The first time I saw Titus Andronicus was at Pitchfork’s music festival in 2008, and they opened with a Pulp cover of "Common People." It was an understandably shy move for a band virtually unknown at the time to ease into one of their largest audiences with a track that would likely be well received (Jarvis Cocker was scheduled to play the same stage later that night.) After that set, one that was comprised of a three-guitarists lineup and some forgivable sloppiness, it was at least clear that, in regards to the crowd, Titus Andronicus had nothing to be timid about.
Nine months into a year of substantial touring and a balls-to-the-wall awesome sophomore LP, the group’s road show is still playing unbelievably to their strengths. Their friday night show at the Triple Rock Social Club once again has shown how rewarding the group’s distilled lineup has been. That over-embellished guitar section is long gone. The recent addition of guitarist and violinist Amy Klein, however, substantially refines their previously overblown rhythm section. After all, songs like "A More Perfect Union" or "Theme From Cheers" are kind of contingent upon those rapid signature changes. Where the group had in the past sounded muddled at the shifts, they are now concise.
Frontman Patrick Stickles remained fairly quiet between tracks, a shocking thing considering his unbelievably encapsulating roars and snarls that stretched over virtually every song. Granted, a reserved frontman isn’t exactly a bad thing when you have a catalogue of tracks that are noticeably on the longer side.
It’s also worth mentioning that the aforementioned Pulp cover was an awesome rendition, and it’s something that the band seems to be quite good at. Their friday night show included an airtight cover of The Modern Lovers’ "Roadrunner." Members of Titus also joined equally impressive opening act Free Energy on stage for a jaunty rendition of Springsteen’s "I’m Going Down." In both instances it was ever apparent that the beauty in these covers were how well they played to each respective group’s style. Actually, it kind of surmises the skills of both bands. They know the cards they are playing with, and boy do they play the hell out of them.