Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
Coming out of a weekend is when we can hear all of the more spectacular aspects about Titus Andronicus, the New Jersey band that allows the golden, golden brown and brown liquids to influence the hell of out them. We can commiserate with the head-pounding and the racketeering that goes on when the good sense that was on its best behavior all week is neglected. It's only fair to say that the good sense and sanity, the common niceties and behavior approved for mixed company don't always have to be presentable. They can be ill-mannered and then, that's where we get our own personal mythology, the folklore that will get passed on generation from generation.
Exiting out of a two-day romp through lax responsibilities, late nights that in all likelihood led to debauchery or dreams of debauchery (or at the very least defacing of property or drunken stupors) and paying for it the next morning or mornings is at the core of what makes the group tick, or at least excites them into detailing matters. A story gets to the point where it's worth retelling over and again when there's some piece of it that borders on idiocy, nefariousness or poor judgment. We get to be where we are in life by making the mistakes we've made under the influence of alcohol, pounding ourselves into submission through a bender or three.
These are the professors - these stints of overindulgence - that teach us that maybe bars are not the best places to find the person you're going to marry, that too much of a good thing isn't just a cliché for wieners to throw around as if they know something, that nothing good usually does happen after midnight and that sometimes it's funny how little provocation it takes to decide it would be a hoot to throw a brick threw someone's rearview window. We meet our enemies and our friends at the end of these nights and we rough them up for good or bad. The people we love get tested and we give ourselves a trying time.
Titus Andronicus, named for the William Shakespeare tragedy that was known for its excessive gore and violence as a Roman general by that name seeks revenge on everyone he knows, gives us a good mind to either pop tops or twist them just to stay even with them so we can continue following along with the curvy, down on the floor romancing of sloppiness - unforgettable sloppiness like the stuff that The Replacements brought to the stage on many nights, the sloppiness of legend that feels like spittle on the sides of cheeks and glass in your forehead. They flatter us with brilliance in shaggy aloofness, trickling out Pavement-like unhingings and adding onto the sundae the kinds of poetry that come to the intelligent after three bottles of wine or whatever's handy. There's no pretension and no posturing, just the kind of townie special, the unglamorous things that people do when they're not completely thinking straight.
There - in that mind - we're given the glimpse into bare bones and raw skin, into the unconscious stories that only need a little incentive to make their appearance. The band here plays a cover by North Carolina band the Spider Bags and it could be their anthem - their lost gem. It covers, more than anything else, the joy that waking up drunk brings them in correlation with the grief and pain in the ass-ed-ness that someone else brings them. There is no curfew on hard living in their poorly painted town and it goes down as evidence that there's a void that they know how to fill appropriately. They take true substances for the real shadows that they find invading themselves regularly, with lead singer Patrick Stickles offering himself up as a guy lying down on the grill, walking across the coals and wailing through all of the things he's feeling, hanging on by a thin thread, medicating the best way he knows.