Thursday, April 08, 2010

Titus Andronicus @ the Bottom Lounge - 4/7/10

Skipped the first opener, and stood around for the Saps, a local Chicago band that reminded me a fair amount of Team Band. I love Team Band, but they're kind of a hard band to emulate without making it really obvious. Maybe it's all coincidence and they there's no influence there, but it sure sounded like it to me.

TA took the stage around 10:45 or so, and played for a good 1:20, with no encores. But man, it was a really rollicking set. There's so much energy and passion in Patrick Stickles' screaming voice that it's hard not to get sucked in. And especially with the new material, with their slow, quiet intros that descend into a maelstrom of noise, they just have a way of sucking you in until you can't help but give in to noise. I'm not usually one for a lot of audience participation, but listen to the first song linked below and, well, if you see them live, try not to sing along with the Ooo Ooo - Na Na Na part at the 2:44 mark (note, this video is cut to only half the song - they cut out a great second half for the radio edit).

For as much energy as they put into their set, I'm a little surprised they played as long as they did. I was also curious to see how they would handle the new material. For those of you unfamiliar, 'The Monitor' is a sort of concept album about a kid who leaves New Jersey for Boston, and ends up returning to New Jersey after not quite finding what he was looking for. The kicker is that it's told through Civil War imagery. It's really quite impressive, but the album itself is a 10 song, 67 minute drama with each song segueing into the next. If you didn't know where the track breaks were, you could probably figure them out, but it would be tough, and you'd probably get some wrong. So the question was whether they could play some of those songs as stand alones, or whether they'd play the album from beginning to end. The played them as stand alones, out of order, mixing in songs from the first album, and it played great in my opinion. The incomplete and out of order setlist (actually, I think this is the right order, since I stole it from this guy - in my own defense, I had all the songs right):
  • A More Perfect Union (opened with this)
  • Joset of Nazareth Blues
  • A Pot in Which to Piss
  • Upon Viewing Breughle's 'Landscape with the Fall of Icarus'
  • Richard II
  • Fear and Loathing in Mawhaw, NJ
  • No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future
  • Titus Andronicus
  • My Time Outside the Womb
  • The Battle of Hampton Roads
  • Titus Andronicus Forever
  • Four Score and Seven
The opener and closer are right, and the middle of that setlist is a rough estimate of where songs fit in. So many of the songs on the new album are of this epic length and structure that they could easily be closers, but Four Score and Seven did the trick nicely (Battle of Hampton Roads, all 14 minutes of it, closes the album).

As for the concert experience, I was just outside the mosh pit, which was a perfect place to stand. I'm well past moshing age, and I was never much of a mosher to begin with. Still, I was close enough to feel like a part of the action. I don't love the Bottom Lounge, but it's growing on me a bit. I still wish they would publish the door time AND the show time so that I'm not tricked into getting there an hour early, but I've learned to work around that. Hopefully these guys get a good slot at Pitchfork, where there's a good crowd that can really get into the atmosphere of the music. Pics and another couple vids below.

Titus Andronicus (song)

Four Score and Seven

Monday, April 05, 2010

Opening Day

Finally, one of the greatest days of the year, and at least for today, one of the nicest days we've had in Chicago for a while. Opening day for the Sox and Indians should go off without a hitch.

But I'm not here to talk about the Sox. I said most of what I had to say about the Angels a couple months ago, and for what it's worth, I don't think any of my analysis has changed very much. I still really like their offense. They've got power potential at pretty much every spot in the order outside of the lead-off spot (and the catcher's spot when Mathis plays). The outfield is old, and that's always a concern, since none of us can tell when any of those guys are going to go into a serious decline phase. They lose Figgins' OBP, but they hopefully make up for that a bit in Brandon Wood's power. I just hope the organization is patient with him, and that they leave him in the lineup to take his lumps so long as he is providing good defense at third base.

The starting pitching staff is solid 1-5, but there's not a ton of depth behind them. Of course, there's almost no team in baseball that has a great deal of depth beyond their starting four, let alone five. In a way, it almost makes the Angels more vulnerable to injury. Most teams are already throwing out junk for a fifth starter. If the Angels lose their fifth starter, they lose a legit starter, as opposed to a team that just replaces junk with junk. Still, I'd rather be in the Angels' position.

The bullpen looks to be deep, but not lights out dominant at any role. Fuentes will still drive us crazy. Shields will still have his moments where he can't seem to find the strike zone. Who knows what Rodney is going to bring. But I'm looking forward to another year of (hopefully) growth from Jepsen and Bulger. And we'll just have to wait and see if Stokes can be any type of replacement for Darren Oliver, even though the decision to not offer arbitration to Oliver still baffles me.

The Rangers and Mariners are improved, and every season is, to some extent, a crapshoot, but I just don't see the rush to crown either of those franchises the best in the west this year. I think a lot of the media driven hype around those clubs is a desire to see something different. On paper, the Angels are still the best team in the AL West. You never know what's going to happen when it comes to injuries, and the Angels are just as vulnerable to those as anyone, but all things being equal, the Angels will win the AL West for the fourth straight time this year.

Time to play ball.