Last Night: Tim Kasher, Aficionado, Sea Lion at The Loft

im Kasher, Aficionado, Sea Lion
The Loft
September 7th, 2011

Better than: filming your own version of Say Anything's proposed sequel.

Given the turnout for last night's show, with the floor in front of the stage not even half-full, Tim Kasher could have played for less than an hour and called it a night. 

Thankfully, he didn't.

With his three-piece backing band, including Cursive keyboardist/trumpeter Patrick Newbery, Kasher played for almost two hours, focusing mainly on his solo LP, The Game of Monogamy, and this year's Bigomy EP.

And whether it was the alcohol catching up with him or not, Kasher ended the set like a train coming off the tracks. But he didn't drive off a cliff. 

Taking stage a few minutes before 10:30, he cracked jokes and told stories, setting the blueprint for the whole night. Starting with "Opening Night" and proceeding to play most of his solo LP and EP until 10 minutes after midnight, the audience received much, much more than a standard performance. 

Kasher's solo material resembles his work with the folky The Good Life and sounds almost nothing like his angular-pop with Cursive. So it wasn't a shock how there weren't any Cursive songs performed. But the crowd didn't seem to mind -- they loved every minute. 

As if the show wasn't intimate enough, especially with his back-and-forth conversations and self-depricating zingers with the audience, things got really interesting only a few songs in.

Prior to the fifth song, "There Must Be Something I've Lost," Kasher picked up his microphone stand and walked into the middle of the crowd. Everyone parted either to the left or the right and Kasher faced the stage. Playing one more song, the devastating "Strays," he got back on the stage and unleashed "Bad, Bad Dreams." Five songs later, he was back in the audience in the same spot.

Taking requests, many yelled for songs yet to be played from The Game of Monogamy as well as songs from The Good Life's Album of the Year

Instead, he played a song from The Good Life's second album, Black Out, and then he took on the oft-requested epic from Album of the Year, "Inmates." Concerned he couldn't remember the lyrics, he tried his best and was accompanied by his bassist, Sarah, on co-lead vocals. Fumbling through the final verses with a handful of false starts, a majority of the audience helped out with the missing lyrics. How often do you see that at a show? 

Given the amount of jokes told (one of the best ones: "Sarah, you're not angry enough," he quipped to his bandmate as she played a toy xylophone set) and the stories he told (especially their recent trek through North Carolina while Hurricane Irene came to visit) when Kasher sang, there was pure, aching sincerity that came through. So you could be laughing one minute ("Here's another creepy song about stalking people," Kasher said before "There Must Be Something I've Lost") and then get misty-eyed mere minutes later (especially during "Strays"). 

Returning to the stage for the final four songs of the 14-song set, the band ripped into a straightforward version of Elvis Costello's "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea." Bopping through "Cold Love," The Game Of Monogamy 's peppiest (but no less stinging) tracks, things started to feel a little awkward afterwards. 

Finishing the set with another song from the Bigomy EP, it stretched into lengthy jam that was almost 20 minutes. Introducing the song with a very long tangent about his brother, Kasher seemed like he was falling apart, stumbling over his words and having a hard time standing still. Eventually, the song got going and later, Kasher got on the drums and drummer Dylan Ryan got on guitar. It was like the set didn't want to reach the finish line, but it eventually did. 

The New York sextet Aficionado played before Kasher and played a brief, six-song, 25-minute set. Recalling Pretty Girls Make Graves mixed with florishes of Cursive, the band had a wild card -- a flute. The mix worked. Dallas's own Sea Lion started the night at 8:30 with plenty of jokey between-song banter. Their quirky indie rock with surf-rock drumbeats served them well for their 30-minute set. 

Critic's Notebook 
Personal Bias: I am a fan of Kasher's stuff, but there are times when I find Album of the Year and The Game of Monogamy very hard to listen to. It's not because of the music -- it's the brutal honesty and vulnerability found in the lyrics. I think I needed this show.

By The Way: Ever since I heard a flute on Red Animal War's "The Disappearing Act," I've wondered how a band would sound like if they had a full-time flute player. Aficionado answered my question.

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