Cursive | 05.29.07

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live_cursiveThey moved forward with "Dorothy at Forty," one of my favorite tracks from their most recent release, 2006's Happy Hollow, the lyrics precise and exact: "Dreams are all you have/ dreams have held you back/ dreamers never live/ only dream of it..."





w/The Show Is the Rainbow & Jesse James Wax Museum
Remmington's Downtown,
Springfield, Mo.

Despite the acoustics in the venue resembling that of a skating rink or, perhaps, what I imagine shouting into a shoebox lined with tinfoil would sound like, nobody seemed to mind. Energy was high. Everyone could sense that something fucking awesome was brewing. What, exactly, we had in store, no one could have predicted. Jesse James Wax Museum (a local Springfield band) was an interesting first act. The seven-piece crew drew the crowd into a clap-along frenzy with their infectious beats, sweet femme harmonies, cello goodness, occasional upright bass, and really, none of it would have been complete without the crazy tambourine man wandering from bandmate to bandmate, shaking the device over each person's head for a matter of five or six seconds.

The Show Is the Rainbow notched a place in my list of favorite opening acts of all time. This one-man-show features Darren Keen, a short, rotund performer from Lincoln, Neb., who's a sort of electronic scream-o emcee, strolling through the audience during his songs, thrashing around in his red, Sally Jesse Raphael spectacles and a Grizzly Adams beard wearing a t-shirt that's two sizes too small to accentuate his already pronounced beer gut (Bruce Vilanch, anyone?). Keen was accompanied by his own homemade video clips projected onto what appeared to be a pillowcase rigged as a screen and held up by a naïve framing system. Awesome though the videos were, it was hard to pay attention to them, what with Keen stage-diving, twirling around the audience, and hopping up and down off the stage roughly four times per song.

Cursive took the stage after a set change that seemed to drag on forever while Hank Williams played through the house speakers. The band filed in unassumingly and without fanfare, starting off with "Butcher the Song" from their critically acclaimed 2003 release, The Ugly Organ. In addition to the standard guitars and drums, this tour included two sets of effects boards whose operators floated between messing with keys and wailing on horns.

They moved forward with "Dorothy at Forty," one of my favorite tracks from their most recent release, 2006's Happy Hollow, the lyrics precise and exact: "Dreams are all you have/ dreams have held you back/ dreamers never live/ only dream of it..."

Lead singer and guitarist Tim Kasher's quiet presence matched with his explosive performance is disarming. It's like every song is a sort of purge, a wrenching cleanse that, while welcomed for its raw honesty, is simultaneously exhausting to watch. And even though everyone was having one hell of a good time and screaming between songs, the transitions seemed weird; the silences seemed awkward.

Other selections from the set included "Sierra," with an extended, badass intro, rolling sound effects, and a huge build toward the end. The entire show was a spectacle of layers. Disjointed horns like rain pushed into jazzy instrumentals while Kasher toggled between his falsettos and screams like a cat teases a mouse. Whatever the scenario, you can always expect an explosive, measured cacophony toward the close, like a controlled crash.

"Art Is Hard" drew massive applause from the crowd as the set drew to an end, as did "Big Bang," which they chose as the first song of their encore. "Just a formality," Kasher explained as they returned to the stage after stepping off into the wings for a mere moment. Formalities, though, seemed out of place for a band whose most recent creative efforts make a point to expose such sad cultural formalities as suburbia, consumerism, the American Dream, and organized religion. Screw the protocol, I say. Just keep playing. Tell the talking snake to save his apples for someone else. | Mandy Jordan

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