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Cursive’s emo-assault probes pain, passion of a generation

Special to The Times

Cursive’s charismatic and confessional vocalist Tim Kasher proved that they don’t call it “emo-core” for nothing, as he slashed and howled his way through a dozen giant, gut-wrenching, guitar-throttling tunes, each more emotionally caustic than the next.

His strong voice and flat, high-toned anti-melodies make most every song sound like the Cure’s Robert Smith singing “Let’s Go to Bed” with a hard-core punk band. In fact, the one disappointment in Friday’s show at the Troubadour was simply how much the Omaha band clings to its singular songshape: the staccato blasts of roaring, tight hard-core dropping out intermittently for plaintive vocals, the falsely sweet lilt of Gretta Cohn’s lovely cello, then back to hard-core and howling.

As if to drive home the point, Kasher even swung into the Go-Go’s “We Got the Beat” and flattened it into, well, emo.

Not that this mattered in the least to a sold-out crowd of college-age fans, who mouthed the words to what must be considered Cursive classics, such as “The Game of Who Needs Who the Worst,” from their best album, “Domestica,” and “Am I Not Yours?” from the new “Eight Teeth to Eat You,” a split CD with Japan’s Eastern Youth.

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The powerful attack of drummer Clint Schnase, bassist Matt Maginn and guitarist Ted Stevens was a joy to watch. And fan cameras flashed all night in Kasher’s face, a man who for this generation captures the scattered, post-punk pain of being young and in and out of love.


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