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Cursive / Orenda Fink / Criteria

Cursive / Orenda Fink / Criteria: live in New Yorklive in New York (2005)
Saddle Creek Records

Reviewer Rating: 4


Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)

I arrived late to Saddle Creek's 2005 CMJ showcase, but just in time to catch the majority of Son, Ambulance's set. The band's lazy indie pop does very little for me on record, but with a ridiculously inebriated front-man in lead singer/guitarist and band mainstay Joe Knapp, I was entertained easily.


I arrived late to Saddle Creek's 2005 CMJ showcase, but just in time to catch the majority of Son, Ambulance's set. The band's lazy indie pop does very little for me on record, but with a ridiculously inebriated front-man in lead singer/guitarist and band mainstay Joe Knapp, I was entertained easily (at least, between songs). Some weren't too bad, notably the song that Knapp promised "would take [us] to a paradise island...where you're like 8...and don't have to worry about...bad shit...or something..." Other choice lines from Knapp included "I don't care what you think about me" and "I know this isn't very...'professional,'" while it was clear he had lost much of his ability to coherently play his guitar, even to the point where he tried to hand it to anyone in the audience willing to play. So, average tunes, above-average banter.

Alabama-based Maria Taylor provided some mid-tempo indie rock with country-ish vocals. It was a bit of a family affair with her brother handling bass and sister on keyboards, and a few friends filling in the left stage guitar and drums. There was a cover of the Flaming Lips' "Do You Realize?" thrown in for good measure. Mr. Oberst, sporting a rather working man's beard, came out to sing for a song, too. Fairly interesting stuff overall.

One of the two bands I had been purposely in attendance for then prepared to bring the rock to the masses. Criteria, fronted by a ridiculoulsy tall front-man in Stephen Pedersen, delivered it thusly, for the most part. It was obvious Criteria had to bring their best material to the set list to impress a crowd otherwise not quite familiar with the band. While single "Prevent The World," "Me On Your Front Porch," and "Good Luck" were by and large standouts despite healthy amounts of energy from the outfit through and through, the set sorely lacked with no inclusion of what could've been a great change of emotion in "This Life," and the band's ultimate anthem, "It Happens." Still, it was clear Pedersen is doing what he loves, and not just using it as a hobby away from his normal attorney work, and it was enjoyable in its own right.

Orenda Fink came on with members of several other Saddle Creek / possibly Team Love bands to play some light, billowy indie pop. She and Taylor normally do full-time in yet another Saddle Creek member, Azure Ray, so in that sense it was somewhat similar, but Fink leaned more towards the pop side of things with heavier dependency on keyboard and piano. Some rather soulful tunes were played, and while it didn't quite fall into my normal listening pattern, I was oddly compelled, maybe due to the rather perfect harmonizing between the members. A cover was played as well, though I'm hard-pressed to remember any lyrics to help look it up.

As every band was playing on the hour, every hour, Cursive FINALLY took the stage at 1:00 in the A.M. You could say it was worth it, though. Lead singer and guitarist Tim Kasher stood to the left of the stage, strangely, and was exuberantly expressive throughout. While the recent departure of cellist Gretta Cohn left the band somewhat incomplete when playing songs off their last proper full-length, 2003's The Ugly Organ, they performed admirably. In fact, the standout of the set was by far and away "A Gentleman Caller," which exploded with its opening chords and Kasher's signature throaty yell of "ya gentleman callerrrr! Well he's been callin' on another!" The second guitar managed to replicate the cello sound perfectly, even in the key parts in "Art Is Hard." They even threw in "Dispenser," which opens their recent singles collection, and was, as Kasher described, one of the first songs they'd ever written as a band; some vague Blink-182 being in the practice space joke was thrown in in a sure reference to the song's more bouncy, poppy vibe than most Cursive material. Three new songs were played as well, presumably off the band's forthcoming LP, due some time in 2006. The first two were both up-tempo and rather jangly, but in a heavy, rocking sort of way, and were way off from what you'd expect from the band. Definitely a bit more accessible than anything in their catalog, and a strange step from Organ, but interesting nonetheless, the last being more slow-paced. It was a great set that proved the band hasn't lost its touch despite the hiatus undergone.

Set list (from the paper and accurate):

  • 1 Pretty Baby
  • 2 Mothership
  • 3 Gentleman
  • 4 Dispenser
  • --------------------
  • 5 Song 1
  • 6 Driftwood
  • 7 Nostalgia
  • 8 Pivotal
  • --------------------
  • 9 Recluse
  • 10 Song 7*
  • 11 Martyr
  • --------------------
  • 12 Art
  • 13 Makin' Friends
  • 14 Song 5
* - I'm assuming this infers the band has at least 7 songs worked on, so far.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
stevejonestherealbones (September 26, 2005)

i think stuff is funny too

- jones the bones

- stevejones8770@yahoo.com

yayforapathy (September 21, 2005)

I think it's funny how people were saying that Criteria's song "Prevent The World" was about their hatred towards Cursive, and then they tour with the band. I would have loved to see this tour.

Anonymous (September 21, 2005)

Hey Scott, I would have come and said hi, but I was on the left side of the stage and I wanted to be able to hold onto my spot for Cursive. Plus, that was the side I knew Tim would set up on. Luckily, we didn't have any problems with the speakers over there....

I actually intended to say hi before I left, but I didn't see Captain Crunch around...that's probably because I went right to the back to get a water. I was dying in that crowd.

Still, The Firehouse is a pretty awesome place, and I managed to see Enon and Thunderbirds are Now! there over the summer. Luckily I only live about 30 minutes away, so I can see shows there pretty often.

You're right though, it is awesome a lot of people who had not heard Cursive got to check them out.

I wish the set would have been longer though...

Jim

maverick (September 21, 2005)

"You were the one with the punknews.org shirt I would reckon?"

Actually, that was CaptainCrunch in the PNO shirt; I was the bearded guy with the Braid shirt on next to him. You should've come over and said hi!

"As for the crowd....well, I honestly don't think most of those kids had ever heard a Cursive song in their life. I mean, there were people standing around with their arms crossed everywhere not making a single movement. It's like people heard it was important, so they came. When Cursive played, I'm not sure most of the crowd was aware that was why the place was so packed. The crowd sucked, but what do you expect when half of them are wearing ICP hats and Slipknot shirts. Not really the right crowd for a Cursive show if you ask me..."

Yeah, I would totally agree with this. All the people initially in line before doors opened seemed to be "real" fans or whatever; everyone who trickled in as the night went on seemed to be the kids in town with nothing else to do. So yeah, the crowd was pretty lame; on the flipside, if seeing Cursive got them checking out different kinds of music, then I'm all for it. I wish I got to see a band as important and all-around good as Cursive when I was 14.

"Still, I thought the vocals were perfect and couldn't have been any more audible. Actually, I don't think I have ever been to a show were the vocals were so crisp and clear...even when the music was at its loudest."

Agreed, but the right speaker stack kept on cutting out throughout their set for 10-15 seconds here and there. It was weird. Otherwise, the dude running the PA did a great job of making everything sound quite good.

-Scott

Anonymous (September 20, 2005)

"Last night, Tim was either drunk or in a very, very bizarre mood from the "Flippy And Hambone" tag, as he was just... weird all night long. There was very little energy from the band onstage, and the crowd, being over 250 in size, was remarkably tame, as well -- there was barely even any singing along, let alone actual movement."

You were the one with the punknews.org shirt I would reckon? Well, this is only the second time I've seen 'em but I thought they were great. Tim's "Flippie and Hambone" jokes were....strange to say the least, but he seemed to be diggin it...

As for the crowd....well, I honestly don't think most of those kids had ever heard a Cursive song in their life. I mean, there were people standing around with their arms crossed everywhere not making a single movement. It's like people heard it was important, so they came. When Cursive played, I'm not sure most of the crowd was aware that was why the place was so packed. The crowd sucked, but what do you expect when half of them are wearing ICP hats and Slipknot shirts. Not really the right crowd for a Cursive show if you ask me...

Still, I thought the vocals were perfect and couldn't have been any more audible. Actually, I don't think I have ever been to a show were the vocals were so crisp and clear...even when the music was at its loudest.

Plus, I thought the band was really into it. And the drumming was HUGE! I hated the crowd, but what can you do? I sang along anyway, and had a great time in the process. The kids have no idea what they were missing (even though they were there...if you know what I mean).

Jim

kenjamin (September 20, 2005)

Oh God damnit! I thought Scott responded with that comment. I don't care about your sex life Will!

kenjamin (September 20, 2005)

Now I'm being completely serious, does having a job at Alternative Press get you laid? Now i'm not asking if you tell intoxicated that you work at AP to get in their pants. I'm asking if girls/bands try to seduce you because of your position?

For whatever reason I have really attractive female friends as well but none of them would sleep with me in a million years. Well maybe if i had that long of a time.

Anonymous (September 20, 2005)

I have friends to do. Sexy-assed bitch-friends.

-Will

kenjamin (September 20, 2005)

3.5 hours for a Cursive show? Christ, don't you have friends/things to do?

maverick (September 20, 2005)

I was at that North Manchester show, too, and was completely underwhelmed. I had seen Cursive 4 times prior to last night, and they were better each and every time. Last night, Tim was either drunk or in a very, very bizarre mood from the "Flippy And Hambone" tag, as he was just... weird all night long. There was very little energy from the band onstage, and the crowd, being over 250 in size, was remarkably tame, as well -- there was barely even any singing along, let alone actual movement.

I was unimpressed with the new material, as well, and could barely tell the difference between the new songs and the songs off the singles collection (most of which are mediocre). If you're gonna play stuff off that album, at least play "Sucker And Dry" or something, sheesh!

The setlist also looks virtually identical to the N. Manchester show.

Overall, as much as I love Cursive, I was really let down at this show, and regret driving three and a half hours down to it.

-Scott

Anonymous (September 20, 2005)

Anyone see Flippie and Hambone last night in North Manchester, IN? That's gotta be the best Cursive cover band ever. They even looked exactly like the real guys. Bizarre!

okay, I'm joking, but anyway...the setlist looked about exactly the same. The cello didn't seem missed at all. These guys made it sound perfect. I still can't believe so many people showed up last night that they had to turn some away. In North Manchester of all places. Thank you Cursive, what a night!

Jim

inagreendase (September 20, 2005)

How can the new songs be more accessible if they haven't been released yet?

I don't think you quite got the context I'm using it in. Not accesible as in the band wallpapered their site with MP3 links and Flash players of them; accessible as in, it's easier to see a larger audience take to the songs because of their melodies/simplicity/etc.

fritobandito (September 20, 2005)

swear to god, Dispenser actually reminds me of a Millencolin song. don't ask me why.

I wanna see Cursive again so bad. They're easily one of my favorite bands ever. Which I guess explains the Ugly Organ tattoo around my calf.

Anonymous (September 20, 2005)

How can the new songs be more accessible if they haven't been released yet?

Anonymous (September 20, 2005)

i saw cursive and the blood brothers at the bowery a few years back when they were touring the ugly organ and burn piano island burn and it was fantastic. not really applicable to what's being talked about here..but fuck it.
-TOBB

jheisel (September 20, 2005)

Although their new songs are good too, it is so weak that they don't play anything off their first two records. Oh well, at least they did when they played in my house. And Kasher played the Rhyme Scheme for me when he played an acoustic show here in Moscow, so I guess there is some justice in the universe.

Archangel (September 20, 2005)

They played Mothership? And Nostalgia? Holy shit, I'm jealous. Score is for Cursive.

Anonymous (September 20, 2005)

I have seen Cursive before and they were so=so. Why does every push these guys as being gods.

colin (September 20, 2005)

i would have absolutely loved to see this show. criteria is getting one of the year end top honors in my book, and tim kasher can't really go wrong.

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