Titus Andronicus have been tearing up stages since 2005, slowly transforming from a scrappy DIY New Jersey punk band into an indie rock sensation. After their sophomore album, ‘The Monitor’ was praised for its big ideas and U.S. Civil War references, the band went back to the well for the punkier ‘Local Business’. That stylistic shift also shows up in their raging live show, which passed through Ottawa for a stop at the brick-lined box that is Mavericks.

The show started early (to accommodate 9-to-5 “government punks,” quipped the promoter) with a rambunctious set for local trio Finderskeepers. The band’s members are well known in the area for their unadulterated worship of the Replacements, and the shouty set certainly sounded like kith and kin to the Mats’ blurty early oeuvre.

The So So Glos are long-term pals of Titus Andronicus. TA’s Adam Reich serves as the band’s producer, and he joined them on stage for their active set. After verbally duelling with a heckler who ticked off frontman Alex Levine by demanding they “Shut up and play!”, apologizing for their late arrival due to road troubles, and demanding the lights in the room be turned way down for that intimate living room feel, the Brooklyn quartet (plus the aforementioned Reich) got down to rocking out and goading the crowd into some serious moshing to tunes such as ‘Wrecking Ball’ from their new debut album ‘Blowout’.

As Titus Andronicus took the stage the crowd began to swell (the end of one of the first National Hockey League playoffs games was a likely culprit, if a sudden increase in the number of Toronto Maple Leafs jerseys was anything to go by). They were more than eager to crowd the front of the stage and pump their fists to songs like opener ‘A Pot in which to Piss’ and ‘‘Upon Viewing Bruegel’s ‘Landscape with the Fall of Icarus’’. Having covered their first two albums they brought out a double-header from ‘Local Business’ with ‘In a Big City’, followed by ‘Still Life with Hot Deuce and Silver Platter’.

Drummer Eric Harm got in some frontman time, singing ‘The Dog’ while Adam Reich filled in behind the kit.

TA’s sometimes abrasive guitar style owes a big debt to Neil Young’s noisier stuff, and there was no surprise when they busted out a robust cover of his ‘Powderfinger’ after bantering about catching a ‘life-changing’ show by the veteran musician.

Then it was time for “enough of this classic rock shit,” in the words of frontman Patrick Stickles, who ditched his guitar (“You never saw Joey Ramone with a guitar!”) and wrapped his microphone cord around his forearm for something more in the classic punk vein, ‘Titus Andronicus vs. the Absurd Universe (3rd Round KO)’, the primary - perhaps only - lyric of which is “I’m going insane!”. ‘My Time Outside the Womb’ followed, with some dreadfully off-key guitar work. “I’d just like to say the next song is in B major ... B major!”

The band didn’t leave the stage, instead inviting up members of The So So Glos to help them romp through Joan Jett’s ‘I Love Rock’N’Roll’, the Beastie Boys' ‘No Sleep till Brooklyn’, Rancid’s ‘Roots Radicals’ and Billy Bragg’s ‘To Have and Have Not’, ending the show with a chaotic bang.

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