It is impossible for me to describe just how incredible this show was to anyone who does not love Cursive or was not at the show itself, but I have seen over 200 bands live and Cursive, July 5th, was the best I have ever witnessed.
But I'm not going to get ahead of myself.
I had been under the impression that the Canopy Club, in the college town of Urbana, Illinois, was a larger venue and would be packed, however we arrived half an hour after doors and were able to walk in without waiting in line. I also noticed there were hardly any people standing by the stage, which was without the standard barricade and security, so I marched right up and took up some real estate front and center.
The first band to come out was Little Brazil. I had never heard of them, but I was certainly glad I had arrived early enough to witness their show. This Omaha four-piece has some strong Saddle Creek ties, with members of the Good Life, Desaparecidos and Son, Ambulance, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them signed to the label in the future. They had great stage presenece and what was there so far of the crowd loved it. I personally was involved with the dancing.
After Little Brazil finished I had a chance to check out the merch and sadly Cursive only had two shirt designs that were both pretty plain, so I saved some money there.
Next up was Chicago natives, Make Believe. The Kinsellas are kind of a legendary family in the Chicago indie music scene and it is no wonder why. They just keep making new bands and new interesting music. Tim has great stage presence and gets the crowd involved in different ways. Instead of getting people to clap, he knocks a mic stand into the crowd. Instead of asking for a circle pit, he just asks for a cigarette. Instead of handing the mic around, he just loops the cord around people's neck and then walks away, pulling them with. He kinda seems goofy, but at the same time it helped to break down the barrier between fan and band. Of course, their music isn't really the kind you clap, or mosh, or even dance to. Unfortunately, they didn't receive as friendly a reception as Little Brazil. Tim was jeered a bit and someone threw a beer at him at one point, succeeding only in soaking a good chunk of the crowd. I was really disappointed to hear people shit-talking such a talented and interesting band. I mean…Nate Kinsella plays drums AND a wurlitzer…at the same time.
By this time I was pretty much sober, but still ready to rock out. All night we had been predicting the set list, especially the opener. More than anything I was hoping they would open with "Big Bang." Although there had been some dancing, it seemed like most of the crowd was going to adopt the crossed arms pose, but luckily there was a sizable chunk around us who were ready to give everything to Tim, Matt, Clint, and Ted.
I wasn't really paying attention at first during the setup, except to note that there were mics with plastic shields so there would be horns. All of the sudden I hear someone in the crowd exclaim something along the lines of "THERE IS A FUCKING CELLO ON THE FUCKING STAGE." Yep, no Gretta, but there was a female cellist there. Can it get any better? Cursive with a three-piece horn section, slide guitar, and a cello.
When describing my favorite shows, the imagery that usually comes up is that of everyone dancing, with kids piled on each other's backs and screaming every word. That's exactly how this show was. And of all the songs Cursive could have opened with, they picked the best possible one: "Big Bang." As soon as the first notes of the song hit there was no going back. Everyone went nuts, singing every word along with Tim.
They ripped through a set that was about 16 songs long, but Tim still spent a fair amount of time talking. After "Dorothy at 40," someone exclaimed that dreams do come true and Tim talked about how he used to be waiting tables and could never imagined being where he is today. He also talked a bit about Domestica and how strange it is that they have to consider it an "old" album and can no longer play nearly as much off of it as they used to, however they covered most of its high points. It is still tied as my favorite album of theirs.
As the set went on, everyone kept getting more and more into it. There were even a few crowdsurfers, one of which actually made it to the stage, which prompted security to appear for the first time to stand at the corners.
Tim explained that they were going to walk off the stage, have a shot, and if we cheered a bit they'd play some more. It all went according to plan, though I don't know if he was serious about the shot. "A Gentleman Caller," and the show, ended with Tim reaching out, and holding onto a boy's hand, who was being held above the crowd, as the song died. It seemed epic at the time, although the moment that will stick out in my mind the most is "Sink to the Beat," dancing with everyone and everyone in the building screaming "LET IT BURST AND BLOOM!"
Here is the set list. It's not in order, but I think I have everything:
- Big Bang (opener)
- The Martyr
- The Radiator Hums
- Sink to the Beat
- Bad Sects
- Dorothy at 40
- Dorothy Dreams of Tornados
- Flag and Family
- The Bitter End
- Eight Light Minutes
- Butcher the Song
- The Recluse
- Art Is Hard
- Some Red-Handed Sleight of Hand
- The Lament of Pretty Baby
- A Gentleman Caller (Closer)