Omaha, Nebraska’s post-hardcore darlings, Cursive, came to Trees on Monday night in support of their latest album, Vitriola. Tree’s was about three-quarter’s full, but the band drew a healthy crowd of fans who wouldn’t let a school night keep them from rocking out with their favorite band. It was a fairly diverse crowd, as well. No, there weren’t many “kids” in attendance, but the crowd who gathered seemed to mesh well together, whether it was the goth chick with red contact lenses, the middle-aged dude in an Ugly Organ t-shirt, or just your garden variety hipster. These superficial differences were of little consequence to anyone. Everyone was there to enjoy the band and hopefully get home at a decent hour.
Bandleader Tim Kasher (vocals, guitar) was joined by guitarist Ted Stevens, bassist Matt Maginn, multi-instrumentalist Patrick Newberry, cellist Megan Seibe, and original Cursive drummer Clint Schnase. The band was flawless all evening long. Each musician was clearly heard in the live mix and played off of each other perfectly. Megan Seibe was fun to watch as she furiously stroked her cello and occasionally provided vocals. Likewise, Newberry was full of surprises, whether he was playing keys, trumpet, or delicately playing a shaker to flesh out the overall sound. Simply put, the band sounded grand and provided each song with the perfect balance of atmosphere. Seibe and Newberry frequently adding a soft density to the sharp edges generated by Stevens, Kasher, and Maginn. Throughout the evening Kasher was smiling and joking around between songs. Whether he was recalling the last time the band played Trees and he smashed his guitar or regaling the crowd with 311 trivia (Cursive frequently opened for their fellow Omahans back in the day), Kasher and his bandmates seemed to be in a celebratory mood.
The band’s set covered 7 albums and an EP, with most of the material coming from Vitriola and The Ugly Organ. Not surprisingly, those songs from The Ugly Organ got the widest sing-along’s from the crowd. “A Gentleman Caller,” “Art is Hard,” and especially “The Recluse” simply delighted the audience. The deeper cuts from the Burst and Bloom EP (“Sink to the Beat”), Domestica (“The Casualty,” “The Martyr”), and The Storms of Early Summer: Semantics of Song (“The Rhyme Scheme”) were also highlights for the band’s longtime fans. All that said, the five songs from Vitriola were well received and showed the band didn’t crank out the record for the sole sake of justifying a tour, but that the well of inspiration is far from dry. The fans didn’t have the lyrics committed to memory, but I suspect that they – like myself – were taking in the live performance of these songs for the first time, wrapping our heads around the arrangements, the instruments, and the intensity of the performance.
There are only five shows left on this run before the band picks things up again in May (Click here for tour dates). Wherever you are and whenever they arrive, you should hustle your emo ass out to the show. Be sure to pick up Vitriola beforehand, because this new album is right up there with the rest of their material.
– J. Kevin Lynch