Columbia, Maryland (08.06.04)
With a summer full of cancelled tours, Curiosa is one of the few to survive the drought of fan support. Maybe it was the right combination of bands (The Cure, The Rapture, Interpol, and Mogwai) that attracted the crowds, or maybe it was the need to see Robert Smith still rocking his make-up. Whatever the reason, I had to make the trek to Curiosa; the festival of the summer.
Before the shows started, I had a chance to talk to Auf der Maur. Melissa Auf der Maur, formerly of Hole and the Smashing Pumpkins, recently released her solo debut on Capitol and was as down to earth as one could be. We sat on the ground outside of her tour bus and started chatting. She was excited to be part of this “beautiful” thing that Robert Smith had created. Describing the crowds as “intelligent and left of center,” she was happy to know there was a crowd that was still attracted to artists that are in it for just making music. More concerned with making music that she was satisfied with then pleasing others, Auf der Maur has respectable reasons for being in the industry.
After talking to Melissa, I met the Rapture. While their music is wonderful, they were quite unpleasant folks. Surprisingly, Daryl Palumbo (of Glassjaw and Head Automatica) was exceedingly nice and full of thanks for coming out to the show.
Head Automatica kicked off the show. They had a tight set and flawless performance. I really don’t like Glassjaw, but I thoroughly enjoyed Head Automatica. High energy and adrenaline sparked their performance and ran throughout the set. They were followed on- stage by Mogwai. Now, forty-five minutes to play isn’t that long, and if you are familiar with Mogwai, you know that there will only be room for about four songs. To say the least, the Mogwai set disappointed me. Had it been longer, I could have enjoyed it, but I just can’t grasp them in a mere forty-five minutes.
The Cooper Temple Clause took the second stage next, and while I wasn’t impressed with their CD, they are impressive as a live unit. They managed to pull of five good songs in only thirty minutes. On the main stage, the Rapture began their set immediately after the end of Cooper Temple Clause. Their performance at Curiosa was sub-par compared to the other times I’ve seen them. Normally I want to get up and dance when I hear the music, but I ended up bored and despondent. Auf der Maur were the third act on the second stage and her performance was solid. In her thirty-minute slot, she managed to do a great job of getting the crowd into the music.
Interpol were the biggest disappointment of the show. I love Turn on the Bright Lights, but their live show left a lot to be desired. Just to emphasize that, don’t waste your money to see them live. All they do is stand there like they are glued to the ground; listen to their CDs, it’s a much better experience.
The last act on the second stage were Muse. While huge overseas, they have been slow to catch on in the States. Not surprisingly, they put on the best show of the night. It was a packed crowed around the stage, and they performed to every standard I had set for them. They are a great live band and their latest, Absolution, is worth your dime.
While everyone else performed either thirty or forty-five minute sets, The Curewere on stage for two hours. Robert Smith sounds just like he did when he came out, just looks a little more haggard these days. They played flawlessly, had two encores, and were altogether fabulous. There isn’t much else to say; Why? Because it’s The Cure.
All in all, the festival went along seamlessly. I commend the managers on their planning of the shows. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have to stand around to wait for the next act to start playing. It was band after band in a flawless succession. Forty dollars is worth it just to see Muse and the Cure alone.