Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: Drew Reynolds
06/28/2009 | | | Live Show Preview
So sure, Sundays are usually slow nights for shows, but Cursive set tonight on slow-burning, steady as all hell fire. Hailing from indie hotbed Omaha, Cursive was one of the first bands on Saddle Creek and has been around in some form or another since the mid-'90s. Live, Cursive is nine kinds of stellar. You can really hear lead vocalist/guitarist Tim Kasher's indie falsetto, and the music is simply overpowering. Sometimes the rhythms are fractured, but the music is always urgent, always churning out a catharsis-like sound. The lyrics are chockfull of angst, but it's wholly mature angst, perhaps the highest order of angst modern indie has to offer today.

Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band opened with a superbly jangly number that immediately got stuck within the grooves and cracks of my brain. Although they are from rainy Seattle, the lead singer looks like an indie blonde Pet Sounds-era Beach Boy. For fun's sake, they started off one of their songs by bouncing tennis balls off of a drum into the rather stiff audience. Comprised of four guys and one girl, Mt. St. Helens sounds a little bit angular, jangly, and they rock out earnestly and energetically. Their name might be a mouthful, but their music is all manic passion, and that you have to respect, so definitely be sure and check them out.

Cursive went on straight away with all the mature angst and barreling melodies they have to offer. Kaser came on stage very much the handsome front-man, wearing some sort of black shirt, with just the faintest touch of skin showing. Kaser has the vocal ability to sing soft, then suddenly hard, nearly swiping the crowd off its feet. His voice is like unopened whiskey: smooth, powerful, pure. The crowd just fucking drank it up. When Kaser sings, he uses his hands a little, endearing him to us as a quite lively and lovely performer. The band itself plays such dynamics of sound that all you really want to say when describing Cursive is "fucking dig this."

The frantic, frenetic favorite of the night was probably the very provocative "From The Hips," featuring the hot and heavy lyric "It just feels good and that's no sin/It's the only way to feel alive/The closest thing to being born again." Another highlight of the night was the slightly dancey title track "Mama, I'm Swollen," with the potent lyrical imagery of "I am no one/Burning beneath the blood red sun."

From all the spastic headnods, everyone in the audience was feeling and digging on Kaser's highly animated voice. His lyrics have always been the mainstay allure and fascinating draw to Cursive, as his words are soaked like rum in relationship tragedy, love gone wrong and philosophical melancholia. The rest of the band are seasoned performers in their own right, and they rock their hyper musical hearts out. Their sweaty, flannel-clad drummer was an instantaneous crush of the night. He provided Cursive's propelling backbone, the force behind Kaser's lovelorn vocals and supremely intricate lyrics.

At one point during their set, Kaser's voice rose up then slammed way deep down inside of us. He is able to convey emotion with his vocals, and this is where the stunning power of Cursive truly lies. Their slower tempo songs are things of great beauty. These songs pour out of some deeply-felt place, and it's like wanting to collapse into a waiting lover's arms. Under the sway of blue and red lights, the show was a smash. Cursive's encore was electric, with Kaser calling the L.A. crowd "beautiful" and "perfect." The band ended the night with beloved old favorites including "The Recluse."

Guitars and drums crash melodically and reverberate throughout your entire chest, and it's the kind of ecstasy you can only get after you have purged yourself of emotions or after listening to brilliant Kaser. Now, that is Cursive.
Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

LP / CD / MP3