TVD Live: Cursive, Cymbals Eat Guitars, and The Conduits at
the Hi-Tone, 3/17

Generally speaking, there are not many reasons to like Tuesday. It’s right next to Monday, so it only reminds you that the weekend is far away. Furthermore, the television won’t even offer you respite from your hard day at work. (I mean, who still watches Biggest Loser anyways?)

Well, this past Tuesday, The Conduits, Cymbals Eat Guitars, and Cursive came to the Hi-Tone Cafe, and if you happened to miss out—it was much better than anything NBC had to offer.

What sweetened the pot is that I had the chance to chat with Conduits about touring and music before the show. We spoke of their moody and dark aesthetic and its ability to still sound big. When discussing arrangement and their sense of crescendo, we touched on influences ranging from Jon Bonham to Mogwai.

As I arrived, Conduits had begun their set and were working in a solid groove. Singer Jenna Morrison belted away over the lush soundscapes from swelling pianos and echoey guitars. The Conduits’ sound is a lovely juxtaposition of atmospheric textures and rigidly strict yet ridiculously well-placed drum beats. Whenever Morrison’s voice glides onto a song, it becomes immediately impossible not to become emotionally involved. Her sense of power fits into the empty space between the guitar and drums and drives songs through huge choruses and extended burst of emotion.

Cymbals Eat Guitars was on next and upped the rock ante a notch or two. Although they lacked certain atmospheric qualities that had grown on me from the Conduits, their teethy sound was a welcomed jolt of energy to the crowd. Intellectual grime is a difficult role to fill, but Cymbals Eat Guitars’ extended arrangements and nasty guitar tones were able to deliver the message loud and clear. Singer Joseph D’Agostino’s vocal style contrasted well with the complex and filthy guitar work with crystal clear melodic runs.

As Cymbals Eat Guitars finished their set and began to pack up, everyone made their way to the stage to receive a gritty aural fix. Cursive’s music is the raunchy, educated older brother of the emo scene that puttered out in the latter half of the 2000s. Present are the giganto drumbeats and overdriven guitars playing carefully timed chord stabs—but with a catch. Dissonance is often in play in Cursive’s sound, giving a purposefully sloppier sound that results in an edgier aesthetic. Tim Kasher’s dry lyricism is reflective and densely personal, most often presented in a satirical or dark package.

On stage, this sense of matured frustration easily won over the crowd and produced smiles as if Cursive were giving away free puppies in between songs. “Wowowo” went over especially well, but the evening’s highlight was easily when Cursive broke out “Dorothy At Forty,” and the crowd went figuratively nuts.

Cursive’s well-rounded-yet-still-sharp sound lit up the Hi-Tone like Christmas. In tandem with the thought-rock of Cymbals Eat Guitars and the spacious sounds of Conduits, it made for an amazing show. If you’re reading this from across the pond, be sure to catch Cursive during their upcoming European tour.

Photos by Nicole Robbins

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