Mama, I'm Swollen
November 27th, 2009
Better than: realizing that the Black Friday deal you got was a Black Friday bust.
Watching the four-band bill on Friday was like watching many Dallas Cowboys' wins: Everything came together in the last part.
The mighty Cursive arrived at one of Denton's finest venues with a relatively new lineup. Whereas the last time they came through DFW with three additional members on various instruments, the band had only one auxiliary member this time. Oh, and a new drummer as well. But, despite the ever-changing lineups, Cursive has yet to disappoint live, and the show at Hailey's continued the winning streak.
Opening with "Butcher the Song" from The Ugly Organ, the band said very little between its first 13 songs. Many songs from The Ugly Organ and Happy Hollow were played, while some choice cuts from Domestica and this year's Mama, I'm Swollen got some attention as well.
But the key difference between Cursive's last show in the DFW area and this show was how this new, consolidated lineup worked out the various, multiple layers found in older Cursive songs. The last time out, there were enough members up on stage to cover horn and cello parts as well as keyboards and sampling. This time, touring member Patrick Newberry covered many cello parts by either playing them on trumpet or flugelhorn, keyboard, or via a sampler. A little too simplified? Yes, but the parts were covered and thankfully not downplayed.
The other noticeable difference was how drummer Cully Symington (who has also played with the Gutter Twins) brought a much bigger thump to the sound. Though he didn't quite play as ferociously loud as someone like Jason Garner of The Paper Chase, Symington had a certain heaviness and feel comparable to Josh Garza of The Secret Machines. Thus, every rock-out part had a good kick in the gut.
Symington's contribution was definitely felt during "What Have I Done?" Just that performance alone could have ended the night on a high note. Alas, the packed Hailey's crowd wanted more, and they got plenty in return during the encore.
The band encored with five more songs, including a spot-on rendition of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man." And as if that wasn't enough, it finished with "The Martyr," the towering opening track from Domestica. Main frontman Tim Kasher got into the crowd and sang to the stage from the second verse on. That was definitely a more-involved "crowd participation" moment compared to just clapping along.
With broken glass and beer spilled all over the floor, the show was gloriously over. But Cursive's set compensated for an uneven supporting bill.
Denton's own The Timeline Post got things going very smoothly with a 20-minute set. The sextet has a sound that is comparable to late '90s Deep Elm Records bands along with David Bazan-like vocals, but does not feel derivative or uninspired. Old Canes gave a decent performance with drums, acoustic guitar, cello, keyboards, and trumpet, but after a while, the same train-keeps-rolling vibe grew tiresome. Capgun Coup, meanwhile, put an absolutely sloppy and bratty set, filled with major tuning problems and grating vocals.
Sometimes that kind of sloppiness can be refreshing and inspiring. Capgun Coup just made people want Cursive even more.
Personal bias: I initially dismissed Cursive back in college because I thought Domestica sounded way too much like Fugazi. Thankfully The Ugly Organ made me change my opinion on the band--as well as Domestica.
Random Quote: "What time is it?" asked a member of Capgun Coup during their soundcheck. The soundman's response: "It's time to go."
Random note: Tim Kasher drank from a tall glass of water with a whopping four lemons in it. Whatever works to keep the vocal cords in shape....
LP / CD / MP3
LP / CD / MP3
LP / CD / MP3