Concert Review: Cursive

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Cursive, with the Show is the Rainbow. Wednesday, May 30, at the Bottleneck.

Review by Crystal K. Wiebe

I keep dooming myself to draggy Thursdays by hitting up Lawrence shows on Wednesday nights. Last week it was the Album Leaf at the Jackpot (atmospheric rock that turned out too mellow for me). Last night, it was Cursive at the Bottleneck.

My fellow Nebraskans came on after a short set by another act from the Cornhusker state, the Show is the Rainbow. The one-man band is best described as performance art. Tubby Darren Keene sings along (and sometimes doesn’t) with his homemade music videos, which are projected on stage as he cavorts with the audience. I caught the guy several times back when I was living in Lincoln. Although a bit more high tech, his act hasn’t gotten any less silly. The subjects of last night’s songs included a pedophile shortbus driver, a guy begging for anal sex from his girlfriend, and gay marriage.

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Tim Kasher and Cursive squall away at the Bottleneck.

In addition to his obsession with kink, Keene also spends a lot of time making fun of hipsters and snobby indie rock, which at first may make him seem to be a strange tourmate for a serious indie rock band, but socially cynical Cursive isn’t much obsessed with image. The group came on in everyday clothes, most of them looking pretty soft in the mid-section. The band’s first song of the night, “Bad Sects,” is a defense of homosexuality (albeit a bit more poetic than Keene’s). The ballad of a sexually repressed Catholic priest appears on Happy Hollow, Cursive’s latest album, which constantly highlights hypocrisy through images drawn from Christianity and the Wizard of Oz. It always seems appropriate to see these songs performed in a Kansas venue, the horn section and frontman Tim Kasher squalling about tornados and creationism.

The band also pulled from older albums Domestica and The Ugly Organ. “Martyr,” “A Gentleman Caller,” “The Ugly Organist” and the wrenching “Sierra” all made the set list. I thought of Keene again during “Art is Hard” and "The Recluse." Both songs air Kasher’s creative insecurities, undermining any notion that he’s one of those pretentious rockers so annoying to Keene. My ego’s like my stomach, Kasher sings in "The Recluse," it keeps shitting what I feed it. Lucky for him, other people think that ego shit smells like roses.

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