March 15, 2003
night, the place to be was upstairs at Sokol Auditorium for Cursive
-- the band's first headlining gig in the big room. I'm a terrible
judge of crowd size, but it seemed as packed as any big show I've
seen up there, including Wilco and The Faint. But it wasn't a sell-out.
One guy estimated 850, but it sure seemed like more, especially
when you felt the swelteringly heat coming off the main floor (seems
like it's always hot at Sokol Auditorium shows).
missed Small Brown Bike, and Sorry About Dresden cancelled due to
mechanical troubles. I arrived just in time to seen the last Desaparecidos
song, a real scorcher featuring Oberst jumping off Baum's drum kit.
My impression: Conor needs a haircut.
came Cursive. If Kasher had worn a beanie and short pants on stage
he would have looked like that guy from AC/DC, with his short-sleeved
white shirt and neck tie. If you're a Cursive fan, you would have
dug the set. Kasher was in prime voice, and everything else was
good and loud. People were crammed up either side of the stage on
the wing steps, while you could see a crowd hanging backstage on
either side. Rumor has it that someone from The New York Times
was there last night, doing a piece on "the Omaha scene."
That would make four nationals in town over the last few weeks,
including SPIN, Blender and Fader. According
to my photographer friend, all are doing stories on "the Omaha
scene," a story that was heavily covered six months ago by
everyone from Time to Rolling Stone to obscure New
York magazines. Here I thought the spotlight was beginning to wane
on Omaha, and along comes the next wave of hype.
the band played a variety of songs from all their CDs (again, I
didn't get the set list). For me, the most noticeable element was
Gretta Cohn's cello. As I mentioned in the feature
story, Gretta's cello for the first time stands out on their
new CD. Every other time I've seen them live, I couldn't even hear
the cello amongst the fog of bass/drum/guitar. Tonight, however,
it felt like a warm blanket on even the most violent numbers, completely
transforming their sound, adding a bottom and depth that underscores
the seriousness of the proceedings.
most interesting stage patter came before the last song, when Kasher
said, in essence, that they've been playing for years, and Omaha
has never been the band's favorite city to play, but he'd like it
some reason, it doesn't surprise me that Cursive has never had the
strongest following in Omaha amongst the Saddle Creek bands (The
Faint holds that distinction, even over Bright Eyes). At its very
core, Cursive's music is abrasive and unforgiving. It doesn't lend
itself to nice melodies or yell-out choruses (though the crowd did
give it up during "The Martyr"). As a result, they don't
attract the fans that are looking for easy pop, dance beats or good-time
rock and roll. Cursive demands an investment from their listeners,
and even then, a lot of people still don't get it. But those who
do are rabid, die-hard fans -- the sort of fans that Cursive has
enjoyed more in other cities. I don't know if that'll ever change,
and I doubt the band cares all that much.
got in one song from the encore, then split, hearing the next song
blare from Sokol's open side doors, bringing in a much-need breeze,
as I made my way back three or four blocks to my jeep.
Posted March 15, 2003. Copyright © 2003 Tim McMahan. All rights
Here I thought the spotlight was beginning to wane on Omaha,
and along comes the next wave of hype.