Cursive, The Blood Brothers AND Criteria . . . what more could I ask for? All three of these bands have released albums this year that have cemented a position in my top ten list for 2003, and to have them play together here in Seattle; needless to say I was stoked. Cursive was actually playing two shows that night. This was the earlier all ages show, the later show, 21 , was to be played with The Jealous Sound, and Seattle's natives, The Divorce. Although I love The Jealous Sound, there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to see Criteria.
Since two shows were scheduled for the night, Criteria had to start extra early. I made sure to be there as soon as I could, in order to not miss any of their set. For those of you who are not familiar with Criteria, they are a new band headed by Stephen Pederson, former guitarist of Cursive and founder of The White Octave (for a more complete history head on over to the Criteria website). With those two bands under his belt, it is obvious you are dealing with an pretty talented musician. Criteria's live performance was incredible. Stephen's emotions on stage are indescribable. Since I have loved their album En Garde since I picked it up, but after seeing their live show, my love has grown exponentially. The live versions of their songs have me listening to the album in a different way. Once you experience Criteria, you will understand. My favorites of the night included The Coincidence, and their closing song, Play on Words.
Seattle's boys, The Blood Brothers were next. Before I left for school I was able to catch this show when it came through Chicago. Instead of Criteria opening, Murder By Death and Eastern Youth shared the bill. I have to say, I think that the Blood Brothers sounded better in Chicago. There is no doubt the energy was present. Kids were crowd surfing and stage diving left and right. Maybe it was the sound in the Graceland, or maybe the Blood Brother were just having an off night. Standing on the side, it seemed as though their fans thought them perfect. Once they took the stage, the dancing did not stop until after their encore. The majority of their set consisted of songs off their most recent release, Burn Piano Island, Burn. Watching the Blood Brothers on stage, I found myself mesmerized by their drummer, Mark Gajadhar- very talented, and very entertaining to watch. Overall the Blood Brothers were good, but not great.
Now it's time for Cursive. For those of you who frequent this site, it is not a mystery that Cursive is one of my favorite bands. Actually I have been lucky enough to see them about six times in the past year. I guess it is just being in the right place and the right time. But Friday night at the Graceland, marks one of the best performances I have seen by this band. Although there was no set change between their Seattle and Chicago shows, their Seattle performance out did the Chicago one by far. Everything was completely on. From vocals to instrumentals, I can find nothing to critique. The band's long and innovative interludes kept the audience on their toes, ready to hear the first familiar chords and begin singing along. They opened with Sierra which quickly lead into The Martyr. Once Cursive had finished their first eleven songs, they left the stage only to return with a three song encore. The second song of their encore was The Casualty off of my personal favorite album, Domestica. Tim was accompanied on vocals with Jordan and Johnny of the Blood Brothers. Their trademark screaming and thrash dancing was a nice twist to the more mellow Cursive stage presence.
Cursive is on the home stretch of their second tour in support of The Ugly Organ. If they are playing close to you go to the show, it will be well worth your time a money.
Cursive's Set List:
Excerpts from Various Notes Strewn Around the Bedroom of April Connolly February 24, 1997
Sink to the Beat
Driftwood: A Fairy Tale
The Lament of Pretty Baby
A Little Song and Dance
A song off their first 7in (I think the title is Sucker and Dry, but I may be mistaken)
Butcher the Song
Art is Hard
Some Red Handed Sleight of Hand
A Gentleman Caller