It was the furthest thing on my mind as I sat in a darkened room in my guest flat in the city of Dhaka, Bangladesh. I was worlds away from my home, yet due to incredible technology, I received a Facebook message from an old college friend. David Robbins, now currently of the band Titus Andronicus, asked me if I heard Titus’ recently released 2nd LP The Monitor. Due to lack of infrastructure, the country of Bangladesh does not have reliable Internet access, so I had to wait until I made it back to the States to hear it. However, I started to talk to my old friend about his experiences of being in a skyrocketing band in the independent music scene and what touring life was really like.
Even though I wasn’t even able to listen to the 30-second iTunes sample of Titus Andronicus’ new album, I did check out their Myspace page with their tour dates listed. To my amazement, they were slotted to play a show at Appalachian Brewing Company’s Abbey Bar on Cameron St. in Harrisburg the day after I was scheduled to get back into town–April 23rd–from my trip in Southern Asia. It all seemed too good to be true. I would get to see my old college friend, Dave, doing what he loves and also see another old college friend who anchors the drums in Titus, Eric Harm.
At one point, Dave, Eric, and I were all friends at Bloomsburg University just going through the college life. A couple years later, and they’re sweeping critics off their feet, playing festivals like SXSW, along with the highly coveted Pitchfork festival in Chicago. They are living a dream they used to aspire to when we would sit around a lunch table in between classes.
We sat out on ABC’s upstairs deck overlooking Harrisburg’s skyline, and I welcomed and introduced Titus Andronicus to my home. Seeing as how I had only been in the United States for less than 24 hours at that point, after being away for two months, it felt good to gaze onto the buildings of Harrisburg again. Titus Andronicus went underway after their opening act, Spider Bags, and proceeded into the uprising roar of their first single from The Monitor, “A More Perfect Union.” The band intermingled songs from that album and their previous The Airing of Greivances all while maintaining a constant flow of concept, something that is delivered all throughout their current LP.
It was amazing to watch my friends Eric Harm and David Robbins on stage throughout each song, doing what they love, and getting the recognition they deserve for it; especially after years of constantly talking the independent music scene with them. They are loved by every established music blog and magazine out there, giving rise to their stardom with each tour date.
It was a surprise to me when their first album, The Airing of Grievances got picked up after a phenomenal review from Pitchfork media. However, so many bands come and go after stellar one-hit-wonder debut albums and tend to teeter off into the horizon, never to be heard from again. But with The Monitor giving way to similar acclaim and praise, Titus is now put into a more serious discussion about the vitality and seriousness of this band’s potential. The rest of the music media machine is truly starting to pay attention to their every move and giving them new avenues to explore with such rapid recognition.
So was I also surprised when ABC’s Abbey Bar picked them up for a show? Honestly, yes. I didn’t think the Abbey had the credentials to bring such a band to the area, especially since it was only a few years ago that I played on that very stage during one of their open mic nights. I felt that Titus Andronicus deserved to play venues in New York City or Philadelphia and that Harrisburg, my own hometown, was too small of a venue for them to explore and play. Then again, The Abbey was able to recently boast the likes of The Hold Steady.
All of this brings me to an interesting conclusion. My hopes in Harrisburg are evolving as some of the premiere bands in the independent music scene make their way through our venues. A couple months ago Messiah College hosted Iron and Wine (not to mention White Rabbits), while The Abbey had Titus and The Hold Steady. Then there’s The Morning Benders and Grizzly Bear stopping by Dickinson College. With all of these amazing bands making their way through Central Pennsylvania it’s quite possible that my trips down to Philadelphia’s venues will decrease, which is much easier on my part. But if this is a growing trend in the area then I’m certainly all for it.