by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
I’m guessing by the size of the crowd that in the battle between Tilly and Titus, Tilly won. One of my music cohorts blamed indie slacker girlfriends for the poor turnout at Sokol Underground Friday night — maybe 75 tops for a band that packed The Waiting Room the last time they came through. His contention was that the girlfriends insisted on going to Tilly and the Wall at The Slowdown rather than Titus Andronicus at Sokol — girls’ music versus guys’ music — and that the girls will always win that argument. What a goddamn sexist thing to say, Chris! There were a few girls in the crowd at Titus, but something tells me there were a heckuva lot more at Tilly. Sometimes stereotypes are right on.
A little after 10 the warm-up band, Ceremony, took the stage and began playing their brand of post hardcore hardcore music to a tiny mob in front of the stage intent on moshing even if no one else wanted to. Three or four guys bounced around before eventually giving up and maintaining a metal-esque headbob routine. The S.F. four-piece isn’t a hardcore band, at least not anymore, not like they were before they signed with Matador Records. Still, their brutal post-punk sound crossed into hardcore territory during more intense moments or when frontman Ross Farrar introduced a song as “an old one.”
Their more recent streamlined sound is compared to early Wire, some have called it an homage. I wouldn’t go that far for, among other reasons, how much they lean on their guitars. On their new record, they remind me more of Bad Religion than any proto-post-harcore band. I would argue that they’re better live because they’re willing to blur the lines between the old and new as much as they want to, the yelling sounds more genuine.
We had a bet going on how long Titus would play. The consensus was an hour and 15 minutes. They went about a half our over that (with no encore). Patrick Stickles and company came on in a matter-of-fact fashion and barreled through a set that included the best off the new album (including “Tried to Quit Smoking” “My Eating Disorder” and “Titus Andronicus Vs. The Absurd Universe (3rd Round KO),” and a handful of the classics from the past couple of albums, including “A More Perfect Union,” “Titus Andronicus Forever” and “No Future Part Three: Escape from No Future” with the rousing chorus “You will always be a loser.” Big, anthemic fun without the nasty filler.
Before I left a member of one of the opening bands, called Gordon (the band’s name, not the guy’s name), gave me a copy of their six-song demo EP, I guess they were just handing them out. After listening to it this morning, I’m sorry I got to the show late.
Pretty fantastic stuff, especially opening track “No Masters, No War,” a soulless, dark little counter-argument to the neon-colored youth-freedom anthems that Tilly was singing just a few miles away to a much cuter audience, an audience who would blanch at lines like “And there were piss stains on the carpet / Where I laid my head and slept / There was a memory that I lost / Couldn’t remember when I woke up.” Ew, gross! There is something bracing and honest about a chorus that goes “It was love / It was death / There were no masters / There was no war.”
That goes right into a straight-up indie pop number called “I Don’t Mind” whose guitar lines and rhythms owe a lot to The Cure and Dinosaur Jr., with scratch vocals that are a direct nod to J. Mascis. Short and sweet.
Track three, “Down Goes Red” is a buzzsaw guitar and a droll mumble and a shout chorus of “Bang, Bang, Bang / Goes my gun.” Kind of an RFTC vibe, minus the candy coating. The last few songs are cleaned up garage songs that rock. The whole thing’s good and at times borders on brilliant.
On these recordings (according to the lyrics sheet included in the unlabeled heavy-black plastic CD case) Gordon is Austin Mayer, guitar/vox; Nick Sortino, drums/vox; Josh French, bass/vox, and Aaron Parker, guitar/vox. I don’t know anything about these guys, other than that French is in Snake Island, and that Mayer and Parker are in a project called Scratch Howl.
Don’t know where you can find a copy of these recordings, but they’re worth finding. The note scratched on the lyrics sheet next to the recording credits says “We suck, we know.” Do you?
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Looking at the sched, it’s going to be a quiet Friday night EXCEPT at The Barley Street Tavern, where Lincoln DIY punk legend Jim Jacobi and the Crap Detectors take the stage with The Shidiots and Never Trust the Living (Rob Rutar, Troy Garrison, Chad Roles and Dave Carnaby). Look, this is the only thing of substance going on tonight, you have no excuses. $5, 9 p.m.
Tomorrow night is the long-awaited (annual) return of Criteria. And when I say return, I mean with new material. Sayeth Criteria frontman Stephen Pedersen “Criteria is writing new material (for the first time in 6 years). Should be 3 or 4 new ones for the show. I am excited to perform them live.” Oh, and we’re excited to hear them, Steve. Opening is Landing on the Moon and Lincoln post-punk strategists Ideal Cleaners. $8, 9 p.m. Expect a crowd.
Just down the street, Lincoln anthem rockers Domestica take the stage with The Lupines (Frontman John Ziegler, Mike Friedman (ex-Movies, member of Simon Joyner and the Fallen Men), Mike Tulis (Monroes, Fullblown, Sons of ___, The Third Men), Javid Dabestani (Ghost Runners, among others)). $5, 9 p.m.
Have a good weekend…
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.