Monday, December 8, 2008

Live: Titus Andronicus VS. A7 Club Tribute (a.k.a. Radio Flyer's weekend in punk!)

This past weekend was probably the punk-heaviest of my life. Friday, I saw up-and-coming modern punks Titus Andronicus playing with Wye Oak and O'Death, and Saturday, I stopped by the A7 Club tribute show at Knitting Factory.

Who: Titus Andronicus
When: 12/5
Where: Bowery Ballroom

Who: 30+ bands (I only caught a few) paying tribute to legendary NYHC club A7
When: 12/6
Where: Knitting Factory (all three floors)

I don't go to punk shows often because I rarely find them interesting. I actually really love punk and hardcore, but not much has happened in the genre since the mid-80's. That's because the scene is often dominated by traditionalists who aspire to recreate the raw brilliance of that 1977 to mid-80's era. And there's nothing wrong with that, it's a great era. It's just that nostalgia-driven music can't surpass the original, so I don't feel pulled to take an active interest when I can just go home and put some Minor Threat on the stereo. But that's just me.

And being me, I'm pretty excited about Titus Andronicus. Why? Because they are among a small group of bands who, seemingly independently, are dragging punk into the 21st century. The band is not afraid to mix their hardcore with folk and country twangs and ever-so-faint nods to indie pop (in songwriting) and shoegaze (in guitar technique). On a personal level, it's not my favorite music but it's certainly very interesting. For the first time since the early 90's, someone is making punk fresh.

Titus put on a great live show, and the energy is definitely that of a punk band. You know how you see all those pictures of old-school bands where someone with an electric guitar is jumping a good four feet above the stage? Well, I had never seen in it real life until Friday, and that may have been the highlight of the whole show for me. (Is that superficial? Maybe.)

Sadly, the set was interrupted by a handful of rude and belligerent audience members who ruined a big part of the show for those of us unluckily located in the midst of their fighting. But Titus isn't to blame just because some losers happen to like their music - their performance was outstanding and I was relieved when their arrogant, rock-star attitudes translated into not apathy but badassery on stage. What fun!

Titus Andronicus (photo by Maryanne Ventrice) Urban Waste
Titus Andronicus
(Photo by Maryanne Ventrice, not taken at the Bowery show)
Urban Waste
(A classic A7 band)

The next day brought me to the A7 tribute show, which, to be honest, I only attended because I was helping a friend out with some gear. In terms of punk, it couldn't have been more different. A7 was one of the most important clubs in the early 80's NYC hardcore scene, and Saturday's shows featured bands who had played there along with a few more recent followers. So where Titus Andronicus is unabashedly modernist, the A7 bands are unabashedly traditionalist. One guitar player summed it up: "This is how it was done twenty-five years ago, and this is how it should be fucking done now!"

I'm not going to review the show because I'm not really qualified to do so. I definitely enjoyed it though, and I will say, the crowd was a hundred times nicer than the previous night's. There's something to be said for punk traditionalists - for one thing, they know how to start a mosh pit without injuring people (which was how the problem in audience at Titus Andronicus began). For another thing, they know how to have fun and make great music, even if it's nothing new. I don't share their opinion that music should be frozen in time circa 1983, but it's kind of nice to know that someone will be keeping the tradition alive.

1 comment:

Maryanne67 said...

I really enjoyed your review :)