Don’t tell the sold-out crowd at Kansas City’s Record Bar that Cursive‘s latest album isn’t the critical darling that their previous works were.
Despite hitting the shelves a week ago, the lyrical weight of Tim Kasher and company’s latest concept album had already worked its way into the crowd’s mind and were sung back to the five-piece band on every note. The Gemini heavy set worked extremely well, covering the whole gamut of the band’s seven-album history without becoming awkward. Despite several lineup changes and different musical directions that each album has taken, the band has woven together a coherent narrative that unites the different eras of their history, which was displayed perfectly as the night unfolded for the Kansas City crowd.
Kasher has finally ascended to true front man status. The memory of previous tours where he was placed behind miniature organs and off to the side has been wiped clean by a thrashing, daring lyricist who can challenge a crowd with not just his wordplay, but his emotionally charged performance. The band ran a blistering set that saw Kasher maniacally charged around the stage, and at times, into the crowd.
Opening with “This House Alive,” the band set the tone for the night that the crowd would gladly oblige. The whole crowd fully came alive for “A Gentleman Caller” from 2003’s Ugly Organ, which was peppered by multi-instrumentalist Patrick Newbery’s trumpet squeals. Newbery has helped fill out the band’s sound since the departure of cellist Gretta Cohen and has brought a new texture to the group’s catalog.
Digging even further into the band’s back catalog, “The Martyr” and “A Red So Deep” made an appearance from the band’s 2000 release Domestica. They sounded just as fresh and applicable as they were over ten years ago.
The band ratcheted the tempo down with “We’re Going to Hell,” which displayed the sonic range that Cursive has been known for. For every fist-raised, shout-at-the-top-of-your-lungs, group-therapy inducing song; there were several key moments like “Hell” and a completely restructured “The Recluse” that brought the crowd back into the shared setting with the band, intimately wrapped up and hanging on the band’s every note.
The band announced after “Art is Hard” that it this was the point that typically marked the end of their main set, but the sold out crowd had made it physically impossible for the band to the leave the stage. Instead, the band launched into a four song encore which concluded with the sprawling track “Eulogy for No Name.”
For a band that has made their bread and butter on insightful, exposed to the soul emotional hardcore albums that are presented in dense concept package; it would be easy to dismiss a live show from the band as falling short at every turn. Instead, Cursive takes the hard way in and emerges with a cohesive, charged live show that is as cathartic for crowd as it is for the band.
The Record Bar 03/02/2012, Kansas City, MO
This House Alive
A Gentleman Caller
The Cat and Mouse
A Red So Deep
The Sun and Moon
Red Handed Slight of Hand
We’re Going to Hell
Twin Dragon/Hello Skeleton->
I Couldn’t Love you Anymore
Art is Hard
Dorthy at 40
Mothership, Mothership do you read me?
From The Hips
Eulogy for No Name
View a gallery of pictures of last night’s Cursive show