Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: Danielle Look
07/30/2009 | | | Feature
On an otherwise drab and uneventful Monday evening, My Old Kentucky Blog brought long-time indie-punk-rockers Cursive to Fountain Square to liven things up a bit. With a dance floor packed tighter than skinny jeans on a hipster and heads banging in the air 'til the very last note, Radio Radio was unquestionably the place you wanted to be Monday night.

At the fault of no one but their own pitiful selves, the crowd lacked personality and friendliness. A little girl in a purple tank top tapped me on the shoulder and defied, in her snottiest voice, "Oh cool! You stole my spot!" as she nudged me out of the mass and into the aisle way. Countless couples were in attendance, apparently for the pleasure of public groping instead of live music. Perhaps most frustrating is that the whole audience knew the music and they knew it well, evident by the mass sing-alongs that transpired during much of the concert. But, with the exception of Cursive's most rowdy songs, the energy was low and the fans appeared to be exactly opposite of just that.

Musically, Cursive is an acquired taste. Lead singer/guitarist Tim Kasher is their unique identifier, with a vocal range as wide as the color spectrum. His style is comparable to Modest Mouse and Ugly Casanova leader Isaac Brock, laced with slight Dr. Dog inspiration. As his songs disintegrate into wails that splinter and shriek like an adolescent in puberty, one of two things happen to the listener: instant discredit as a result of talentless vocal training or immediate memorization through the beautiful, other-worldly sounds created by a single soul. We all chose the latter.

The entire band gives it their all, though, and aids equally in the crude, vigorous sound. The leopard print carpet covering the stage where bassist Matt Maginn and guitarist Ted Stevens stood could only have been saturated in sweat at the show's conclusion.

They're not all fast tempo and yelling, however; Cursive also has a delicate, tranquil side. Most notable of these moments was the closing number prior to the encore set, What Have I Done from their latest album, Mama, I'm Swollen. What began as a seemingly standard song precipitously morphed into something unexpectedly grand. Riding the fence between spoken word and song, in What Have I Done Kasher reflects on life's accomplishments both from the past and future. The song begins with heavy emphasis on lyrics ("So is this my destiny? From starlight into eternity, the gods must be laughing down at me.") and light musical background. As it progresses, however, Kasher's vocals are backed first by a steady bass line and percussion beat, then by building layer after layer of stately sound from the entire band. He rounds out the song wailing, rather than singing, in that sweet, beautiful voice of his.

The encore set was long, almost a mini-concert in itself, leaving one in awe of Cursive's intensity and endurance. Again, the audience was presented with an equal mix of up-beat tunes and mellow rock. A tired and perspiring crowd clapped with gratitude and patted the band on the back as they exited the stage, closing the best Monday that most of us had experienced in a long, long time.
Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

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