La Sera - This three-piece group brought some hop to their opening songs, a necessity given the 10:30 p.m. start time. La Sera’s single “High Notes” showcased a sound marked by ringing guitar and singer/bassist Katy Goodman’s self-assured vocals. Her singing recalls Debbie Harry’s vocal style, remaining clear and controlled even during the most intense instrumental sections. La Sera’s set gradually increased in aggression, notably on “Time to Go”, as Todd Wisenbaker’s thrashing guitar brought a welcome new element to their sound. “I Need an Angel” even verged on mid-80s REM before a Wisenbaker solo segued into a breezy cover of “Whole Lotta Love”. Goodman reminisced about driving out to hang in 7/11 parking lots with Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles when they were high schoolers. La Sera’s set marked the start of a far more productive road trip for both of them.
Titus Andronicus - Patrick Stickles made a Hulk Hogan-style stage entrance, gesturing to the crowd and cupping his ear to encourage fan approval. He welcomed everyone to the “inaugural edition” of his band’s May tour before performing a solo rendition of “Upon Viewing Oregon’s Landscape With the Flood of Detritus”. After this stripped-down version, the full-band sounded that much heavier on tunes like “Lonely Boy”, which could have passed for a long-lost Heartbreakers song. Titus Andronicus delivered their expected uplifting set, bashing out “Fatal Flaw” and “Mr. E. Mann” to fans’ delight. Their music always feels life-affirming, whether the faithful are chanting along with “It’s alright!” or “You will always be a loser”. Stickles even paraphrased the Christ, begging for this cup to be taken from him in “Upon Viewing Brueghel’s Landscape with the Flight of Icarus”, then acquiescing gracefully with “Thy will be done.” His band continues to give their true believers much cause for rejoicing.
Esoterica: Katy Goodman: “Todd, what are all these songs about?” Todd Wisenbaker: “Fuckin’ shit up.” … Patrick Stickles, on keeping violence out of his shows: “This is punk, and punk is about freedom for everybody, regardless of our physical stature.” … As his early show counterparts did hours earlier, Stickles asked the audience about the night’s other headlining act, and reported gratefully that Parquet Courts were good guys. His own band’s set concluded shortly after 1 a.m.