Titus Andronicus, A Giant Dog | The Pinhook | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week
This is a past event.

Titus Andronicus, A Giant Dog 

When: Tue., Sept. 13, 9 p.m. 2016
Price: $15



Back in 2014, the rock critic Steven Hyden wrote a piece for the now-defunct sports-and-culture site Grantland, titled "The American Band Championship Belt." The idea, he wrote, was to figure out the top band for a particular era using an indistinct set of criteria that included popular appeal, critical acclaim, and lasting impact on the culture. Deerhunter, Hyden determined, wore the crown from 2008 to 2010. One of the main challengers to the throne was the New Jersey indie-punk act Titus Andronicus.

"Of all the bands that have claimed to be influenced by Bruce Springsteen in the past ten years," Hyden wrote, "Monitor-era Titus Andronicus was the best at communicating potentially embarrassing (or just embarrassing-embarrassing) thoughts and emotions in a similarly galvanizing fashion."

Were Hyden to update his list, he'd have to give Titus Andronicus serious consideration as the belt's current owner.

Last July, Merge issued The Most Lamentable Tragedy, a critically acclaimed, semi-autobiograpical punk rock opera in five acts that spans twenty-nine tracks and ninety-three minutes. Its protagonist, scarred by abuse, drugs, and mental illness, is thrown into a violent existential crisis after he meets his doppelgänger. Frontman Patrick Stickles confirms that the record is a work of fiction, but it's hard not to hear his struggle with manic depression in it. The record doubled down on the band's many strengths: multi-movement songs, thrashing shout-alongs, brazen, arena-size guitar riffs, therapist-couch honesty. Tragedy is so bold that 2010's The Monitor—a sprawling concept album shot through with Civil War imagery—is now the band's second-most challenging and grandiose LP.

Nearly a year to the day after Tragedy's release, Titus Andronicus dropped Stadium Rock, a selection of live recordings from the band's five consecutive sold-out release shows at New York City's DIY haven Shea Stadium. If Tragedy found Titus Andronicus at its most ambitious and creative, then Stadium Rock reaffirmed the band's mythical, had-to-be-there live presence. Shorter and punchier, Stadium Rock shows the band stripping away all the studio wizardry of Tragedy until only the pure, primal passion remains.

"To those with a soft spot for rock 'n' roll ideology—be it arena or indie—Titus Andronicus are likely the keepers of the flame," SPIN's Kyle McGovern wrote last year in naming Titus Andronicus the eighth-best active rock band, seven spots behind Deerhunter, the magazine's number one pick. Indeed, Titus Andronicus's high-minded lit-punk merits such overstuffed phrasing. It's only fitting for, quite possibly, America's greatest operating rock 'n' roll band. A Giant Dog opens. —Patrick Wall

9 p.m., $15, www.thepinhook.com

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