Cursive, Harvard, Yardwork, Andy the Doorbum
Tremont Music Hall
March 7, 2011
The Deal: Although they had written many anthems of my late teenage romantic angst, I had never gotten the opportunity to see Cursive live. In fact, I had fallen so out of touch with their touring I didn't even realize that they were coming to Charlotte until it was announced that Andy the Doorbum, Yardwork and Harvard were scheduled to open for them. Not only was I completely in awe that I would get to see Cursive, I was tremendously proud of our more emotionally geared local acts getting the chance to open for such a band that is held in such high regard. I couldn't miss it for the world.
The Good: Andy the Doorbum began the night with a set that wasn't shy of amazing. To be honest, I think it threw the crowd off to see such a strong performance opening up. Although it was obvious through overhearing conversation that the vast majority of the crowd was there to see Cursive, and Cursive alone, people stopped in their tracks and made route to the stage towards the powerful vocals of Andy combined with his acoustic guitar, Buck's banjo and Ricky's saxophone and drums. The boys stood jamming on the stage with Andy sitting in the middle, belting out tunes so intensely sweat dripped down his red, flushed face. In between songs, Andy, as per usual solicited deep messages about our world and immediately followed them with invigorating music that proved the point. While Andy the Doorbum has been classified as having many attributes, I feel that the sheer emotionalism of his music made them a perfect fit to open the night. By the end of their set, our hearts were touched and all in the right place for what was to come.
Yardwork went on next and for the umpteenth time, did not cease to astound me. With two drummers, two guitarists, a bassist and a trumpet/trombone/xylophone/tambourine player, you would think that it would be excessive but it works in a way that I believe no one else could replicate. They play their instruments in perfect unison with facial expressions and passion for it as if they were making love to the most beautiful lady in the world. Sequentially, they move to the intense beats created by their drummers and commence with their unique moderately indie rock with a hint of rock from the late '90s. Being a little more similar in style to Cursive, they furthered the excitement for the night and got the crowd pumped. Ladies were screaming that they loved them and the band was humble. They just kept on playing and enthralling everyone until their last note.
Harvard was last to open and they certainly put the cherry of emotionalism on top of the multi-layered sundae that had already been assembled. With a bit softer feel, they caught the attention of the audience so intensely you could see in their eyes that their heartstrings were pulled. With chord progressions and melodies similar to Minus the Bear, they soothingly rocked it out, allowing us all to smile and feel the connection between music and life. A perfect prelude performance.
By the time Cursive took the stage, the entire room was packed to the point there was nowhere to move. Everybody was anxious and excited to see them take their places and the entire room screamed as they played their first notes. It was no surprise to me that they played flawlessly; it was so on point, it was as if you were actually listening to their albums. Their lengthy history shined through their ability to play and rock out consecutively and progressively from song to song. Their performance unlocked the crowd's emotional side and opened a floodgate of nostalgia for the bulk of us. Peering out into the audience, a variety of sincere reactions: some wiping their eyes and some with cheesy grins on their face. You can certainly tell Cursive is an incredibly well-loved band by their fanbase. Although all but a handful of the crowd were as stiff as a board, a good percentage of them were singing along to every lyric as if they had listened to them a thousand times before. Surprisingly, they played a lot of older songs but I must admit that the climax of the show was Art is Hard. People finally started to move and actively feel the music. The lights lightly shined down on the band and as they danced down to their perfect performance and energy radiated as intensely as it gets. As expected, they wouldn't be able to get away with playing just a set; an encore was requested, granted and amazingly executed leaving all of us completely baffled as to how it all just happened.
The Bad: As I said before, the audience was enjoying themselves but at the same time were stiff and lifeless to a certain extent. I would say maybe 20 people were even so much as banging their head. Although I do understand that there are different viewing styles, it threw me off that so many people could watch in the same manner. I suppose it wasn't necessarily bad, it was just kind of odd.
The Verdict: I truly couldn't have asked for a better line-up for this show. None of the bands were too intensely similar but all bands had an overall concrete appeal to catharsis and are good at demonstrating it. Despite the fact the audience wasn't as physical as I felt was deserved, the turnout was great and everyone seemed genuinely pleased with the experience. If you haven't heard any of these bands I must urge you to check them out. Andy the Doorbum, Yardwork and Harvard are from around here and thus, constantly playing. It will most definitely be harder to catch Cursive but their albums can be found in most independent record shops and on itunes.