Tim Kasher’s left lung collapsed in 2002. Not that it’s a secret, but it sure is a shock. The 34-year-old vocalist and lead guitarist of Cursive doesn’t go easy on his lungs (or any part of his body, for that matter) in a live show. His cathartic, gravelly style of singing is the voice of dreams and nightmares, a throbbing pulse of energy that explodes in all directions.
His effect on the crowd was chilling last night. In addition to the quality of his voice, he stunned his loyal audience of hard-ass dudes (and a few girlfriends sprinkled here and there) with thoughtful prose. In “From the Hips,” he transformed the mundane details of everyday life into art. “We're all just trying to play our roles/in a play that runs ad nauseum,” Kasher crooned to a background of clean, hi-hat heavy drums, warm basslines, and rich trumpet playing.
Other set highlights included “The Great Decay,” where the four members of Cursive acted as puppeteers of a crowd that looked like it suffered from group exposure to rabies. Every time the Omaha, Nebraska-based band paused or altered the time signature, the audience moved together in perfect synch with the change. An experimental guitar/drum solo in “Art is Hard” ended with a full-fledged anthemic chorus.
Toward the end of the set, Kasher hoo-oohed up to the next octave, displaying his talent for reaching high notes while avoiding the awkwardness that typically goes along with falsetto singing. As reparation, he juxtaposed the high-pitched chirping with cathartic yelling.
Cursive was focused and on-spot, composed and gripping. Kasher, though, was the captain of the ship. He led the band in the right direction, provided his support, and continued to master his art.