Cursive Showcased Their Indie Rock Chops Headlining Backstage Bar & Billiards on May 7th, 2023
LAS VEGAS, NV – For those who have never heard of Cursive, the band who made a name for themselves by becoming the cult indie rock icons of Omaha, Nebraska, it’s never too late to jump on the bandwagon and become a fan.
I know that it has been about 18 or so years since I first heard Cursive, and I was almost immediately blown away by the cut-through-the-bullshit music and the untamed vocals of lead singer Tim Kasher.
Through their many releases (albums, EPs, side projects, and even Kasher’s film No Resolution), it becomes increasingly obvious that the band will never be irrelevant, they’ll likely never have a true counterpart, and the music will forever remain timeless as long as people have issues with relationships, paying bills, keeping a job, dealing with loss, and all the other fundamental struggles we as humans have known for centuries to this point.
I have seen Cursive before, and I have never been disappointed…even in shows where they were a support act they were killer. This show was no exception, and as headliner, the audience was treated to a theatrical performance with near flawless execution throughout.
This particular tour was put together in celebration of the band’s seminal album Domestica turning 20 years old (even though that technically happened in 2020, but, you know, Covid happened) - complete with a reissue of the album with updated photos to place the original models in the same poses but 20 years older (pretty clever).
This is the album that really put them on the map, and blew the doors wide open for indie rock musicians and fans in the early 2000’s. Hell, it was probably the reason I started straying away from punk music for about 10 years as I couldn’t get enough of the new wave of indie rock in a post-Sunny Day Real Estate world.
Before I jump into the Cursive performance, I must talk about Neva Dinova the opener as well, because as I recall Tim Kasher mentioning once - I believe in his Patreon account - Neva Dinova was one of the bands that Cursive looked up to back when they were coming up as a band that knew how to be a band essentially.
It was my first time seeing Neva Dinova, but it was definitely right in the wheelhouse of Cursive’s music, and they were a great match even if the styles were not apples-to-apples the same genre.
Neva Dinova has a bit more of a Nashville-indie rock sound mixed with Americana-folk shrouded by swirling guitar riffs, and lead singer Jake Bellows has a naturally smooth and loaded vocal timber that makes it incredibly easy to listen to the songs in any situation.
During this show the band was limited to only two of the active recording band members in Bellows and drummer Roger Lewis though as the band was filled out with Cursive members Megan Sibley on bass for the whole show and lead guitar duties being split by Kasher for the first few songs and then being relieved by Ted Stevens for the remainder of the show.
It was incredibly cool to see the comradery and the seamless flow of the music from the headlining act.
It should come as no surprise to true fans though as Neva Dinova, Bright Eyes, and Cursive (as well as side project The Good Life) have interchanged members over the years and helped each other record, produce or support each other on tours.
It was a great culmination of 20+ years of friendship on display as Neva Dinova reeled through 45 minutes of artful and nostalgic songs that us “older” rock fans (and artists) have come to appreciate not for the way it brings us back to a time when we were young, but because the songs hit harder or differently now with the passage of time as regrets and memories become more difficult to process knowing that there is no way to change the past.
All this to say that Neva Dinova didn’t disappoint by any means, and to have their long-time friends back them up on stage just felt like a family reunion throughout the set.
Cursive came to the stage and warmed up the crowd with the song “Avalanche” which I don’t know if it is a new song or on a release that is not online or what, but I don’t believe I have heard the song.
Then they busted out “Recluse” from Ugly Organ (2003) and “Stranded Satellite” from Get Fixed (2019) before jumping into the entire Domestica album front to back which was when the crowd got really into things.
The entire set was exceptional. The crowd ebbed and flowed with the music and the breaks and sang the screams and the swells as well as an amateur choir can.
The band played some of their greatest hits from various albums over the years such as “Sink to the Beat”, “It’s Gonna Hurt”, “Red-Headed Slight of Hand”, “Art Is Hard” and “Tall Tales Tell Tales” before jumping off stage very briefly for the customary encore.
The encore itself would probably surprise most fans as the first song was “From The Hips” which is a widely popular song of theirs, but the last song of the night was actually a brand new song called “Motherfucker” (or at least that’s what I can assume it is called as the word was used several times during the song…and the set list said “MoFo” on it).
The cool thing about that song was that fact that it actually is a killer closer and would be an equally killer opener too.
I was actually a bit surprised as I know that the song “Staying Alive” has been a very popular closer over the years, and I had assumed it was going to be the last song, but it was nice to see that I never know what to expect with a Cursive show.
All the more reason to get your ass out to see them every single time you can. True artists in every sense of the word.