Had a relatively great time at the Curiosa festival yesterday with aquamindy, cynic51, and eventually mokatz and grimkitten_. Our seats in Section 13 were toward the Section 14 side, in the third row behind the pit wall. So with the pit, we were probably about 8 or 10 rows back overall. All in all, fairly excellent, certainly enough so for my needs.
The bands on the secondary stage were not bad, but not good enough to stand around and listen to for more than a song or two. But walking from the pavilion to the second stage in Lot A at least gave me a nice chance to stretch legs, enjoy the cool evening weather, and enjoy the buzz of the place.
The bands on the main stage were all pretty good. I'll admit up front that ever since I left WRUW, I've been really out of touch with most music, and I had pretty much never heard of any of the opening bands before. So, Curiosa gave me a nice chance to hear totally new music, by totally new (to me) bands, live and direct. Can't complain about that.
It rained for most of Mogwai's set, weather which really lent itself nicely to their sound, which is sort of instrumental rock for rainy days. I don't know that I'd go see them live, but I could certainly pick up and enjoy their CD's. They are also incomprehensibly Scottish, so I have no idea what the hell they said between songs.
The Rapture was pretty fun, very upbeat and crazy. Their best stuff, I thought, was their opening song, which had some sort of modern-disco-ish keyboard stuff going on. But they get props for weird sax twiddling that reminded me a lot of some material from The Top-era Cure.
Interpol was also pretty enjoyable, seemed very polished as a group, and musically solid. Unfortunately almost all of their songs sounded identical, but that could just be an artifact of having never heard them before. cynic51 and I tried to pin down their sound, and I think the consensus was "AC/DC gone emo."
The Cure... were amazing, though a touch off on a couple songs early in their set. But once they got the sound a bit more under control, it was pretty tight and overall excellent. The new material, for the most part, is not as strong as the classic stuff, but this year's new material is, for the most part, much stronger than Wild Mood Swings or Bloodflowers.
The setlist, however... was not what I (or a lot of people, apparently) expected. It bothered me a little bit, because there were some of my favorites that I had really wanted to hear ("Just Like Heaven," "Play For Today," "A Forest," "Disintegration", "A Night Like This") that weren't performed. But a casual listener who only knew the radio-friendly hits (such as my wife) would have been totally lost (as she was). Not only has she not listened to the new album (thus not knowing a big chunk of what was played), she didn't have the advantage of being obsessed with collecting and memorizing the Cure's back catalogue during college. So where I was stunned and amazed to hear a lot of great older material that almost never gets played, she (and others) were not having such a great time with it. It was also very solidly on the gloomy side--with the rain and it being Thursday's last night with the tour, I suspect Robert wasn't in the poppiest of moods.
Things which were stunningly good to hear:
- "Like Cockatoos" -- One of my absolute favorite Cure tracks, the sound of it is just amazing...
- "Siamese Twins" -- My biggest complaint about the Denver '96 show was that there wasn't enough material from Pornography played... so w00t for this classic!
- "A Strange Day" -- Wow! More stuff from Pornography!
- "From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea" -- Yes, played regularly, but by far one of the best, most solid things from the post-Disintegration albums. Epic, emotional, wrenching...
- "100 Years" -- A starkly grim song paired with equally disturbing projected images of war and destruction. Extremely powerful. (And another from Pornography; Robert must really not have been in a good mood!)
- "Faith" -- A rarity when played in Denver in '96, it seems like it's a little more common now, but still beautiful.
Things which did not delight me:
- "Lost" -- This opener from the new album just seems weak. Give me "Tape/Open" from the Wish tour, or "Want" from the Wild Mood Swings tour any day!!
- "Shake Dog Shake" immediately after "Lost" -- a 1984-era opener, which by itself is a nice thing to hear, but two slow openers in a row just hurts, especially when they have many better things that could be played.
- "The Drowning Man" -- Probably my least favorite track from Faith, I would have much rather heard "All Cats Are Grey" or "Primary".
Of course, the major complaint about the Cincinatti show was that there was too much of the poppy stuff in the setlist. In my opinion, the ideal Cure show would have been a synthesis of the Cincinatti show and the Cleveland show (minus duplicated things, of course, and minus the things I didn't care for). Alas, it was not meant to be. Such is the peril of going to see a band that has 90+ songs practiced and ready to go for a concert--the setlist will always find ways to disappoint and amaze.
Still, all that aside, I'm damn glad that we went. I'm even happier that for once in my life I had earplugs; maybe I have finally learned my lesson.
- Mood: thoughtful
- Music: The Cure - "Play For Today (Live)"