William Shakespeare made mistakes. One of them was Titus Andronicus, a hyper-violent revenge tragedy that for centuries has been considered one of the Bard’s worst affronts on the theater. The play is so supremely damaged — and humorously gross — that its cultural relevance is relegated to the back of most Shakespeare anthologies if it appears at all.
However, Titus Andronicus has been reborn far from the Globe Theater, specifically in Glen Rock, N.J. The new incarnation might prove more viable than the old. Using Shakespeare’s hackneyed themes — violence, impertinence and a little Rock & Roll — the band Titus Andronicus has created a newer (and louder) interpretation of a classic gone awry.
The band’s first effort, The Airing of Grievances, a title lifted delicately from the Seinfeld-derived, faux holiday of “Festivus” (the album even has a track dedicated to the episode) could have pigeonholed Titus Andronicus as a gaggle of pop-culture fluent Indie knockoffs that considered obscure television references —and side-swept bangs — as the new cultural currency.
Like many Emo bands, they might not consider talent as a prerequisite for success, choosing instead to irritate the masses with non-sequitur songs about condiments and girls with hot moms.
But, no. Titus Andronicus is a catalyst trying to destroy music. While the band is definitely not for the faint of eardrum, there is a surprising amount of depth and devotion to their sound. The Airing of Grievances isn’t a crying-into-my-PBR kind of album, but rather it comes from somewhere more genuine. It’s often funny (really, a song about Festivus has to be amusing) and heartfelt, raw and contemplative. It makes us feel bad about inserting a quintessential sad Emo bastard joke (read: Dashboard Confessional).
Shakespeare just might be proud of these guys.
(Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.)