TVD Live: Tim Kasher
at The Hi-Tone, 9/3

When the headlining act starts the night by saying, “Let’s start the night with something self-deprecating,” it’s a toss up as to how the night, and song, will go. Songwriters are known to be a little (okay, a lot) self-deprecating; hell, most writers are. Tim Kasher, of Cursive, delivered with his opening song; it was the first promise of the night, and he honored his word.

This song, like the others performed throughout his set, held lines I would be highly doubtful of if the singer fails to be, or at least gives off the illusion of being, absolutely genuine. Tim Kasher is a genuine performer, if nothing else (and he is something else).

In a world where “pop” is a derogatory term to describe a band or singer, Tim Kasher is not afraid of a pop song, not afraid to be passionate and upbeat all at once. The rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic he applies to his songs is proof that there are still musicians out there who believe rock ‘n’ roll to be an upbeat, lighthearted affair. I couldn’t help but to think from my seat, observing a man I’d never seen before, that I finally found out where melody went; Tim Kasher stole it and has it by the throat. It’s not forced, it doesn’t sound affected. It’s just there, and melody should just be there.

Ninety percent of the time, an actual acknowledgement to the spiritual influences to a songwriter’s song can come out completely wrong and make him look like either a total dick or completely cheesy. (I’m just being honest.) When Kasher said to an audience that he already had in the palm of his hand, “I didn’t even write this gem, the Holy Spirit wrote it,” it was believable and humorous all at once, an appropriate approach in my opinion. The song that followed was the most sincere moment of the entire set.

Kasher then proceeded to “end the setlist proper” with a beautifully familiar “Seattle.” If this had been the actual end to the night, the crowd would have left just as satisfied if he hadn’t proceeded to do a three-song encore.

Tim Kasher began his encore with the best cover of Elvis Costello’s “I Don’t Want To Go To Chelsea” that this music fan has ever heard. The number one rule of covering such a classic is that you have to bring something new to it while staying true to the original. Often a band can fail at this. However, Tim Kasher and his mates did not. I couldn’t help but smile big, dance in my seat, and wonder if anyone else in the crowd even knew that it was a Costello song.

Tonight, yet again, I went to see a band that I wasn’t too familiar with (I’d only seen a few videos on Youtube prior to this), and, yet again, I walked out with my expectations exceeded. Mr. Kasher, you’re more than welcome to grace the stage in Memphis, Tennessee again as soon as possible.

(Sidenote: I normally refrain from commenting on an audience, but I would be remiss if I didn’t give notice to this one. I’ve never seen a group of music lovers be so respectful of a performer, never. They were the perfect combination of attentive and adoring, and there were a very small percentage of those awful chatterboxes that sometimes ruin a whole set for the rest of the audience who actually came to hear music. Memphis, please take note. Also, any guy who calls his fans “beautiful people” and means it, is good in my book. Bravo, Tim.)

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