Although Minus the Bear and Cursive are entirely different bands sonically speaking, the two share a lot of space on the indie-rock Venn diagram. They share a timeline of success that picked up in the early aughts, they both have recognizable sounds, and they both have pretty flawless discographies (at least according to me). Considering how consistent both bands have been over the years, the shared bill at Revolution in Fort Lauderdale promised a great time.
The punk-infused rock band Girl in a Coma, a Texas trio discovered by Joan Jett, opened the show with an energetic performance that toed the line between the more punk side of Jett’s work and loosely defined rock band. Lead singer and guitarist Nina Diaz’s riot-grrrl-meets-Morrissey vocals certainly caught a few people’s attention, like tourmate and Cursive figurehead, Tim Kasher, who we eyed enjoying the band’s set from one of the VIP booths.
We next saw Kasher when he was stalking about the stage, leading his band of Omaha-bred indie-rockers through a dynamic set that spanned the group’s musical history. Much of Cursive’s lyrical content centers around Kasher’s hearty disdain for religion, specifically Christianity. So it’s ironic when the man’s delivery feels eerily similar to that of a fire-eyed Pentecostal preacher. Take the dissonant dirge of “Big Bang,” for instance, which last night saw Kasher’s hollering about the nature of the universe rise to a decibel above the abrasive blasts of guitar and trumpet.
Kasher’s stage presence took on various states, in fact: drunken troubadour, jilted lover, man possessed. Pertaining to the latter, as the audience shouted the lyrics of “A Gentleman Caller,” from the popular LP, The Ugly Organ, Kasher howled and interrupted himself, seeming a bit crazed. But the level of madness always fit the song.
Cursive’s performance proved more cathartic than crazed, though; the emotion found on records was present live, which can become increasingly difficult after this many years as a band. Tracks from Mama, I’m Swollen brought forth some of the loudest bouts of audience participation, but the biggest highlights came during the drawn-out and intimate performance of “The Recluse,” and the shout-along during “Art is Hard.”
Seattle’s Minus the Bear proceeded to clean up the emotional puddle Cursive left behind with a lengthy set of its groove-oriented indie-pop. The crowd, which had swelled at this point, danced and hopped around to “Steel and Blood,” the opening track from the band’s most recent full-length release, Infinity Overhead. Although this was the first tour in support of that record, the audience knew the lyrics of the new songs well. Still, the group made sure to throw in plenty of choice selections from past records into the set. They also dropped some of their signature sexy grooves, resulting in a considerable, not-so-decent amount of audience PDA going on inside of Revolution.
The best-received moments of the night coincided with songs from the band’s debut full-length, 2002’s Highly Refined Pirates. Jake Snider’s velveteen croon and Dave Knudson’s intricate pedal-stomping and guitar-tapping on “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse” had guitar fans staring blankly at the former Botch guitarist’s fretboard – that is if they weren’t too busy dancing. Then the crescendo of “Get Me Naked 2: The Electric Boogaloo” helped the party reach a veritable fever pitch of dancing and singing. But the absolute highlight of the night came during the stone-cold shaker “My Time,” during which latex balls assaulted the audience in a barrage of visually distracting fun. The bouncing orbs released clouds of confetti over the heads of audience members when popped, and provided a memorable moment/eye candy to go with the tune. An encore of favorites, particularly closer “Pachuca Sunrise,” capped a great night, when most the confetti had hit the floor.
–By David von Bader