Roughly four years ago, when Cursive last played a show in Champaign, guitarist Ted Stevens proposed to his wife. Revisiting the place of Stevens’ engagement, Cursive is coming back on March 26 for a performance at Highdive as a part of Pygmalion Music Festival’s Spring Show Series.
Cursive is an Omaha-based indie rock band, currently composed of Tim Kasher, Matt Maginn, Stevens, Cully Symington and Patrick Newbery. The Highdive show is just one night of a month-long tour the band has been using to support the release of their latest album, I Am Gemini. Out on February 21, via Saddle Creek, I Am Gemini modernizes a traditional horror tale of twin brothers separated at birth. The album comes with a libretto, or a playbill, which presents the lyrics as a script; stage direction, narration and Greco-Roman references are all included.
I Am Gemini is undoubtedly a theatrical record. Even with the libretto taken away, a dramatic element remains within the songs. What such an album should be called wasn’t exactly clear to the band at first. Since it tells a story, it could be labeled as a concept album. Cursive has released concept albums before, but none of them had elements of theater so closely attached to them.
“We kind of joke, like, what is it?” said Stevens. “The little Wikipedia research that we did, we came up with, and I hate to say it but, rock opera.”
I Am Gemini seems to represent a few firsts for Cursive. The idea behind the album was thought up by Kasher, the band’s main songwriter. Kasher, for the first time, wrote the lyrics for the songs in the order they are presented on the album. Another first for the band when working on the record was the tight deadline they put themselves on. Cursive has not done a rock opera-esque album before, and as Stevens explained, Kasher is more into musicals and show tunes than any other member of the band. By letting Kasher develop this idea, the other members of the band demonstrated the trust they had in him.
“At some point you’re in a band and it’s time to write lyrics and it’s time for someone to step up to the mic and you really just have to put a lot of faith in that person,” explained Stevens. “You can have conversations and you can go over things and read the lyrics before the recording, but we really like the way Tim writes and that’s why we play.”
Rock opera or not, fans should not think that they are purchasing tickets to a musical as they get ready for the Highdive performance. Tracks one through thirteen on the album definitely tell a story, but they will not be played in that order during the live set. There will also be no costumes to match the characters, and no librettos will be handed out at the door.
“Right now we’re just playing tracks and just having a good show,” said Stevens. “We’re mixing the old and the new and kind of trying out some different stuff. It’s interpreting some older stuff and then playing the new stuff, but a little more faithful to the record.”
Since the band released I Am Gemini just a month ago, they don’t have any decided plans for the future. However, each member of the band is involved in some sort of project. Fans can look forward to the “roots-y and blues-y rock, a little psychedelic” album Stephens is currently working on, as well as Kasher’s follow up to his first solo record.
Supporting Cursive on this tour are Conduits, also from Omaha, and New York-based indie rock group Cymbals Eat Guitars. Fans should expect a fun night including band-to-crowd interactions. As Stevens said, Cursive will either keep “a friendly distance or a friendly closeness, depending on what the night calls for.”
Who: Cursive, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Conduits
When: Monday, March 26 @ 7:30 (Doors at 7)
Cost: $12 in advance, $15 at the door