Live Review: Cursive at O’Leaversfest 2019…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , — @ 1:19 pm September 23, 2019

Cursive at O’Leaver’s, September 21, 2019.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Combine a sellout crowd with summer downpour and O’Leaver’s turns into a sauna. Saturday night — the second night of O’Leaversfest — was no exception. The room felt like a steam bath, and there was no escaping unless you wanted to get soaked.

O’Leaver’s was never designed to be a live music venue, let alone one that hosts 100+ sized sellout crowds. That said, if you were quick and clever, you could squeeze through the press of bodies to the club’s upper area near the band and get a much better view than, say, from the floor near the bar, where the only thing visible was people’s butts.

Despite the heat and the crush-mob crowd, it was a helluva show. The sound was remarkably good, and Kasher’s voice never sounded better. Credit the club’s small size, as every instrument could be heard including Megan Siebe’s cello, which in the past has gotten lost in the mix. Not Saturday night, though to be truthful, I was only 20 feet from where she sat. The only audio flaw was a few minutes of squealing feedback during the second song, which sounded like it was coming through the monitors more so the mains. The sound guy figured it out quick enough.

Those who have been to packed O’Leaver’s shows know that the line between where the band plays and where the crowd starts is essentially nonexistent. With no stage, they’re playing standing (or sitting) right in front of you.

The trouble with this started shortly after Cursive began playing. The crowd quickly lost its shit and began mosh-style shoving and pushing. Frontman Tim Kasher, who’s starting to look like a young Charlie Manson with his long hair, wasn’t having it. Between songs he warned the crowd that if someone ran into Megan, who was seated playing cello next to him, he and the rest of the band were going to kick their asses. I have absolutely no doubt this would happen. A couple songs later, Kasher got into an argument between songs with some dude standing in front of the band — I’m not sure what it was about, but the guy took off and Kasher called him back. The arguing went on for a few minutes more off microphone. It was a weird deal. Finally, guitarist Ted Stevens asked everyone to calm down and the band ripped into the next song.

The night’s song selection was played chronologically, starting with a song off with something from The Storms of Early Summer and going into Domestica, The Ugly Organ and so on up through a couple songs off Vitriola, their latest album. It was a greatest hits set list that featured probably the best version of “From the Hips” I’ve ever heard, with Kasher walking right out into the middle of the crowd and singing surrounded by the throngs who sang along throughout most of the set.

Four new songs capped the performance, including two I’ve never heard before — “I Am Goddamn” and “Stranded,” — as well the two tracks released as singles the past couple weeks — “Black Hole Town” and “Barricades.” The new material at times featured the entire band playing a handful of notes together, pounding like a stumbling monster, thick and foreboding. It would give way to a vocal hook or gorgeous keyboard line, with Siebe and keyboardist Patrick Newbery used to full effect. (The only players I’ve yet to mention are at the core — bassist Matt Maginn and drummer Pat Oakes — who were spot-on solid all night).

Cursive always has been a somewhat dark band, but this new music, some of it pointedly political, represents a shift from anxiety to fear, perhaps a reflection of our times where the monster is running amok before our very eyes and there’s nothing anyone can (or will) do about it.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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