Reviews

Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: Dianca Potts
08/08/2009 | Phawker.com | www.phawker.com | Live Show Preview
After nearly an hour of traveling South on 309, I agonized over the perfect parking spot, finally settling on 22nd and Market. Standing at the crosswalk while facing First Unitarian, the long line of Cursive fans wrapped around the block and down the alley way. Comprised of half suburban and urban dwellers, I sensed a dichotomy of 20-somethings and fresh faced teens, making me feel slightly old at barely 22. En route towards the end of the line, I was stopped by a red-headed emo with a simple, "Hey cutie." Confused, I paused while she accusingly declared, "You don't remember me?" Probably fond of prank phone calls and messing with strangers minds, the red-headed emo was insistent that we had met and "Cutie" did not remember her. Apologizing I laughed at her attempt to embarrass me, and accepted a heartfelt apology on behalf of her lanky male counterpart, who of course had snakebites and jet black dyed hair. Standing in line was mostly a bore, aside from listening to people name drop Saddle Creek's latest and what band they saw last week. Behind me a girl with an incredible sleeve wheeled her other half up to the line. Seated in a wheelchair with his left leg sporting a cast, they quarreled about how he'd get down the narrow cement staircase that led to the venue's entrance. By the time I reached the point of boredom where I start wishing I was at home, the line began to move, my hand was stamped and my ears were greeted by Philly four-piece The G.

With the messy spontaneity of El Paso's At the Drive-In and Pavement's quirky finesse, The G's post-punk anthems made me swoon with pure nostalgia. "Trouble In Heat" featured a driving baseline with a repetitive chorus declaring, "I already told you why," easing into a percussive breakdown later fizzling into the song's end. An arguably longer number, "I'm Out" showcased keyboardist Anna Dicicco's earnest vocals and mad tambourine skills. Hold My Gold's "Escape to Witch Mountain" coupled shout out loud vocals and pre-9/11 chord progressions with hints of indie core melodics via keyboard. Nearly a minute and a half, "Escape" ended with well deserved applause. Both parts retrograde and unique, The G's "Death From Above" and "Behold A Pale Horse," with its sick keyboard distortion (think outer space ray guns and jack hammers on city streets) reminded me of the kind of music I crush on and my parents vehemently can't stand. All sorts of noisy, but with discernible control and construction, The G's set came to a close, leaving the stage to all seven of Chapel Hill's The Love Language.

Crowding onto stage, the Love Language's sound check was lengthy but thankfully amusing, proving to show goers that the sound guy as well as the band had good sense of humor including an ample amount of one liners and witty quips. With psychedelic silk scarves adorning cymbals and keyboard stands, The Love Language's "Providence" made the most of sleigh bells and chipper chords, bringing to mind The Elected, except with more heart and better vocals. "Nocturne," with a war drum like intro beside electric organ blossomed into amped up and swirling guitar riffs before coming to lovely close. "Sparxx," poppy and danceable premised the let-loose freefall of Ricky Nelson's "Mary Lou." Definitely alerting my "next big indie band" radar, the Love Language's set left me floating somewhere between southern charm and romanticism.

Before Saddle Creek's Cursive piled onto stage, I spotted a devout super fan rolling up their sleeve to show off their Ugly Organ wrist tattoo, which was placed inches away from a Black Flag tattoo. After a brief sound check, Slowdown Virginia's former counterparts assembled on stage without "Hello (insert city name here)" banter, starting off with Burst and Bloom's "The Great Decay" (also featured in '02'sEmo Game). Like Cursive's last Philly performance, fans strained their necks towards the stage, yelling along and off key with Tim Kasher's half-sung half-screamed vocals. The heretical hysterics of "The Big Bang" rang out with pre-mixed bells and brassy trumpeting, accompanying Kasher's angsty resignation against Catholicism, Adam, and Eve. "From the Hips" got less of a response, rendering the crowd in to a mass of bobbing heads. Upon its end, Kasher voiced his suspicions that Philly fans' have been gorging themselves on his band's older albums instead of the new. Humorously assuring the crowd that he didn't like their new album either, Kasher and company peeled into an onslaught of older tracks spanning from Domestica to Happy Hollow. "Art Is Hard," though devoid of Gretta Cohn sounded equally flawless in comparison to its debut. The Carpe Diem ethos of "Rise Up! Rise Up!" excited the crowd, reveling Kasher's confession to the masses with song and verse. Fists raised by the song's end, Cursive's set bled into an encore, beginning with "The Martyr." Coupling the dissonance of religious relics, Christ, and the plight of modern man, the latter half of their encore also included a cover of Robert Smith's "The Lovecats." On par with The Cure's rendition, Cursive's "Lovecats" for the most part left the audience indifferent with a handful of fans singing and swaying along. Ending with "Some Red Handed Sleight Of Hand," Cursive's songs of lament ended with minutes of praise.

SET LISTS


The G


Hold My Gold
Trouble In Heat
I'm Out
Pop Song
Better Days
Escape to Witch Mountain
Death From Above
Behold A Pale Horse

The Love Language

Two Rabbits
Providence
Nocturne
Blood
Brittney
Blue Angel
Sparxx
Manteo
Lalita
Mary Lou (Ricky Nelson Cover)

Cursive

The Great Decay
Big Bang
Driftwood: A Fairy Tale
From the Hips
The Casualty
Butcher the Song
Dorothy At Forty
Mama, I'm Satan
The Recluse
Making Friends and Acquaintances
Mama, I'm Swollen
Art is Hard
Rise Up! Rise Up!
What Have I Done?
The Martyr
I Couldn't Love You
The Love Cats (The Cure)
Some Red Handed Slight of Hand
Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

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