With sixteen full-length records released among this trio, and all three bands having recently issued new LPs, it wasn't a surprise that the large-ish Royale was sold to capacity weeks before the show. A small surprise was how full the venue was when hometown heroes Caspian took the stage as the opening band, filling the balconies with bone-rattling dynamics via their excellent new Waking Season record. Most instrumental/post-rock bands will be invariably compared to either Mogwai or Explosions In The Sky, and while they can't surpass the former in terms of overall composition and execution, they can certainly give the Texans a run for their money for crafting memorable riffs and hooks amidst the maelstrom of intense pummeling.
Minus The Bear (clever name once you do some easy googling) was a band I was wholly ignorant of going into the show, but their sense of well-placed hooks and strong sense of elastic band dynamics really came together for me. Boasting some of the more off the wall song titles this side of AxCx (eg, "Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse," "Get Me Naked 2: Electric Boogaloo"), they weren't afraid to add some dance rhythms to the muscle. It's not too surprising that guitarist Dave Knudsen provides some of that muscle, via his earlier work with Botch. Quite a pleasant surprise, and bonus points to bass player Cory Murchy for giving props to the locals by wearing a Caspian t-shirt.
The real lull of the evening came with the middle band, Cursive. Even with seven records to their name, their sound was a pastiche of ill-formed ideas and the complete absence of any memorable song structure, veering wildly from half-baked emo (almost making me pine for full-baked emo) to past-expiry New Wave vocal stylings. Thanks, but no thanks. At least the lanky guy standing next to me knew all the words.