Titus Andronicus, Country Westerns, Simon Joyner and the Echoes tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 6:31 am March 28, 2023
Titus Andronicus at SXSW 2009. The band plays at The Slowdown tonight.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The first time I saw Titus Andronicus live was at Habana Calle Annex 6 at the first South by Southwest Festival I ever attended way back in 2009. Of that performance, I said: “I liked their most recent album (The Airing of Grievances) enough to place it on my 2008 top-10 list — it’s rowdy and rough and young, with unbridled energy — and so was the band, bashing away on stage, the frontman sporting the new-hipster unibomber beardo look. It was loud, but forced — they never got into an angry groove or maybe it was just too early for that sort of thing.” It was a day show.

Fourteen years later, Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles still has that new-hipster unibomber beard look, but it ain’t so new anymore. I’ve seen Titus many times since that first gig, and have another chance tonight at The Slowdown. 

The band’s latest, The Will to Live, was release last year on Merge Records. It’s a departure from the Titus I remember all those years ago. On this new record, the band is “drawing on maximalist rock epics, from Who’s Next to Hysteria.” Big riffs and lots of guitar solos, it sounds like power pop from the Titan label, sort of. Actually, it reminds me of Butch Walker and The Let’s-Go-Out-Tonites, an album that came out two years before Titus Andronicus’ debut album.

At any rate, it’s change from massive, punk anthems like “Four Score and Seven” or “A More Perfect Union” from the band’s seminal 2010 album, The Monitor, which was remastered and rereleased in 2021. The band’s had a lot of personnel changes since 2008, but their latest line-up with Stickles, Liam Betson on guitar, R.J. Gordon on bass, and Chris Wilson on drums, has been the longest-running consistent lineup in their history. According to the one-sheet, The Will to Live was created in large part as an attempt to process the untimely 2021 death of Matt “Money” Miller, the band’s founding keyboardist and Stickles’ closest cousin. That’s a lot to process. Expect an epic performance because Stickles and Co. leave everything on stage every night. 

Opening band Country Westerns combines punk and classic rock and has the audacity to say their 2020 debut made Pitchfork’s list of the Top 35 rock albums of that year. But get this, the band includes Nashville underground legend Brian Kotzur. Prior to Country Westerns, Kotzur drummed for Silver Jews and Crooked Fingers and has played in bands with Duane Denison of The Jesus Lizard, and country legends Bobby Bare Jr. and Charlie Louvin. Soak it in.

You get both bands for a mere $20. Show starts at 8 p.m., in the front room. 

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Also tonight, it’s the tour kick-off for Simon Joyner and the Echoes at Grapefruit Records, 1125 Jackson St. The band released a new CD last month that features full-band reinterpretations of songs from across Simon’s catalog, including a cover of Loudon Wainwright III’s “Hospital Lady.” The Echoes are Mychal Marasco, drums; Sean Pratt on guitar, bass and keys; and Megan Siebe on strings, keys and vocals. Starts at 8 p.m., $10 suggested donation. Let’s send them off in style.

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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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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