An Afterparty with Cursive
Kicking off the North American leg of their tour, Cursive headlined the after-party for Chicago’s Wicker Park Festival on Friday July 27 at Subterranean. Everyone seemed to hold a smile and a cold beer, except the several younger under-21 audience members sprinkled throughout the venue, with bold black X’s marked across their hands and an eagerness in their faces as they inched their way toward the stage.
The opening acts represented the strongest forces of the Cursive power, intensity and emotion. Local band The Sky We Scrape was up first, giving off a heavy punk and hardcore sound with high-powered energy. Hospital Ships followed with softer, melodic songs as the singer crooned with high, pop-driven vocals. The rawness of the first band and the sensitivity of the second set the tone for the rest of the evening.
The place was packed. With the stage set, and the crowd waiting, it steadily got quieter as a buzz of anticipation filled the overheating room. Finally, Tim Kasher walked across the stage along with the rest of Cursive and said a little “Well, well, well…” into the mic before he gave a coy smile to the faces beaming at him as they cheered, and then he started the show. Opening with “Drunken Birds” from the newly released I Am Gemini, Kasher shook his head and pointed at the crowd as if to say “Listen up.” It was obvious that the crowd was made up of committed fans, as they pointed right back at their singer/storyteller, singing along to every word.
The band mixed the set list up with a couple songs from each of their last 5 albums. Songs like “The Lament of Pretty Baby” from Domestica and “Big Bang” from Happy Hollow seemed to get the most enthusiasm and sing-alongs, but new ones like “The Sun and Moon” got plenty of heads and feet moving and shaking. A mix of keys, horns, and intense instrumental sections gave the set some interesting dynamics, while also keeping it fun and danceable for the audience and the band. It was a place of good vibes, with big tattooed dudes and dainty teenage girls all sharing the same energy and raising their fists in the air.
Perhaps the camaraderie was too much even for Kasher, since he paused between songs at one point to say, “It’s hot up here. We gotta have some disorder or something,” and then the band ripped into “The Casualty” from Domestica, with plenty of pauses for the audience to happily yell the lyrics back at the band.
After playing for over an hour, the band slowly walked offstage before returning for an all too expected encore of three songs: “Sierra,” “The Great Decay,” and “From the Hips.” Everyone knew it was all coming to an end, so the singing seemed to get louder and the dancing more sloppy. Couples got closer, beer bottles clanked together in a moment of “Cheers!” and one lucky girl even got a few twirls and dips from her man as they danced. Throughout the show, Kasher and the rest of Cursive would look out proudly as the people sang and danced to the music being played, and the crowd looked back at the band in the same proud way. There was a sense of comfortable intimacy in the room, as if you had suddenly joined in on a friendship, a family. The music of Cursive is so heavily based on storytelling, and while the albums themselves effectively tell the tale, there’s nothing like getting out of the house, standing in front of the band, and becoming a part of the story.
Cursive will play again in Chicago at the Wicker Park Festival Saturday July 28 before they continue their tour into Canada and then move on to a U.S. tour with Minus the Bear.