That Moment When Everyone Gets It

American Titans at Mystery


The reason why you start a band, write songs, and risk so much rejection is for moments like the one that happened during American Titans' second song at Mystery Brewing Public House Sunday night. I watched as the crowd reaction went from “Oh, that's loud” and “Hmm, that's not what I was expecting” to “Hey wait, I really like this.”

I'm terrible at stage banter, so we choreograph our show a little bit to move seamlessly from one song to the next for two, three, four songs in a row. We opened the night with an original called “Blame,” and then a second original called “1000 Years Ago.” The former is kind of a moody, anthemic rocker and the latter is straight-up riff rock. The latter connected with the crowd, about 40-50 people ranging in age from two to 75 (no kidding, but most people were in their 20s and 30s).

I've known the founder of Mystery for about 15 years. Erik was pivotal in getting ExitEvent off the ground by serving beer (before he could even sell beer), and before that, he and I were in a band called Superlaser, one that was really good, but never got out of the drummer's basement, which, I believe, ultimately led to tension that led to our split.

Erik was kind enough to let us try our hour-or-so of original material, and we paid him back by bringing in his biggest Sunday night crowd in a long time, maybe ever, as he put it.

So we were already ahead of the game. We fortified the crowd with friends and family, and there were about a dozen people there we didn't know. We had luxuries like monitors and one of the best soundmen I've ever worked with. Erik even threw in free beer for the band. And since it was Mystery Brewing beer, that was a big deal.

But that connection though.

We held serve throughout the first set of seven songs, which were all uptempo and included a cover of Rush's “The Trees” -- semi-ironically thrown into the mix to show that we can indeed play. Bands better than us have exploded attempting stuff from Rush's 1970s catalog.

We also did a cover of the Police's “So Lonely” -- and while people recognized both of those songs, it was the original music that got them rocking. And they were rocking -- in that small, intimate space, and that just fueled us deeper into it.

The first set flew by. When we came off, the reaction was surprise mixed with smiles. I know. When your friend asks you to come see his or her band, you want to be supportive, but on the inside you're like -- “Eh… there's a really good chance this could suck.” So there's kind of a relief when it doesn't. We played above and beyond ourselves, and people really dug it.

The second set was a little bit slower, with deeper and more complex songs and a few slashers thrown in. The final number was our favorite original, it's new and it doesn't have a name. But it brought the house down. We don't have an encore, but we've been working on Foo Fighters “There Goes My Hero” (Foos, Police, and Rush -- Did I mention Mark happens to be an incredible drummer?)

The night was like a big hug. Everyone came away happy, which is what we intended. But it wasn't an acoustic, up-with-people happy, it was a release happy. There's an underlying vibe of pain, frustration, and anger to what I write, wrapped in sweet melody and catchy hooks. The night was a reminder that rock lives and it's OK to rebel a bit, even if it means, like me, you're up at 6:30 the next morning to get on with your life.

That's exactly what we're trying to achieve. The rest of it, the kudos on the original material and the positive comments on our stage show and professionalism, that's all icing.

Thanks to everyone who came out and visibly enjoyed it. It means more than you know. Thanks to Erik, Ashley, Ari, and JC at Mystery. And finally, thanks to Colin Feeney for the awesome photo.