Reviews

Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: Evan Rytlewski
05/07/2009 | Expressmilwaukee.com | www.expressmilwaukee.com | Live Show Preview
Sometimes the venue makes all the difference. When Cursive toured through Milwaukee in 2006, they played an ill-fitting Pabst Theater, where the pristine sound and red-velvet seats that serve so many quieter acts so well set expectations of polish that Cursive, with their cathartic, rough-and-the-edges indie-punk, couldn't live up to. The group found a far better fit last night, though, in the cavernous, antique halls of the Turner Hall Ballroom, where their wall-rattling riffs were free to thunder triumphantly, inciting a friendly, contained mosh pit while covering up screeching singer Tim Kasher's deliberately flubbed notes. Although Cursive's records have grown increasingly clean, given the slack to be as sloppy as they want to be live they'll use every inch, and Thursday night they built even their sweetest down-tempo numbers into dour cacophonies.

Rapper P.O.S. made for an unlikely opener, though he seemed more amused by the novelty of having a rapper on the bill than the audience did. "How many of you knew there was going to be a rapper here tonight?" he asked, performing his set under the (presumably misguided) assumption that most of the crowd had never seen a rap show before. Though the crowd was welcoming, P.O.S. carried himself like a blind date intent on making a passable evening awkward by pointing out the lack of chemistry at every turn. He knew his audience well, though, pandering to them with a Fugazi reference—albeit a pretty deep one, drawing not from 13 Songs or Repeater but, awesomely, End Hits—and singing between tracks, almost subliminally, a few bars from Modest Mouse's "Head South."

More inspired was Turner Hall Ballroom's choice for the local opener slot: John The Savage, a rancorous ensemble that, though far removed from Cursive's indie angst, nonetheless shared the headliner's ear for the grotesque and frequently touched on one of Cursive's most deep-set themes: mankind's existential origins.
Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

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