If the Good Life is Tim Kasher’s outlet for his acoustic-softie side, then Cursive is how he lets his inner metalhead emerge. How else to explain the latter’s fantastic Gargoyle show on Sunday night, where a mosh pit broke out during the encore? (Yes, thanks to a certain tasing incident last year, this made B&D security folks very nervous, especially since people were losing their shit in the front rows and pushing forward violently.)
Such passion is a hallmark of Cursive’s bulldozing sax-skronk – a particular brand of throttling post-indie-punk that’s evolved so seamlessly that it’s hard to remember that they used to have a cellist in the band. Vocalist/guitarist Kasher’s raw-throated screams and revealing lyrics create beautiful agony that's intrinsic to the popularity and timelessness of Cursive’s music.
The Saddle Creek veterans debuted a ton of new songs last night, most of which were fantastic and stood up to its extensive back catalog. On “Couldn’t Love You,” corrugated riffs, Kasher’s nasally howls and organ/flute(!) parts combined to resemble the Cure, while the Good Life-like) “What Have I Done?” was harrowing, heart-wrenching (and nearly acoustic). “Race With the Devil” was a slow-burning number conjured a spikier Sunny Day Real Estate, while set-closer “Hips” began slow and sad and ended in a frenzy of jackhammer drums and guitars and Kasher yelping with wild-eyed panic.
The audience was particularly pleased with cuts from 2003’s The Ugly Organ (“Art Is Hard,” “A Gentleman Caller,” “Sierra”), while choice bits culled from 2006’s Happy Hollow (“Big Bang,” “Bad Sects”) and even a chestnut from 2000’s Domestica “The Casualty” also drew a warm response.
Despite Kasher’s observation that the crowd was rather sedate – he tried to liven things up by telling a story about playing putt-putt in Iowa, to some avail – Cursive sequenced its set perfectly, so that it kept building in intensity and volume without losing control. This meant that by the time the band lit into Hollow’s “Dorothy at 40” at the very end of the night, the song’s thundering beats and guitars felt like the apocalypse – but yet never descended into complete chaos.
I heard most of Capgun Coup's set from the lobby, because my feet couldn't handle standing on the concrete/linoleum floor for very long. But what I hears wafting through the door was, well, an acquired taste, as the band's quavering off-key vocals and earthy folk were sickly sweet and sing-songy; think early (Takeoffs and Landings) Rilo Kiley and Tilly and the Wall.
So Many Dynamos opened the night, and it’s obvious the band’s been on tour, as its set was super tight, danceable and propulsive. Even a broken snare drum (and a reference to a Limp Bizkit song “Break Stuff”) couldn’t ruin the night, which included the local debut of new song “These Bones” (which is the song I wrote about in the story here). Look for them to hit Canada in May, along with shows alongside Ra Ra Riot and Meneguar.
(reviews and photos by Annie Zaleski)