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August 26, 2004

{     Curiosa Festival, Cleveland OH     }    

bob12.jpg This may come as a shock to some of you, but in junior high, I was a mope rock motherfucker. Sure, I listened to hip-hop, but to this day, I can just as easily drop some Smiths lyrics alongside my Big Daddy Kane. Never underestimate the power of teen angst, as everybody secretly feels that they are some deep untapped geyser of human complexity and misunderstood genius, especially in the eighth grade. I’m not a fan of most of today’s sonic sobbers as I seem to prefer my melancholy to come with an English accent and a twist of homoeroticism. However, with Moz’s summer vacation plans cancelled, I opted to seek refuge and solace in the teased-out, bummed-out aura of Robert “Silk Shirt” Smith at this year’s Monsters of Mope tour, Curiosa. On a fittingly overcast day, I went to frolick in the frowns of the Cure, Interpol, Mogwai, the Rapture and a host of others all set in the golden city of suck, Cleveland, Ohio. I was curious to see what the audience would be like at such an event and prepared myself for a little sociological study. I concluded upon arriving at Curiosa that the festival was not unlike that of attending a renaissance fair, filled to capacity with high-school theater drop-outs, wannabe gypsys, and dudes that still really dig “The Crow”. Let me start out by saying the “second stage” of this festival was a joke. Mute, Thursday, and bunch of other bands I’ve seen on MuchMusic or “Fuse” prove to be just as generic and silly in person as they sound on your “alternative rock” radio dial. Any band that still uses the 8th grade death metal gut scream in this day and age needs to reprioritize. Melissa Auf Maur proves that she’s much better at being in bands right before they break up then starting up her own. Two things become apparent when seeing her perfom: 1) she’s from Canada, as she proudly announced between every song and 2)she looks like Jane Fonda with a Hot Topic gift certificate. As far as the Main Stage went, Mogwai was incredible. The overpowering dynamics and sheer power never disappoint. Unfortunately, their set was first on the bill and only lasted a light 40 mins, which in Mogwai terms translates to three songs. I actually checked them out again the next night at a small club date in Pittsburgh. Recommended. As I told a friend of mine, the Rapture is like seeing 311 if they were high on skittles. Four dopey, annoyingly happy guys (very out of place at such a somber event) dressed in matching outfits whose apparent mission objective seemed to be unifying this world party with a singular funky bass groove. This band is fruitopia as fuck. Constant overhead clapping, extreme-rocker facial gestures utilized to highlight particularly tasty guitar licks and a member that specializes in the cowbell all serve to make the Rapture seem less like a band and more like a collection of assholes whose performance is to be politely tolerated at a summer camp talent show. Despite the obvoius low the Rapture provided, Interpol was as amazing as a band that’s played the same 11 songs for the last 3 years should be. Impressively dressed and impossibly handsome, the wannabe Brits were awesome. They even managed to play a few new songs, which strangely, sounded just like the old ones. Extra points for the bass player as he included a Serpico-esque gun holster in his onstage ensemble. Tres chic, Carlos! If anybody can be bummed about selling out a ridiculously-enormous concert venue at $50 a head, its Robert Smith. Looking less like Elizabeth Taylor then recent photos will have you believe, Smith played many awkward pubescent soundtrack faves that the crowd ate up as well as many new songs that were tolerated and politely waited out. The J Mascis-approved “Just like Heaven” and the Kodak-approved “Pictures of You” were highlights in the near 2 hour set. With several new members sprinkled in with the old ones, the band sounded great and actually proved to be quite upbeat. While I’ve never attended a concert where the headliner utilized chimes so freely throughout their songs, Robert Smith’s stage presence is total and dominant. While I tend to shy away from such large venues, one has no choice if they intend to see this legendary band and fortunately, they did not disappoint. And while this event does have some problems to be fixed if it intends to continue (like the only food available being steak fajitas), I can honestly say that as I looked out upon the audience, I saw a few lipstick-clad frowns turned upside down.

     » The Cure's Official Site

Comments

It does my heart well to read such snarkily nasty things about what the Spaniards might call "El Rapturo," but they probably wouldn't.

I kept hearing how great they were, so I hunted down a copy (burned please, I'm not such a spendthrift) put it in my car's cd player (my Discman turned Astroman from high school, R.I.P.) ever so excited and spent the next 40 minutes or so waiting expectantly for something good to come on.

Posted by: benjamin at August 26, 2004 4:47 PM

I, too, fell into the same trap. The album is mediocre at best but people speak of them as if they are the new messiahs. I did have the misfortune of having to sit through another, extended set of theirs as they opened up for Mogwai the next day. Luckily, I've never seen an audience become so hostile and aggressive in displaying their displeasure. I felt I was at the Apollo and feared the situation turning into mob rule. Fortunately, these circumstances considerably improved the dire circumstances of suffering through another set.

Posted by: Eric at August 26, 2004 6:04 PM
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