Beautiful Havoc at Sneaky Dee's
It’s a wonder that Sneaky Dee’s is still intact, if April 9th‘s Titus Andronicus performance is an indication of what concerts at the restaurant/bar/venue entail. The indie punk band from New Jersey headlined the sold-out show, with Sandman Viper Command and Hollerado impressing as the opening acts.
Sandman Viper Command kicked off the show at around 9:45pm. The band from Burlington is still fairly new to the scene and played to a half-empty room. After their set, one audience member told me: “Their bassist kept me comfortably on an undercurrent of a groove I’d not expected to pay the toll for. Two coins, two eyes, I’m ready to die. Awesome show!” Yes, those were his exact words.
He was there for Titus Andronicus, as were the majority of people I spoke to that night. But he was one of the few that showed early enough to witness Sandman Viper Command’s gratifying set. The band is playing a series of GTA dates next, which according to their drummer Matt Damon Meyer, is to gain more exposure outside of central Toronto.
Hollerado was next. The band had told me earlier that they weren’t doing a soundcheck; impressive, I thought, but will the spontaneity pay off? There were doubts at first, as the boys from Manotick had a brief bout with technical difficulties. However, as soon as they launched into their first song – and I say this with confidence – Hollerado was awesome. By this time there were many more people on the floor, and a good deal of them were there specifically for Hollerado. When the band played “Juliette” in particular, a group of girls standing near me were dancing, clapping, and singing along to lyrics they obviously knew by heart.
One thing that really stands out about Hollerado is that they know how to connect with the audience in between songs. Singer and guitarist Menno Versteeg intermittently told eccentric stories of strange things that have happened to the band; they involved homeless men and deformed food items, and the audience ate it up. Hollerado is also good at putting on a show. The boys jumped up in unison during song choruses, and at one point, drummer Jake Boyd stood on the drummer’s seat and banged his drums with vigor.
All this, you would think, is enough for an exciting performance. Yet anticipation in the air was palpable as Hollerado finished their set and Titus Andronicus began setting up. By this time, Sneaky Dee’s second floor was packed. There was barely room to wiggle your feet, and I was extremely lucky to find a corner from where I could observe both the band and the audience. Amidst shouts of “Titus! Titus! Titus!” the band finished setting up and launched into their first song “A More Perfect Union.”
Titus Andronicus played a 70-minute set consisting of 13 songs. And wow, was it intense. The energy inside Sneaky Dee’s continued building throughout, to the point where lead singer Patrick Stickles had to tell the audience to calm down, and try “doing the mashed potato” instead of the violent moshing. Audience members also kept shouting out song requests, which Stickles politely declined: “Guys, we’ve pretty much already decided what we’re going to play and when we’re going to play it.” He told me afterwords that the band has and will be playing the same songs in the same order during this tour.
Basically, Titus Andronicus had it all: moshing, crowd-surfing, stage diving, drinks spilling everywhere, and above all, loud, crude, energetic music continuously enticing the throbbing crowd. This is one punk band that needs to be seen live, if even just to witness the intensity of their fans.
– REVIEW BY SAKINA SHAKIL
** Photographs were provided by Amanda Fotes, of Sticky Magazine. You can check out more of her awesome photography from that night here: http://stickymagazine.com/photos/concerts/115-titus-andronicus-and-hollerado-at-sneaky-dees