As with any CMJ event, I was asked early last evening which acts, out of the several hundred playing, I would watch. With the festival’s first day wrapped up I’m happy to say that I was not disappointed either in venue, The Glasslands Gallery in Williamsburg, or the excellent headliners Titus Andronicus.

The band took the stage around 12:30, the crowd clearly energized by the native New Jerseyans’ arrival. The Glasslands featured an impressive stage decoration, and if there were any reservations that the long wait would be worth it, they were dispelled instantly as Titus Andronicus ripped into a set of raucous punk-folk with songs both old and new.

I would love to say that I retained professional composure throughout the show, but the allure was too much. Within moments of the first song starting I dove headlong into the furor with the fifty or so other gals and guys all indulging in the same uncontrollable urge to show appreciation. The band played a typically energetic set with their trade mark crescendos on “No Future Pt. 3: Escape from No Future” reaching an inspired, gang-shout culmination. I could have sworn a crowd of a thousand joined the snarling, visceral vocals of frontman Patrick Stickles.

A genuinely good band should be able to play new material at live shows and receive just as good a reception as their well-played older songs, and Titus Andronicus are no exception to this rule. Several new songs displayed all the energy and diversity that has made the band great in the first place and showed exciting promise for the next record.

The classic Titus Andronicus belters were on show in force throughout the 90-minute set. Songs such as “Fear and Loathing in Mahwah N.J.,” which is fiercely centered around death, religion and hatred, have never seemed been so uplifting as I’m sure the entire crowd would attest. For my money, I’m betting that they weren’t only the best band to play CMJ’s first day, but will be in strong contention for best of the entire event.

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