There are certain voices that evoke a strong sense of emotion from within. One of those voices, for me, is Tim Kasher. Whether he’s performing solo, as part of The Good Life (undoubtedly my favorite project of his), Cursive, or in any of the various other projects he has helped out with over the years, I find a true sense of nostalgia and comfort in Tim’s voice so I was beyond thrilled for the chance to see him perform on Thursday night at The Fine Line in Minneapolis.
The sole opener for the night was Neva Dinova. I could picture Neva Dinova’s name on CDs that I’ve collected over the years but, honestly, I couldn’t remember what they sound like. Much like Tim, Neva Dinova hails from Omaha, Nebraska which is why I think I have so many of their records. Growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, and working at record shops throughout my teenage years, I collected so many promo copies of albums just to have them (I’m a bit of a music hoarder). I remember getting boxes from Saddle Creek Records on a nearly weekly basis and that’s where my obsession with Tim and all of these other Omaha-based indie rock bands seems to stem from. I also think that’s why Neva Dinova’s name is so familiar to me but, being a music hoarder, just because I have their albums, doesn’t mean I’ve spent much time with them so I buckled up for whatever I was about to get from Neva Dinova knowing that if it was endorsed by Tim Kasher, it was worth my attention.
I was right. Although the lush and almost ambient indie-rock sound was lulling me to sleep at points throughout the set, I was instantly in love with Neva Dinova. I mean it when I use the word “lush” to describe this band. Although just a trio for the majority of the set (more on that later), this band had a very full sound to them that was so easy to get lost in. Overall, their sound was very chill almost leaning into the lo-fi indie-rock scene but never quite taking the full plunge into the genre. Instead, they kind of hang in the balance of being one of those bands that could put on to fall asleep or you could completely get lost in the words and musical structure of their songs.
Although their music was a dreamy soundscape that had me nodding off at times (I don’t mean that in a bad way– more just I was tired and their style is the type of music I may put on to take a nap or something), the personality of vocalist Jake Bellows had me completely engaged. He was goofy and a bit out there and his interactions with the audience had me laughing throughout the set. “We have been reanimated with whiskey, peanuts, and whatnot!” He joked when talking about how it has been a while since Neva Dinova has been on tour. At one point Jake questioned whether his guitar was in tune or not. “I think I’m kinda in tune… yeah… let’s just do it!”. It was one of those funny statements that now, as I write it down, I realize that you just kind of had to be there.
Before jumping into the album playthrough, Cursive treated the excited audience to a couple of other songs spanning the entirety of their nearly thirty-year lifespan. People were loving the one-off tracks before the playthrough but it was clear that the majority of the audience was there to hear to iconic album from front to back. “We are going to play the show out of ‘Domestica’ and all we ask from you is to listen the shit out of us playing through ‘Domestica'”, Tim joked. He went on to ask the audience to look at the band as they play through the album, but don’t look in a weird way. If you’re going to look at the band in a weird way then just look away and look at your shoes. Tim is a genius when it comes to music and has truly been grinding for decades. It would be enough for anyone to lose their passion but hearing Tim tell the audience what to do during the playthrough was a good reminder that Tim is a wild animal. He has been grinding for years and will continue grinding because he truly loves what he’s doing and that comes to fruition when he interacts with his fans.
As soon as the first note of “The Casualty” hit, the entire audience seemed to go into a trance. It was a bit surreal but it was also a beautiful moment. From people just standing in the back swaying to the music to people screaming along to every word as if their life depended on it, it was clear that this album, like the band, meant so much to so many people in the audience. ‘Domestica’ may not have been “my album” from Cursive but you could have fooled me as I got lost in everything about the show on Thursday night. There’s just something about Cursive’s sound (regardless of the album). It orchestral chaos with an indie-rock sensibility and Midwest attitude. At times it shakes you around a bit but, at others, it soothes your soul the way a roaring fire would on a cold and snowy winter day. It’s a little bit of everything stylistically which makes you feel a little bit of everything in your heart.
Instead of just ending the show after the album playthrough, Cursive went on to play another smattering of songs including a personal favorite of mine, “From The Hips”. I’m definitely a bit bummed that they didn’t play “Dorothy At Forty” but they did a great job picking all sorts of songs spanning the entirety of their career. Even though they had given the audience well more than what they paid for, people seemed to be a bit confused as the show ended. Cursive is one of those bands that could play for hours on end, hell, they could repeat songs over and over again yet fans would be left begging for more. It’s never enough when it comes to Cursive and I am already craving another show from this amazing group.