The line wrapping around the block outside Santos Party House was staggering. Title Fight (along with Touché Amoré, the Menzingers and Dead End Path) had effectively sold out the 570-capacity club; even the venue seemed to be surprised by it, ill-equipped to handle their customers as it took them more than an hour to get everyone inside. Between that and some personal obstacles, I missed Dead End Path completely, and the Menzingers were 10 minutes into their set playing to a jubilant crowd when I finally managed to get in.
The Menzingers have built a steady following through an assortment of DIY space, bar basement, loft and apartment shows in Brooklyn the past couple of years, and over here in Manhattan they seemed to be playing to their biggest and most responsive NYC audience yet. Kids and grown-ass kids sang along and freaked out for just about every song, and it only ramped up the excitement when they threw in a surprise cover of Operation Ivy's oft-culled "Knowledge". When they closed things down with the jagged title track off 2007's A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technology, guitarists Greg Barnett and Tom May handed off their instruments (to friends/techs?) and became leaning, swaying co-frontmen, with the audience piling on stage to help finish the aggressive chant.
Set list (incomplete):
- Home Outgrown
- Knowledge [Operation Ivy cover]
- Time Tables
- They Speak of Drinking, But Never of My Thirst
- Lilith Avi
- A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technology
By chance, Santos Party House is Touché Amoré's go-to place to play when they come to Manhattan; they've played here before supporting Converge and Envy on separate tours. It's a pretty good spot for them, though; it keeps the frenzied crowd away from the pedals and guitars, and still gives everyone room to dive and borderline molest frontman Jeremy Bolm, who prounounced this their best New York show yet (it definitely seemed like their biggest response to date here, a common theme this night). In fact, the floor felt more packed out for Touché's set than it did for Title Fight's later on, strangely, with clustered push-mosh occurring (uh-oh...). The band themselves navigated deftly through a set comprised of songs from both full-lengths, with a deeper cut lifted (the softer "And I'll Deserve Just That") from last year's La Dispute split. Greg Barnett even hopped on to play the part of Geoff Rickly for "History Reshits Itself", which would be a particularly fitting song to play with gay marriage being passed in New York only a few hours later.
Set list (9:08-9:36):
- And Now It's Happening in Mine
- Broken Records
- And I'll Deserve Just That
- The Great Repetition
- History Reshits Itself [f/ Greg Barnett of the Menzingers]
- Home Away from Here
- Always Running, Never Looking Back
- Honest Sleep
With a great new full-length of material (their best effort yet) to mix into their set, Title Fight sets are way better than usual these days. They're also playing a little bit tighter, thankfully, compared to their routinely sloppy performances of yesteryear. Yeah, they still play with a scrappy rawness, but it's tempered now, and it lends well to the band's diverse takes on '90s emo, melodic hardcore and ragged pop-punk. They started things with the taut, moody chug of "No One Stays at the Top Forever", with its faster tempo acting as a nice bridge to the more open-ended, Hot Water Music-esque "Shed". From there, it was plenty of stage dives and kids getting on stage simply to accompany Jamie Rhoden and Ned Russin on select lyrics. The floor was much more open than during the night's prior sets, with the usual array of hardcore dancing prevalent at their shows for years now.
The band's no-frills approach was as stripped as ever; just before they concluded with fan favorite "Youreyeah", Russin stepped to the mic, snarled "Last song," and it was indeed the last we heard from them.
Set list (9:54-10:28):
- No One Stays at the Top Forever
- Loud and Clear
- You Can't Say Kingston Doesn't Love You
- Memorial Field
- Safe in Your Skin
- Western Haikus
- Coxton Yard