Written by Eric Grubbs
Cursive Fitzgerald's March 1, 2015
Sunday night at Fitzgerald's, Cursive might have played songs from an album released 12 years ago, but the long-running Omaha-based band still sounded vital and viable. Co-fronted by Tim Kasher and Ted Stevens (along with original bassist Matt Maginn, longtime drummer Cully Symington, multi-instrumentalist Patrick Newberry, and new touring cellist Ellen Lind) they gave a packed audience a solid 19-song set over the course of 90 minutes.
Focusing on material from 2003's The Ugly Organ, the album that transformed the band from the post-hardcore/emo niche into something broader and more diverse, all 12 songs were played by the end of the night. But as is the norm with bands celebrating a classic album on tour these days, Cursive didn't play the album from front to back; gems from their Domestica, Happy Hollow, Mama, I'm Swollen and I Am Gemini LPs all made appearances too. The audience didn't seem to mind: pretty much every song felt like a home run to them. They sang along, pushed around and danced at any chance they got.
Kasher, with a pink shirt and multi-colored tie, showed restraint during the first handful of songs. He didn't let go of his voice and didn't move around too much, but once songs like "Herald! Frankenstein" and "Butcher the Song" came in, he let loose, bouncing to Symington's pulverizing beats. Very little was said between songs, aside from genuine thanks and gratitude, leaving not much space to breathe. Yet there was a healthy variety in sequencing the material. There would be a few ragers next to each other, followed by quieter, less abrasive material. There were no drags or songs that felt out of place. There was enough to take in without overloading.
Probably one of the most unique aspects of The Ugly Organ is the use of cello, which is much more of a lead instrument than an accompaniment. Lind perfectly matched the parts original cellist Gretta Cohn played on the record through a crystal-clear sound mix, allowing every nuance of Lind's cello and bow to resonate throughout the venue. Yes, those parts cut through keyboards, bass, drums, and two guitars.
It can't be stated enough how strong Cursive still is after all these years. They show their roots to a pioneer like Fugazi, but don't sound like they're trying revive that band's magic. Cursive has their own magic, with a wide range of material over a dozen LPs and EPs. They are a testament to doing a band in their own way, not following a proven formula or riding on the heels of a hit.
So, How Were the Openers? It's always awesome to see the opening bands get lots of love from an audience comprised mostly of newbies. Megafauna did not shy away from playing big and meaty riffs, recalling a power-trio dynamic that you don't often see these days. Beach Slang proved they are a force to take note of, even with only two EPs out. Recalling the greatness of Jawbreaker and the Replacements, with no fear in sounding like they're playing in a stadium, this is a band that makes you happy to be alive.
Personal Bias: This was my sixth time to see Cursive; the first was on the original Ugly Organ tour. I've never come out of their shows disappointed.
Random Note: Kasher decided to do an impromptu version of Oasis's "Wonderwall" during "Dorothy at Forty."
SET LIST Sink to the Beat Big Bang Some Red-Handed Sleight of HAnd Art is Hard The Recluse The Martyr Nonsense Herald! Frankenstein Butcher the Song Driftwood: A Fairytale Tall Tales Telltales Excerpts From Various Notes Strewn Around The Bedroom of April Connolly, Feb. 24, 1997 This House Alive A Gentleman Caller Harold Weathervein Bloody Murderer Dorothy at Forty
ENCORE Sierra Staying Alive
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