The Good Life
There were only about a hundred people who were in the Constellation Room for the Good Life's set at 9:00 on Thursday night, but that wasn't a problem for the Midwestern four-piece.
The set kicked off with highlights like "Needy," "You Don't Feel Like Home to Me," and "Holy Shit" as guitarist/vocalist/founder Tim Kasher, bassist Stefanie Drootin (whose other Saddle Creek band, Big Harp, served as one of the openers), and company reintroduced Santa Ana to their unique brand of indie rock.
It was about halfway through "How Small We Are" that I fully realized one of the things Kasher's fans most appreciate about his songwriting expertise. Every tune, from "Lovers Need Lawyers" to "O'Rourke's, 1:20 A.M." (both of which were played by the band as I formulated the thought), is a beautifully crafted multi-layered track (both lyrically and musically), but they're all still just a little bit chaotic.
While others spend time perfectly balancing the rhythms, melodies, lyrical content, and more, Kasher is a master at creating an equally flawless song that contains just a bit of organized mayhem. Whether it's lyrics that don't necessarily rhyme and flow together or a musical breakdown that entirely changes the direction of a song, Kasher's figured out how to go against the grain and make it work when creating a song.
By the time the group reached roughly the midpoint of their set with "A Dim Entrance" and "The Troubadour's Green Room," Kasher had already personally bantered, joked, and interacted with more fans than you'd expect from anyone with his longevity and track record of success. While Cursive may sell out bigger shows, the Good Life (and his solo work) seems to be Kasher's opportunity to get some more personal time with his fans.
Over the course of the next two tracks ("The Beaten Path" and "Notes in His Pocket"), Kasher, Drootin, and guitarist Ryan Fox all showed off the diversity of their musical skills by switching instruments. First Drootin switched to keyboard while Fox moved to bass, and then Fox and Drootin moved back to their original instruments while Kasher took over on the keys.
Arguably the highlight of the night came toward the end of "Notes in His Pocket" when Kasher brought the microphone stand down from the stage with him and walked through the crowd belting out the lyrics among his fans. While there were only a couple dozen folks who truly knew the words to most of the Good Life's songs, it was hard to find anyone in the room who didn't at least appreciate the band's performance.
After getting situated on his guitar again, Kasher made the self-aware air-quoted comment that they had "one song left" before breaking into "Forever Coming Down" and then breaking for maybe the best "encore" to ever grace the Constellation Room.
Seeing as there's not much of a backstage area for the Observatory's smaller setup (and that everyone realizes most rock headliners will play an encore these days), the Good Life's members all turned their backs to the crowd as Kasher joked everyone should pretend they were backstage. Following a quick celebratory shot and an intentionally funny discussion over whether they should play an encore or not (bonus points for the Outsiders reference), the band "returned" (see: turned back around) for a fantastic discussion about shirts and three more songs (including "Album of the Year" and "Empty Bed") before informing everyone they'd be available to hang out and talk in the lobby after the show.
And for all the Cursive fans who expected to hear The Ugly Organ, you should all grow to appreciate what Kasher does with his other bands. Why? Well, 'cause (regardless of who else is performing it) we all know art is hard.