Cursive

Shifting gears towards the heavier side of Saddle Creek’s roster, Cursive headlined their first show in Toronto on August 1, 2009 at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern, with local rock band Arietta opening. On paper this seemed to be an odd mix, with Arietta known for their upbeat catchy hooks and Cursive known for a far heavier and darker tone.

Opening for a band like Cursive, Arietta had something to prove. Arietta was clearly happy to be there, reveling at their second night at the Horseshoe within ten days, and that infectious spirit spread through the crowd. The band’s shortened set stuck to the more upbeat tracks from their May release, Migration, a wise decision, keeping the energy up for the entire performance. All members were firing on all cylinders, with a special mention to utility instrumentalist Pat McCormick, who added a delightful stage presence, roaming about the stage and crowd throughout the set. The band left the stage as abruptly as they came, leaving audience members happy, and likely impressing the Cursive fans previously unaware of their existence.

Arietta – Northearned
Cursive – The Recluse
Cursive – From the Hips

ariettalive

I had decidedly mixed feelings on Cursive’s performance. Giving credit where credit is due, Tim Kasher expertly worked the crowd into a frenzy, taking on the numerous personae found throughout Cursive’s catalogue, recalling the preacher of ‘Bad Sects’. The setlist drew largely from their three most recent albums, The Ugly Organ, Happy Hollow, and Mama I’m Swollen. Singles and favourites like ‘The Recluse’, ‘A Gentleman Caller’, and ‘Bad Sects’ made appearances. The band didn’t acknowledge the audience until slightly before the encore, which was fine. I have no problem getting more songs in place of banter. The standard thanking of the crowd took place. Some overzealous audience member performed a backflip which even caught the band off-guard, leading Kasher to suggest “ambulance?” Closing with Domestica’s epic ‘The Martyr’ likely left people happy with the songs played. No, I didn’t get ‘The Great Decay,’ but that’s nitpicking.

Cursive

The hardcore scene and I have a love/hate relationship. I’ve never been a fan of the mosh pit. My frame isn’t built for the punishment it deals out, but I’ve learned to avoid it and still enjoy the show. Perhaps my expectations were a little off, as I wasn’t expecting a hardcore show. Yes, Cursive is particularly aggressive, but they maintain a distinct melodic quality to most of their songs. On record, Tim Kasher has a certain nuance to his voice. Yes, he screams, but there are moments of calm in the storm, more introspective than purely aggressive. In person, somehow this all got thrown out the window, with every instrument seemingly set permanently on eleven, and the vocals degenerating into pure yelling on numerous occasions, even in the outro to ‘The Recluse’. If I had a set of earplugs it may have been slightly more bearable, but it was a bit of an ordeal, especially when accompanied by someone less than used to that sound.

Opening for a band like Cursive, Arietta had something to prove. Arietta was clearly happy to be there, reveling at their second night at the Horseshoe within ten days, and that infectious spirit spread through the crowd. The band’s shortened set stuck to the more upbeat tracks from their May release, Migration, a wise decision, as the energy level didn’t dip throughout their and it provided an excellent contrast to the headlining band. All members were firing on all cylinders, with a special mention to utility instrumentalist Pat McCormick, who added a delightful stage presence, roaming about the stage and crowd throughout the set. The band left the stage as abruptly as they came, leaving audience members happy, and likely impressing the Cursive fans previously unaware of their existence.

I had decidedly mixed feelings on Cursive’s performance. Giving credit where credit is due, Tim Kasher expertly worked the crowd into a frenzy, taking on the numerous personae found throughout Cursive’s catalogue, recalling the preacher of ‘Bad Sects’. The setlist drew largely from their three most recent albums, The Ugly Organ, Happy Hollow, and Mama I’m Swollen. Singles and favourites like ‘The Recluse’, ‘A Gentleman Caller’, and ‘Bad Sects’ made appearances. The band didn’t acknowledge the audience until slightly before the encore, which was fine. I have no problem getting more songs in place of banter. The standard thanking of the crowd took place. Some overzealous audience member performed a backflip which even caught the band off-guard, leading Kasher to suggest “Ambulance?” Closing with Domestica’s epic ‘The Martyr’ likely left people happy with the songs played. No, I didn’t get ‘The Great Decay,’ but that’s nitpicking.

The hardcore scene and I have a love/hate relationship. I’ve never been a fan of the mosh pit. My frame isn’t built for the punishment it deals out, but I’ve learned to avoid it and still enjoy the show. Perhaps my expectations were a little off, as I wasn’t expecting a hardcore show. Yes, Cursive is particularly aggressive, but they maintain a distinct melodic quality to most of their songs. On record, Tim Kasher has a certain nuance to his voice. Yes, he screams, but there are moments of calm in the storm, more introspective than purely aggressive. In person, somehow this all got thrown out the window, with every instrument seemingly set permanently on eleven, and the vocals degenerating into pure yelling on numerous occasions, even in the outro to ‘The Recluse’. If I had a set of earplugs it may have been slightly more bearable, but it was a bit of an ordeal, especially when accompanied by someone less than used that sound.

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— , August 10, 2009    Comments Off on Cursive: The Horseshoe Tavern
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