Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: Anya Moberly
03/17/2009 | San Diego State Daily Aztec | | Live Show Preview
If people often tell you "It's a sold-out show, so get there early," you may want to take that with the proverbial grain of salt because you could have a while to wait before the headlining act makes its stage entrance. Case in point: last Saturday night at legendary live-music venue The Casbah.

Hailing from Omaha, Neb., indie-rock band Cursive quickly sold-out the local bar months in advance because of its sizable popularity among both underground and mainstream music lovers. Cursive's acclaim comes rightly earned as a result of its post-hard core multi-instrumentalist persuasion and thought-provoking lyrics.

Cursive's stop in San Diego was fortunately at intimate rock venue, The Casbah, which may have been a reason for the fast sellout of tickets. The Casbah never fails to set the mood for whatever act it may be hosting because of the relatively small occupancy and grungy ambiance. And because there were two bands that took the stage before the Midwest group, there was time to lubricate the senses and stimulate the mind with mingling and boozing in the Christmas light-strewn venue.

Opening act Little Brazil took on the anxious audience with mixed force, taking its alternative-rock sound to a mediocre level. There was a definite rift in energy in the band; two members were passionately engaged in the moment and sound, while the other two appeared uninterested. One of the less-than-enthused members of Little Brazil, lead singer and guitarist Landon Hedges, made unusually frequent eye contact throughout the set and not in an especially good way. It was unclear whether he was doing this in an attempt to enter the souls of the audience with his vocals or if his lackluster energy resulted in a mere robotic memorization of the tracks. It would be safe to bet on the latter.

After a generous buffer period, Cursive took the stage to much anticipated applause and cheers from the audience.

Each member of the band was dressed in casual Oxford shirts, further emphasizing its minimalistic approach. The stage was complete with two guitars, a bass, drums and a multi-tasking trumpeter and keyboardist. Songwriter and lead guitarist Tim Kasher was at the forefront of the stage, having the most solid stage-presence among the band, not to mention the driving artistic influence.

Opening with "Rise up! Rise up!" from its 2006 album "Happy Hollow," Cursive immediately engaged the audience with its uplifting lyrics of "Live a full life / 'Cause when it's over, it's done / So rise up! Rise up! / Dance and scream and love!"

Although actively interested, the audience seemed to need a few songs to warm up to Kasher's speed. Because Cursive's most recent album was only released a week ago, it made sense that some tracks performed didn't have as many audience members singing along.

However, this was not the case for songs off its 2003 album, "The Ugly Organ."
Widely considered its most popular album both creatively and critically, Cursive sensibly played a handful of tracks from this album to rile up its listeners and remind them of its deep aptitude for the indie-rock ranging sound.

Another track that was methodically placed in the set was "Some Red Handed Sleight of Hand," which begins in a fast tempo drum beat and stringed tinges. As a song that induced much jumping and dancing, Kasher worked well with his audience and served up his creatively honest lyrics about the difficulties of working in this industry.

It was no surprise that many sang along to his " A Gentleman Caller," which comments on the juxtaposition of sex and infidelity, a common heart-wrenching experience. The rough guitar riffs seemed to incite a feeling in Kasher's fans, screaming the lyrics along with him in the same painful throat-scratching moan. Mid-song, the band broke out in a softer, melodic chant, alleviating the pain the audience may have felt initially from lyrics such as, "Your gentleman caller / Well, he's been calling on another / He loves his forbidden fruit."

Cursive has long since created wonderfully thought-provoking lyrics and a sound that induces both a hard edge and a soft sway in its listeners. And with a nod of gratitude from Kasher, Cursive's lengthy, yet stimulating set came to a close.
Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

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