Wednesday, October 18
Better than: Reading a good book and being in bed by 10.
As you’re surely by now aware, this year’s CMJ Music Marathon has some thousand-plus bands, not from all over the country but all over the world—everyone from the Hendrix of sludge rock (J Mascis, duh) to small, wheelchaired rapper from Denver who you’ll surely be hearing more about. Yesterday, we trimmed the fat and picked 21 of the acts we were most excited to potentially see, a list featuring mostly the young and the able-bodied, but a diverse group none the less. So with which band did I choose to begin my week of more shows than sleep and filing copy as the sun comes up? Titus Andronicus, of course.
I’ve seen Titus more than any other act in the past two years, but this will probably end up being the best decision I make all week. Headlining the Stereogum/Popgun Showcase—”the gum and the gun,” Titus frontman Patrick Stickles would later deadpan—and competing with some 999-plus other bands, the group nestled into Williamsburg’s Glasslands Gallery—a venue much cozier than Terminal 5, Maxwell’s, the Music Hall of Williamsburg, and the South Street Seaport, all of which they’ve played at some point this year.
My worst decision, at least of the day: bringing along a notebook, as if midway through the second song I wouldn’t be pushing towards the front of the crowd, pumping my fist to Stickles’s lyrics, pounding it to Eric Harm’s drumming, and&151;in a move so awkward I’m not exactly sure how to best describe it&151;jabbing it around to Amy Klein’s rhythm guitar, as if I were working on some sort of personal, invisible action painting. Notebook below the belt for this one, which I hope didn’t catch any of my fellow moshers by surprise. Either way, those moshers (we moshers?) were a relentless bunch, quickly and repeatedly knocking over the barricade that separated the photographers and the VIPs.
For their part, Titus played an incredibly tight set, mixing new tracks with material dating back to 2008, three years ago by the calendar but, as Stickles noted, much longer in indie rock time. They played for nearly 90 minutes—that was pretty long, too, especially in CMJ time, where you’re often lucky to catch a band for a third of that. The band’s relentless touring has taught it how to pace a set, letting the momentum climax with refrains like the repeated “You will always be a loser” that ends “No Future Pt. 3: Escape from No Future,” then following with breath-catchers like “To Old Friends and New.” The only thing missing was “Theme from ‘Cheers’,” but if you left Glasslands complaining about this omission, then I hope you get sentenced to a lifetime of standing in empty basements drinking half-off Landsharks and tweeting about some dude with a Skrillex haircut playing sound effects on his laptop.
Critical bias: A little bit delirious as I turn in this copy (it’s now 4:48 A.M.). Expect more of that this week.
Overheard: When a woman suggested that I undo a couple of the buttons on my shirt, telling me that she also had to work earlier, I couldn’t help but reply that I was actually at work at the moment. CMJ, everybody.
Random notebook dump: Again, no notebook dumps, random or otherwise.