SXSW Preview: Cursive, Black Lips rock Brooklyn

11 03 2009

It’s notoriously difficult to get crowds worked up in New York City, what with hipper-than-thou NYU kids and grizzled music biz veterans squeezing into venues to see the new “it” band and apathetically sip on $8 Stellas all night long. So it was a refreshing change of pace to see actual music fans lose their shit two nights in a row at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg for pre-SXSW sets from Nebraska rockers Cursive (with whom we’ll be chatting in Austin) and the Atlanta, Ga., awesome mess known as Black Lips.


Full disclosure: This blogger is from Nebraska, where we grew up alongside Saddle Creek’s roster, damning the whiney warble of Conor Oberst and reveling in Cursive’s hard-rock power. “Domestica” was listened to on a daily basis throughout 2001. A few tears may or may not have surfaced upon meeting Tim Kasher at age 17. So, this write-up is a little biased. But at least we’re all on the same page now.

In any case, Cursive kicked off its tour behind the March 10-released “Mama, I’m Swollen” to a sold-out crowd of pumped up, black-clad kids ready to hang on Kasher’s every word. It was a little strange, as this is not a usual occurence in Williamsburg, but it took us back to our high school days (where we’d park it stage right for the best view) and reminded us why we loved Cursive in the first place.

For those not hardcore Cursive fans, the set was lacking a certain something, namely the added instrumentation of the group’s past tours to really bring its back catalog to life. Sure, a trumpet popped in from time to time, but songs like “A Gentleman Caller” and “Big Bang” were just screaming for cello and a horn section.

Speaking of screaming, Kasher’s yelp proceeded to get wilder and drunker as the set progressed, and we gotta admit, we’re excited to see what will go down in Austin. The new tunes sounded tops (particularly “From the Hips” and “I Couldn’t Love You”), so look for it to be one big guitar-fueled party.

Night two at Music Hall was an even bigger raucous mess for Black Lips, where everyone (present company included) was too drunk to really care about what was going on except to jam out. We’ve ranted before about how it’s annoying to watch fans get extra f*ed up because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do at these kinds of shows, so we’ll spare you a repeat. In any case, the night devolved into some sort of beer-soaked stage party, and, well, whatever, we were really out of it too (nowhere near the stage, mind you) so a good time was had by all. We look for them to REALLY tear shit up in Texas, and we’ll be ready. Bring it on!




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