By Lillie Dremeaux
In 10 years, what I’ll remember about the show is the rubber duckies.
From my spot near the back of the cavernous-for-Anchorage Wendy Williamson Auditorium, I couldn’t tell what had been lobbed at the stage. They were yellow. Fruit-sized. Roundish, but not spherical. Lemons?
Once the lead singer of Cursive launched into verbal defense — “I can take rubber duckies all the live-long day” — my curiosity abated. More duckies flew. The band hurled duckies back. Cute.
That was only the most emphatic demonstration of crowd-love for the Omaha, Neb., pop-punk indie band. Hordes of listeners, mostly college-age at this 15th-anniversary party for UAA radio station KRUA 88.1 FM, stood, cheered and bopped. Dancers swarmed in front of the stage’s apron, fists pumping, camera phones aloft.
No surprise there. Cursive brought it, churning out their dark, stark lyrics in time to tight, tough percussion, a three-piece horn section, guitars and bass and a singer who knew how to hang onto a note. They also got dreamy, mixing languid electricity, serious guitar echo and wailing vocals, then leading back into simple, even verse.
The words belted from Tim Kasher’s mouth were nothing if not honest. He philosophized passionately and often seemed self-effacing. “Awake, alone in a woman’s room I hardly know,” he intoned in “The Recluse” — “I wake alone, pretend that I am finally home.” “A Gentleman Caller” played on the deception and lies that accompany an unfaithful relationship; “Dorothy Dreams of Tornadoes,” off the recent album “Happy Hollow,” depicted the sentiments of a couple stuck in a rut in a terrible city. “Dorothy” was all impact, progressing louder and harder until its coda: “This city is killing us” (repeat a dozen times).
Cursive’s contrast to opening act The Paper Chase was bold. Those noisy, experimental rockers were distinctive for their patently bizarre lyrics, their occasionally frantic sound and the way the lead singer feigned spastic twitches and kicks. Cursive even remarked on it onstage: “I gotta tell ya, it’s some creepy (stuff).”
But the full, strong sound of the band, almost always driven more by rhythm and tone than by melody, didn’t let up.
When the group exited the stage 40 minutes after start time, the crowd was not ready to let it go. (For the value-conscious: Tickets were $20 to 25 for the general public.) There was the inevitable Anchorage encore. Of course, Cursive delivered a handful of bonus songs; of course, it was over in a few quick minutes.
As Kasher said goodbye a second time, reverb filled the theater, the instruments synchronized in a massive, plodding beat, vocals filled in the sonic gaps and the deliberately discordant horns clashed. The kids in front screamed; the cacophony boomed. It was a powerful ending to a good show — a show nonetheless marked forever by its one truly unique trait: airborne bath toys.
Freelance writer and Daily News copy editor Lillie Dremeaux can be reached at email@example.com.