Show Preview: Cursive @ Mohawk (5.12)

I feel like a majority of the people that stumble upon this site had a period in their life when they were so heavily into music that it accompanied them everywhere. For me, 1997-2004, it was my main companion. Walking to class, walking to work, driving in my car on long road trips…no matter where I went, there was something playing; I honestly cared more about music than most of my relationships at that time. And, a huge part of those years was the Saddle Creek discography, particularly Bright Eyes and Cursive. Well, this Friday, Cursive is coming to Austin and the Mohawk to play the entirety of their 2000 classic, Domestica. So, in anticipation, I wanted to do a track by track breakdown, 23 years down the road from when I first listened. If you haven’t gotten your ticket; you can grab them HERE.

The Casualty – I can still remember this opening riff. It’s so sharp and almost 90s metal, right before it cuts into those angular notes and then opens up as Tim Kasher enters. I loved, and still do, the juxtaposed vocals, with the verses working in this calm cool, only to be shattered by this menacing bite in the chorus. There’s this brilliant moment at 2:47, where you get this little breakdown, where the guitar notes stab in, then fade, leading perfectly right into the next track.

The Martyr – This song is all about the rise and fall. Guitars spin up, then crash down. The vocals soar, then fall back. It’s completely disorienting in the best way, and Kasher’s range is so perfect, particularly when the lines “cast down by an angel” are uttered, making way for the catharsis of the chorus. I love the stuttering riffs of the chorus, grabbing at the listener and rushing us towards the screaming “martyr.” But, to this day, the climactic lead in to the 2:52 scream of “your tears are only alibis” still haunts my listening habits; I love the last minute of this tune, and that will never ever change.

Shallow Means, Deep Ends – There’s some creaky percussive elements that work their way into the opening moments, waiting for the guitars to open the song up; Tim does his part, pushing the vocals, all before the band teases with a false chorus as the song continues to snake its way around. When that chorus does hit, it comes across a little harsh, and while it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, it definitely pulled on my post-hardcore heartstrings. Still, the moment that sticks out the most of the entirety of this LP is lurking at 2:19. If this song comes on while I’m mowing the yard, the entire neighborhood can hear me scream out “swimming at night/we finally hit/hit/we finally hit bottom.” It’s a thunderous close that I know likely had me playing the meanest air guitar as I walked around campus.

Making Friends and Acquaintances – This might be the song that really got me into all of Tim Kasher’s other projects. He presents this other side that seems like a palate cleanser amidst the sharper edges of the first three tracks. It amazes me that even 23 years later I can still remember exact lines like “still I can hear those dirty birds chirp away.” That cathartic crash at 2:03 also still rings true for me; I forgot just how anthemic and singalong ready early Cursive tracks were!

A Red So Deep – If ever a Cursive teased you with the ominous then pulled back, it was this one. I mean, it feels so dangerous, then the guitars move into this feel like they’re unwound springs; this song is all about those little slight movements. Kasher leads the group in and out, the drums almost marching the listener forward. You end up in this moment that definitely seems influenced by the likes of early Fugazi; it gave all of us kids that edginess we wanted to show off to all our friends. Yet, then the track pulls back and almost trickles to a slow crawl behind dragging guitar notes and Kasher’s waning voice, all before blowing back with those meandering guitar lines closing the show.

The Lament of Pretty Baby – God, I love this tune so much. That beautiful momentary change when we hit the “oh darling sister/have they hurt you” changes the song’s direction, albeit briefly. I love the way the band moves back and forth between quieted whispers that pull your ears close, only to hit you with a punctuated burst of noise that immediately makes you rush to turn down the volume. A little crashing drum solo lets the song twist and turn to its dramatic close; I feel like this tune is its own movie; there’s something in the storytelling where you really feel invested in the storytelling.

The Game of Who Needs Who the Worst – Typically, I can pass on a 1 minute instrumental opening, but it feels like its part of the story of this song. It’s like you’re a voyeur, watching as it all unfolds, with the vocals hinting that things have gone from good to awful. When Kasher utters “so fucking triumphant” the band takes you on the rising action, but there’s a blip, as you don’t actually get to the pinnacle, dropping you back where you began to climb again with these thundering bits of distortion. It all fades away with Tim almost whispering for us, or a jilted lover, to come just a little bit closer; it feels like a trap in a very strange way.

The Radiator Hums – If, like me, you were jamming to a lot of that Saddle Creek stuff around this time, the opening 30 seconds definitely felt like you were right in Omaha watching all the bands. But, that drop in at 1:12 feels like all that was great about 90s emo; it’s a pure scream along moment where 18 year old me would have punched the air and screamed along. The second bit of that even gets this perfect call and response to it that I just adore; this song is brilliant, though admittedly, maybe feels

The Night I Lost the Will to Fight – Okay, so I went back through this song multiple times; it’s the one song that maybe felt a bit out of sorts with the whole of the record. That is until the closing moments where it finally feels like its the culmination of all the emotion that Kasher built into this record. As he screams “I lost the will to fight,” you feel like the whole album was a cathartic release, and Tim can finally let go.

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