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Arts & Life

Thursday, Cursive, and more bring emo history to Anthology

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Provided
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Singer-songwriter Tim Kasher brings his band Cursive to Anthology on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022 along with old tourmates Thursday, Jeremy, Enigk, and The Appleseed Cast.

Tim Kasher is used to touring with notable music acts. He even leads a few of them.

The singer-songwriter has fronted the Omaha rock bands Cursive and The Good Life since 1995 and 2000, respectively. Kasher is prolific: he boasts 20 releases, including Cursive’s beloved 2003 meta-artistic concept album “The Ugly Organ.” The heavy, often frantic LP, released on the indie label Saddle Creek, was critically adored and sold 170,000 copies.

His quarter-century career has afforded Kasher the chance to tour with notable peers like post-hardcore greats Thursday, former Sunny Day Real Estate frontman Jeremy Enigk, and fellow Midwesterners The Appleseed Cast. At Anthology on Jan. 22, he gets to share the stage with all of them on a single bill.

“It ended up being a bit of a surprise,” Kasher says of the January and February tour that headliners Thursday called a “dream lineup.”

“Jeremy and Appleseed were added a bit later, and I wasn't privy to it until about a week before they announced,” Kasher says. “I was just so stoked.”

He has reason to be. Each artist on this tour plays a part in the story of emo, the ever-evolving music genre with roots in hardcore scenes across the United States. Additionally, each has at least one song featured on The 100 Greatest Emo Songs of All Time list published by pop-culture website Vulture in 2020. (Enigk, with Sunny Day Real Estate, has two, both ranked in the top 15.)

The bands playing Anthology this Saturday also have history together. Cursive toured with both Thursday and The Appleseed Cast in 2002, and Kasher noted that the main difference between these shows and those from 20 years ago is more gray hair.

“We're all older now, and I'm kind of thankful that nobody's gotten older in any kind of geriatric way,” he says, laughing. “We were all pretty reckless back in the day.”

That this amount of collective emo history is available for a mere $30 ticket is not lost on fans. One of them is writer and rock historian Dan Ozzi, who chronicled the commercial rises of Thursday and other heavy rock bands in his recent book “Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore (1994–2007).”

“It feels like they took an entire era and packed it up, lock-stock-and-barrel, and took it on the road,” Ozzi says. “Between all of the artists, there's so much cultural significance.”

Though emo hit its commercial peak in the mid-2000s with multi-platinum albums from bands like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance, early ’90s groups like Enigk’s Sunny Day Real Estate helped popularize the genre’s hallmarks, like loud guitars and intense vocals.

A decade later, Ozzi says, Thursday’s relentless energy — led by idiosyncratic vocalist Geoff Rickly — earned their music videos like “Understanding in a Car Crash” regular plays on MTV. This opened the door for the big acts that followed.

“They definitely elevated the integrity of the genre enough that a lot of other bands could be taken seriously,” Ozzi says.

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KEEYAHTAY LEWIS
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The band Thursday.

Concurrently, in the Midwest, Kasher explored arty, high-stakes melodrama with the Cursive albums “Domestica” and “The Ugly Organ,” while The Appleseed Cast embraced a gentler, twinkly sound reminiscent of film scores. The latter band’s 2001 double-album, “Low Level Owl,” remains a landmark in the atmospheric, exploratory sub-genre called post-rock.

Enigk, meanwhile, has spent his post-Sunny Day Real Estate solo career in a realm of folky grandeur. He often performs his song “Abegail Anne” with cello and violin accompaniment.

The vast range in sonics between the artists speaks to how the term “emo” has morphed and stretched since the genre’s inception in the 1980s.

“Once the internet, and specifically Myspace, got ahold of whatever was ‘emo,’ it really just blew apart what the word meant,” Ozzi says. “I struggle to think of a genre tag that incorporates more disparate sounds.”

That disparity promises to make this lineup as eclectic as it is historic. But plenty of tours in the age of COVID-19 have had their hiccups. In this case, safety concerns over the Omicron variant led Thursday to postpone the first 10 dates of the run.

Rochester will now be the bands’ fourth stop. For Kasher, it’s a welcome return; he’s played at Water Street Music Hall and the Bug Jar, and even performed there with his good friend Conor Oberst at an early Bright Eyes concert in the late ’90s.

Celebrating the golden days of emo past is worthwhile, but each of the acts continues to make music. That said, none are promoting a brand-new album, and Thursday’s most recent LP was released in 2011.

Kasher, ever the restless creative, is comfortable looking back at his past work and feeling accomplished, even if he prefers to keep his eye on the next deadline.

“Other than performing it live, I don't wallow in it a ton, just 'cause I'm always kind of working on the next record,” he says. After talking through his thoughts for a minute, though, he grows more animated.

“Actually, I think it's ... awesome, because for the moment you get to be an MC for everybody's nostalgia,” Kasher adds. “You're just kind of sharing in something together — and you're leading it.”

Thursday, Cursive, Jeremy Enigk, and The Appleseed Cast share the bill on Saturday, Jan. 22, at Anthology, 336 East Ave., Rochester. 7 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show. $30 (plus ticket fees. Under 16 admitted with guardian, over 16 admitted with ID. Proof of vaccination or negative lab-administered COVID -19 test (taken within 48 hours of entry) required. For tickets and information, go to anthology.com.

Patrick Hosken is a freelance writer for CITY. Feedback on this article can be directed to dkushner@rochester-citynews.com.