Seeing Cursive perform its seminal 2003 record, The Ugly Organ, in its entirety is a dream come true for most fans. The album arguably is the band's best work (with Domestica coming in a close second), and The Ugly Organ is the last record to feature cellist Gretta Cohn. The lack of cello changed Cursive's sound a bit, but Monday night's show was like traveling back in time, thanks to an appearance from Ellen Lind on cello.
The concert was special and full of surprises. I expected Cursive to play The Ugly Organ front to back with a couple of additional songs for an encore, but I was wrong. The band opened with "Sink to the Beat," from 2001's Burst and Bloom EP and transitioned into "Big Bang," seamlessly uniting the band's old and new sound.
These two songs were merely a warmup, as the carnival sounds of "The Ugly Organist" kicked off the first four songs of The Ugly Organ. "Some Red Handed Sleight of Hand" and "Art is Hard" roused a select portion of the audience closest to the stage. Said fans cooled down a bit during a slowed down rendition of "The Recluse," triggering the band's next departure from The Ugly Organ.
Rather than performing the album in subsequent order, Cursive performed a maximum of four Ugly Organ songs punctuated by other material. The first break included "This House Alive," from the band's most recent record, I Am Gemini.
Songs like "Butcher the Song," "Driftwood: A Fairy Tale," and "A Gentleman Caller" sounded nothing short of incredible thanks to Lind's contributions. Her vocals subtly rounded out "The Recluse," and her cello made Cursive sound fuller and more rounded out.
Cursive's main set closed out with "Bloody Murderer," "Nonsense," which is included on The Ugly Organ reissue, but not the initial release, and Domestica's "The Martyr." The crowd screamed along and demanded the band's return for a two-song encore, completing The Ugly Organ.
The band closed with "Staying Alive," wrapping things up with an extended loop of noise and repetitions of "the worst is over," echoing the lyrics of "A Gentleman Caller." Once the loop ended, the lights came up and the house music played "Staying Alive" by the Bee Gees and "Everything is Awesome" from The Lego Movie, which was a weird juxtaposition from the concert, but entertaining nonetheless.
Visit the next page for Critic's Notebook and shots of the crowd in attendance at the Cursive concert.
Last Night: Cursive at Crescent Ballroom.
The Crowd: The same 30-somethings I've seen at every other Cursive show. It was a 16-and-over concert, yet there was plenty of space in the all-ages section.
Overheard in the Crowd: "That was the best Cursive show I've seen in Phoenix" from my pal from Omaha (Cursive's hometown), who has seen the band dozens of times.
Bonus quote on my way to the car: "I'm shaken by how awesome that was."
Correction: This article previous stated cellist Gretta Cohn performed with the band Monday night. It was Ellen Lind.
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