As Cursive took the stage Wednesday night, the sold-out Bowery Ballroom pulsed with eerie sound effects, transforming it into a living, breathing haunted house. Enigmatic frontman Tim Kasher kneeled to toy with the reverb, tweaking echos and prolonging notes to ease the crowd into “This House Alive,” the first song off new release I Am Gemini.
For those of you unfamiliar with it, Cursive’s newest effort tells the tale of a struggle between newly reunited good and evil twin brothers. The liner notes are written as a libretto, complete with stage direction, a full cast of characters and an intricate plot extending from track one to the finish. Appropriately, Kasher’s theatrics when performing songs from I Am Gemini were noticeably amplified. Lively romp “Cat And Mouse” was accented by exaggerated facial expressions and wacky vocals steeped in character. Kasher’s playful approach to “Drunken Birds” was similarly embellished.
Although songs from I Am Gemini were sprinkled in with a heavy hand, the night saw a decent amount of old favorites. Cursive made sure to stack the setlist with old-school crowd-pleasers like “Gentleman Caller” off of 2003’s The Ugly Organ and “The Martyr” from 2000’s Domestica, Kasher belting out the high notes. A slowed, dreamy version of “The Recluse” charmed showgoers, and “We’re Going To Hell,” prefaced by Kasher’s comments, “This one’s weird…lull you all to sleep and then take all your souls,” amped them up.
The onstage banter was kept to a minimum, except for a quick foray into Kasher’s day in New York: He went to see a horror flick. According to Kasher, “The scariest part was that it was just me and my popcorn and my soda, and some weird lurker man sat like two rows behind me.” When the credits rolled, the “lurker” was nowhere to be found.
On a totally non-scary, non-scarring note, the night ended with a particularly fun encore. Kasher climbed up on an amp, and “Art Is Hard” was melded with TLC’s “No Scrubs.” And, as the show started with the first song of I Am Gemini, it ended with the last, “Eulogy For No Name.”