles lead what is seemingly always a memorable performance. And now with three successful LPs and a strongly devoted fan base at their backs, Titus Andronicus has emerged as a premier punk rock outfit, both on record and on stage. This Saturday sees the group return to Iowa City amidst their ongoing “Manifest Destiny” tour, and is a show that you will simply not want to miss. Even if sweat-filled mosh pits aren’t quite your thing, there is no shame in rocking in solitary toward the back with a fist in the air.