Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Concert Review: Cursive live at Mohawk

Cursive live from Mohawk (photo by Mary Rehak)

I remember getting Rolling Stone Magazine in the early part of the decade, which is where I first heard of the Omaha, Nebraska indie band, Cursive. I remember that same day I found a used copy of The Ugly Organ at the now defunct neighborhood CD Warehouse. With used copies, they used to let you listen to it in one of their store stereos with headphones on before you bought it. I know I’m dating myself here, but I miss that experience. The instant after “Some Red Handed Slight of Hand” came on through my headphones, my music collection had a new permanent addition. Saturday night at Mohawk, Cursive finally took to the stage in front of me after all these years of waiting. I remember that feeling I got years ago when I first heard The Ugly Organ in CD Warehouse. That’s the feeling I got from Cursive Saturday night at Mohawk.

As I arrived at Mohawk I caught the set of Cursive’s current touring mate and fellow Omaha brethren, Capgun coup. I thought it was an interesting paring to say the least. I think the hundreds of Cursive fans at Mohawk felt differently. While Austin indie crowds always clap politely, very few people in attendance were feeling these guys. It was evident from the band member’s faces that it was the vibe they got as well.

I think they really lost the crowd when they introduced their song, “Wish I was a fag”. The word “fag” regardless of meaning or connotation is not something that will go over with the open minded, liberal hipster audiences in Austin, Texas. If you listen to the song, it’s not meant to be used with a homophobic connotation, but it was just not a good idea to perform it when that audience was on the fence about you to begin with. I didn’t think they were all that terrible. I enjoyed their last song, not because it was their last song but because it was entertaining. It was called “Bad Bands”. The lead singer even introduced the song by saying “this is about bands like us” and got a laugh out of the audience. It was very basement party rock and the only song I’d actually download from them.

After what felt like a short set from Capgun Coup, the band we all came to see was setting up. It was a trip because it was only 10:50pm and the headliner was almost ready to go on. Gone are the days of late outdoor shows on Red River. I keep forgetting about that stupid noise ordinance, or I keep trying to anyway. Still, with perfect weather on a Saturday, Cursive going on earlier than I expected was just fine with me.

After they started off the set with “The Martyr”, a rush really took over me as started to perform “I Couldn’t Love You”, my favorite song off their current album Mama I’m Swollen. Lead singer Tim Kasher almost sounded like the CD itself, except he brought the high notes a little higher and threw in some more angst. The trumpet/organ player was great in that his trumpet playing didn’t overpower Kasher’s vocals. Again, it was all very close to CD like quality.

Shortly after, Cursive broke into The Ugly Organ album with “Gentleman Caller” and later “Butcher The Song” much to the diehard crowd’s appreciation. My favorite song from The Ugly Organ didn’t come until toward the set’s end with the ever-so angsty “Sierra”. It was nice to be around other people who scream “Sierra” out loud. I thought I was the only person who did that while alone in my room at two in the morning.

The most enjoyable part of the set for me was everything from Mama I’m Swollen, Cursive’s latest album. I think it because that is the Cursive album that reminded me how much I enjoy their music, because it had been since The Ugly Organ that I really liked something from them. Also, it is the album I have been listening to all year since I reviewed it. Being that it was all fresh in my head, I was more than ready to hear those songs live. I thought they were going to end the night with “From The Hips” as it would have been my choice for a closer. Instead they went with “Big Bang” from their Domestica album. Hearing how good “Big Bang” sounded live actually got me thinking about revisiting that album. What more can be said really? What an experience.

Cursive live from Mohawk (photo by Mary Rehak)

After their set lead singer Tim Kasher made sure everyone in attendance knew that their friends and Saddle Creek Records label mates, The Old Canes, were playing at Emo’s. Being that it was only around midnight, off we all went.

Cursive's set list from Saturday's concert:
The Martyr
I Couldn't Love You
Gentleman Caller
Dorothy at 40
Mama I'm Swollen
Butcher The Song
A Red So Deep
The Recluse
Mama I'm Satan
Mothership Mothership Do You Read Me
What Have I Done
Art is Hard
The Casualty
From The Hips
Big Bang

(Review written for and published on

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