Titus Andronicus, Ceremony and the concert roadtrip

Long hours in a car for a dirty punk party

When in a place as homey as Big Rapids, there’s sometimes only one way to find the thrills we need–by hitting the road.

Punk heavyweights and indie community favorites Titus Andronicus and Ceremony recently came to The Majestic in Detroit on the former’s “Local Business” tour, supported by local noisemakers Cheap Girls.

This extensive fall tour, which stretched from Oct. 23 – Dec. 2, was in support of Titus’ “Local Business,” released this year as the follow-up to 2010’s ambitious, critically acclaimed epic “The Monitor.”

Circling the U.S. and venturing into Canada, the tour finally wound to a close through the Midwest to its final dates in New York City and Hoboken.

“Punk is Back” boasted the band when the dates were announced, and even in the final days of the tour, the band backed it up. They certainly chose a good tour mate to back it up: Ceremony still maintains vestiges of its heavier hardcore and power-violence roots.

Cheap Girls opened capably, as one would expect of one of Michigan’s premier punk bands. The drunk, flannel-clad crowd started to liven up more for Ceremony, who brought more anarchy to the small space as they frequently delved into their older material.

The short, bristling, violent tracks doubled both the size and anarchy of the small, passionate crowd up front that drove back the more passive listeners. While not as wild as a show closer to their native California, that small pocket managed to get riled up for the particularly wild-eyed, shouting vocalist Ross Farrar.

Ceremony also knew just how to finish the show, peaking right at the end. The small spark of anarchy ignited at the end with the performance of the rant-heavy “Sick.”

As with many Michigan crowds, this one didn’t get wholly, properly riled up until the headliner came on. Titus Andronicus, the proud New Jersey punks fronted by the now beardless but ever-prickly Patrick Stickles, quickly had the entire space rocking and singing along.

Despite this being a new album-promoting tour, Titus also selected from older albums in between “Local Business” tracks. Devoted fans were treated to a surprising number of tracks from 2008’s “The Airing of Grievances,” including the harmonica-laden “Joset of Nazareth’s Blues” and the song that shares a name with the band itself–“Titus Andronicus.”

The band also had the crowd singing along to the numerous anthemic numbers off “The Monitor,” including such uplifting, repeating lines as “you’ll always be a loser” and “the enemy is everywhere.”

New songs abounded as well. “In a Big City” came early on, along with a plug for the tour-exclusive 7” split record with Ceremony featuring that song. They also raucously ran through album opener “Ecce Homo,” which begins with the band slogan-worthy lyric “Alright, I think we’ve established everything is inherently worthless,” along with standouts “My Eating Disorder,” “(I Am The) Electric Man,” and the brief, boisterous “Titus Andronicus vs. The Absurd Universe (Round 3 TKO).”

On the long drive back, it’s fair to ask whether such a long trip is worth a show that isn’t even as long as the drive there and back itself. When one’s stuck in the middle of western Michigan, though, drives and concerts like these become events, and every semester needs a few shake-ups to keep students sane.

A fun road trip and a concert to let off some steam may not be what the doctor ordered, but it’s something many a student needs.