Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: Theodore Karatzas
06/24/2009 | | | Live Show Preview
Cursive is everything all of those emo bands in the late 90s and early 2000s wanted to be but never were. This was made abundantly clear throughout their show at the Wonder Ballroom.

To start, they had at least one good opener with the Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band. There couldn't have been a more perfect group to drum up the audience. Lead singer and guitarist Benjamin Verdoes commanded the audience like a master conductor, head down in concentration and his free hand striking the air accusatorily. If you aren't familiar with them already, these Seattleites are a must-listen.

Cursive took the stage quietly but from there out, the silence was shattered. Bands as loud as these guys often sound horrible live, with individual instruments and voices meshing into one great messy casserole of a sound. Somehow, this was not a problem. Throughout the whole show, each horn part, each tap of the drums, and every word out of singer Tim Kasher's mouth were clear and crisp among the ruckus.

Kasher in particular created quite a spectacle on stage. Watching him is what it is to see a man possessed. Yelling out "The moon has raped me" on "Casualty," his body communicated almost as much as his voice. During the whole show, he threw himself around the stage, hoisting his guitar into the sky one minute, then pulling it close to his chest like a child minutes later. His face contorted itself with an agony that is evident in his music and there were more than a few moments where his hands flew up to cover his eyes. At the same time, Kasher is a master actor in that he seems completely unaware of his audience while performing, totally immersed in the moment and the music.

But as entertaining as his bodily antics were, it's Kasher's voice that really draws you in. His screams were more of a primal growl and, while his brief banter with the audience was barely intelligible at times, he sings every word with a clarity lacking in most live shows of this kind.

Drummer Cully Symington was surprisingly eye-catching as well, despite the fact that he was positioned at the very back. Symington's arms seemed far too long for his slender body as he swung about like a mad man. At times, they looked as though they were acting independently from their host, but he commanded them in an almost other-worldly manner, precisely banging out thumping beat after thumping beat.

The set list itself was also something of a surprise. Though Cursive recently released their seventh studio album, Mama, I'm Swollen, a lot of what was showcased during their show was older material, a welcome surprise to veteran listeners of the band.

Their energy was astonishing, considering the amount of time the band as a whole has been touring and recording. Seeing them today, there is no hint of the haggardness many other bands exhibit after a career spanning a decade and a half. With this recent performance, Cursive has proved that they are not only solid musicians, but incredible performers with a stamina that can be matched by few.
Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

LP / CD / MP3