9/28/10

SHE SAID BABY YOU WORRY TOO MUCH ABOUT DYING

I'm a grown man.
"I don't know why we don't hang out more," Tim Kasher said early last night at Vaudeville Mews, reiterating comments he made when his band Cursive played here last fall. After all, he said, Omaha and Des Moines are like "neighbors." Last time the metaphor of choice was "cousins," but if that's so, then he's the family member suddenly going through a mid-life crisis. The Omaha indie-rock stalwart's new solo album, The Game of Monogamy, is filled with disarmingly frank, delicately arranged folk-pop that confronts his fears of growing old, dead, or-- at least, here's the subtext-- boring. And that last one sounds like it probably scares him most of all.

Thing is, hanging out with our relatively unstable cousin/neighbor from Omaha was a pretty good time last night, on the first stop of his new national tour. I'm no expert on Cursive or Kasher's other band, the Good Life, but I actually thought the solo show was better than the Cursive gig I saw, in part because the setting allowed for a more relaxed, conversational interaction between singer and audience. In addition to the songs from the new album, in which Kasher obsesses over high school yearbooks and ex-girlfriends (he's smart enough both to know the reasons why and that they don't speak highly of him), Kasher and his band played a couple of Cursive and the Good Life tunes, plus Leonard Cohen's "Who By Fire" and David Bowie's "Soul Love". The Cohen cover, in particular, shed some interesting light on what Kasher is doing here: lyric-driven examinations of a once-wild soul hurtling toward middle age in a town with plenty of nursing homes, not pretending to have figured anything out. (As Mike pointed out, the Cohen cover sounded better when he stopped trying to sing like Cohen and started singing more like himself.)

There was a kid who I think I might've recognized from the Cursive show going a bit drunkenly nuts up in front, and it was funny to see how Kasher handled it. "I have a tendency to breed these alcoholic motherfuckers," he said, apologizing on the kid's behalf. "If he bumps into you then you gotta take care of it. But again, I apologize." Later, Kasher sang, "I can't feel anything at all"; the kid really liked that part. The setlist included a touchingly pretty acoustic love song from the new album (I'm a sucker for anything about a couple taking in dogs, not that we have any), and we got muted trumpet, violin, and what I think was melodica, among the usual array of rock'n'roll instruments. I bought an LP-- the art looks to be Game of Life/Monopoly-themed, which is a nice touch (maybe you already guessed this from the title, but I didn't, and maybe you didn't, either?). Oh, and the crowd was mostly really quiet and listening attentively-- like, impressively so-- but at one point I told a couple of nice-seeming but loud-talking dudes they were "being that guy" and asked them to quiet down or move back from the front a little bit, so I'm sorry to those guys if I was a bummer. I talk loudly at shows sometimes, too, of course-- I just figured the people around me were probably more polite than I am so I might as well be the one to step up and say something. "If you see something, say something," right?



Des Moines' own Cashes Rivers and Parlours opened but it was an early show so I got there a little late due to work and eating. Another early show tonight, one I will not allow food to cause me to miss: Duluth, Minnesota-based singer-songwriter David Dondero, Australian singer-songwriter Darren Hanlon, and Des Moines singer-songwriter Derek Lambert. As Ladd's mass text today suggested, it's a good day for "D"s. (Retribution Gospel Choir on Thursday. Strange Boys/Gentlemen Jesse and His Men on Friday. Busy week!)

Also I missed Scout Niblett on Sunday and I don't have any good excuse.

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