Story and Photos: Spencer Fleming
Wow, I'm still floating from last night's (5/16) sold out Cursive show. If you snoozed and missed out on tickets, I openly weep for you. Cursive is on tour celebrating 20 years of their ground breaking album Domestica and with only a few shows left they hit their home town of Omaha, playing to a sold out room of friends, family, and rabid fans, myself included.
I have a long history with Cursive. I got into them when they released The Ugly Organ. I saw them at Sokol Auditorium (now the Admiral), and from there I was hooked. I quickly went back and purchased Domestica, then The Storms of Early Summer and Such Blinding Stars for Starving Eyes. I saw them every chance I got mostly at Sokol Auditorium, but one time Cursive played back to back shows at Sokol Underground for only $2!
My brothers and I went to Homer's downtown and bought a bunch of tickets so we could take all our friends. Unfortunately they weren't hard back tickets, they just printed them off an ink-jet printer via E-tix. At one point we jammed up the printer and the guy working got kinda mad. Sorry Homer's dude! It was an awesome show though. Cursive randomly played some Cyndi Lauper songs in the middle of their set including "Time After Time" and "She-Bop". Check out this photo from that show taken on a Kodak wind-up camera. It was super dark so when the flash went off Tim blinked, haha.
One more side story and then it's on to last night's show. When my wife Virginia (pictured above) and I went to buy our last house in 2021 we found a place we really liked and it backed up to an Omaha library/elementary school. In the kitchen there was a picture of Cursive, but it wasn't from a magazine or a professional photo. It was like a family friend took it. So either the home owners were related to Cursive or friends of Cursive, or maybe in the band! We told our agent to write in the offer that we want the home owners to leave the Cursive photo hanging in the kitchen thinking they would think we're cool and choose our offer. Unfortunately we didn't get the house, but how random, right?
Alright back to our regularly scheduled programming. I got to the venue and to my surprise there wasn't a line when the doors opened. Most of the middle-aged working crowd was probably just getting done with dinner and prepping their babysitter for a night out. I made my way to the merch table to look at all the fantastic goods for sale. I was torn between the Domestica re-master and the tour poster. I already have an original pressing of Domestica, but my kids scratched it, dang! While I was waffling on my purchase decision the guy in front of me picked up the Domestica vinyl, but the one he grabbed was a tour exclusive picture disc. When I went to purchase right after him I found out that was the only picture disc version they had. I ended up getting the poster and the vinyl, but let this be a lesson kids, don't hesitate and get the cool merch before it's all gone!
After securing my purchase it was time for the opener Neva Dinova who are also from Omaha. While I'm a huge fan of a lot of Saddle Creek bands, I can't say I ever delved deep into Neva Dinova's catalog. My good friend Eric wanted to come to the show but was under the weather. He said Neva Dinova is is favorite band so I was excited to see what all the buzz was about.
Neva Dinova has a wide range of sounds from dream-pop to folk rock to almost proggy psychedelia. Lead singer Jake Bellows strummed along while softly singing about long distance lovers, spiritual uncertainty, and midwest heartbreak. In his blue dickies with a small sailor stripe and European Adidas Jake nailed the Midwest Indie rock look. Bass player Megan also had an effortlessly cool look with black skinny jeans and bright red-orange penny loafers.
About halfway through the set Jake and his band were joined by Tim Kasher, then later Ted Stevens from Cursive. As Tim and Jake dueled on folksy guitars they both looked like they were having a blast. Jake said several times the show was like a dream and he was super happy to see so many friends and family in the room. Neva Dinova played several new songs throughout the set, so hopefully they have a new release in the works. Give them a follow so you don't miss it when it comes out!
In between Neva Dinova and Cursive I noticed a guy in the crowd had a Cinema Center shirt. What a throwback! I spent many hours of my youth with my best friends Nik and Eric going between Cinema Center and Gamer's to play Mortal Kombat.
As the clock struck 9:45 it was time for the legends Cursive! Rather than kicking right into Domestica the band pulled out a few singles including "The Recluse", from their seminal album The Ugly Organ and "Stranded Satellite", from their latest release Get Fixed. During "The Recluse" the crowd was packed in and turning up the juice, singing along with Tim at full volume. I snapped away as Matt Maginn laid down that beautiful bass line keeping the rhythm section tight. I think Domestica has the slight edge for me personally, but The Ugly Organ is just as untouchable when it comes to albums that shaped my youth.
After those couple of singles Tim addressed the crowd and said "What if we played Domestica top to bottom? Are you guys cool with that?" He quickly launched into "The Casualty" and we were in crunchy guitar heaven. The crowd sang along in unison "The night has fallen down the staircase" and I got chills! Being right against the stage and feeling the kick of the drums was incredible. For only a moment all the worries of daily life melted away and we were young and full of angst once more.
Cursive blasted through the full Domestica album with such ferocity and intention. Tim snarled on the mic and buried his face in his hands during some of the more intense moments of the album like the fading lyrics of "A little bit closer, closer" on "The Game Of Who Needs Who The Worst". After completing Domestica Tim said "Well that was cute. Wasn't that cute? I think we did a pretty good job. We've had a ton of practice, you guys did a great job participating."
With Domestica clocking in around 37 minutes there was plenty of time left for more Cursive! The band played a nice mix of their catalog with songs represented from The Ugly Organ, Mama I'm Swollen, Happy Hollow, and The Storms of Early Summer.
During the encore Cursive pulled out the classic "The Great Decay" and during the final breakdown Tim said "I'm going to be a little selfish right now, everybody get real quiet". "I just want to say to that guy over there, nice Cinema Center shirt!" I laughed hysterically. With his whip-smart wit still intact, Tim remains one of the best front men out there.
For the grand finale Cursive closed with one of their biggest hits "Art Is Hard". As I hung in the back taking everything in I felt extremely grateful to have the opportunity to not only attend the show but to capture photos. I can't wait to print some of these treasured memories. It was an honor shooting for one of my favorite bands. The next time Cursive plays Omaha make sure you get there, it's worth every penny!
Huge thanks to Cursive and 15 Passenger records for photo access.
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