Monday, January 3, 2011

Show review: Cursive, Yourself and the Air at Subterranean, 12/31

Posted by Andrew

New Year’s Eve is the greatest by-product of a globalized society. It is essentially a worldwide celebration, each different country and culture finding their own unique way to break in the new year. So to transition from 2010 to 2011, I found myself in the middle of our city’s already crazy Six Corners intersection to see Cursive perform Domestica in its entirety at the Subterranean on Friday.

Opening for Cursive was Chicago’s own Yourself and the Air. The three-piece create a complex array of sounds, following the outline laid down by '90s indie stalwarts coupled with a danceable energy. Live, the band breathes vivacious life into their recordings. In accordance with the band they’re most often compared to, their cover of Modest Mouse’s "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes" garnered the biggest crowd response, but it was original song "So You’ve Come to Mingle" that was the show highlight. Since the band took the latter half of 2010 on hiatus, let’s hope 2011 means more and more from Yourself and the Air.

I’ll just get my bias out of the way here. Cursive is one of the only bands still around that consistently puts out new albums, evolving their sound while retaining their own musical identity. And if I were to don my Rob Gordon shoes and tell you my Top 5 all-time favorite records, Domestica would be in there. So needless to say, I was excited for this show, to the point where I was risking a huge letdown. But no such disappointment occurred. The band went on at a quarter to midnight, opening with "Dorothy at Forty," "The Great Decay" and "I Couldn’t Love You" before taking a break to countdown to 2011. After that formality, frontman Tim Kasher suggested “Let’s get depressed.” And so the dissonant opening to "The Martyr" began. From there, the band played as if they had only recorded the album a month ago as opposed to 10 years. If the album has a flaw, it's in the brevity of its contents. But perhaps more than the nine songs in 32 minutes would be just too overwhelming for both audience and performer. However, the short set did allow for an eight-song encore of post Domestica material (full setlist here). Highlights included a raucous "From the Hips," a self-conscious "Art is Hard," and the ton of bricks epic "Staying Alive" to close out the night.

There couldn’t have been a better album for my first experience of a live straight-through rendition than Domestica. As illusory as my musical identity is, this is one album that’s stuck around. And even if I go months without listening to it, it’s a safety net I always come back to. To see it played live brought new meaning to an already powerful creation. Resolutions be damned; more nights like this is all I need to force myself to do.

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