If emo had a Mount Rushmore, Omaha crooner Tim Kasher would, at the very least, be in consideration to have his likeness chiseled into the rock face. Through his hundreds of songs scattered across 16 celebrated albums with seminal acts Cursive, The Good Life, and his solo efforts over the last 15-plus years, the 39-year-old Kasher can still pack ballrooms and secure (at worst) middle billing at massive festivals. However, the quasi-legend opted to eschew traditional venues for his self-dubbed, “spring break tour”—which spans 12 days and as many shows in seven states—in favor of playing living rooms, basements, and other unconventional spaces.
The increasingly attempted “living room” tour format allows artists like Kasher to play to diehard fans in a handpicked locale for more money than a normal club gig, while granting said diehards enough out-of-step intimacy to win any emo kid pissing match—assuming their opponent didn’t see David Bazan, Mike Kinsella, or Rocky Votolato on a similarly booked tour, that is.
Sunday night, 60 people walked up to the sixth floor of a repurposed 1stStreet warehouse now known as Milwaukee Opry to bear witness as Kasher delighted with more than 20 songs during an endearing, almost two-hour set.
After welcoming the packed room—with a tremendous view of downtown, by the way—and thanking attendees for missing “The Walking Dead” season finale to attend, Kasher (and accompanying auxiliary instrumentalist Patrick Newberry) eased the set into motion with a stripped down version of “No Fireworks,” one of many somber solo cuts of the night. “A Raincloud Is A Raincloud,” off new-ish solo effort Adult Film, followed, trumpet parts and all. Later, Newberry would even incorporate a theremin to lend spooky support as the set transitioned into The Good Life-era material.
A bi-polar version of “O’Rourke’s, 1:20 A.M.” first lulled the dim room into a trance, only to cut the gloom with a rousing, percussive finish. Soon, Kasher would get behind his new drum kit to “just kind of fuck around on it” while singing peppy Good Life mainstay “Cold Love” like a modern Midwest Phil Collins—even awkwardly spinning a drumstick above his head for effect. “I’m playing a lot of stuff tonight,” he said. “You can throw away a song to bad drumming, right?”
When he moved back to guitar, his material shifted to Cursive. First, he strummed the beginning of Happy Hollow’s “Dorothy at Forty” until a distant creak of the ancient building halted Kasher. “What was that?” he deadpanned, feigning fright, before resuming the song and transitioning toDomestica deep cut “The Radiator Hums.”
After an array of Good Life, solo songs, and no shortage of between-song jokes, Kasher played a dismantled version of “Keely Aimee,” a song he claimed to have written in Milwaukee. As if that didn’t win over the enraptured audience enough, he then solicited requests. “Does that sound right?” Kasher laughingly asked a man situated near the back of the room who requested “Heartbroke” (off an old Good Life album). “No? Fuck it, I’m not going to play that.”
Instead, he finished with a pair of more familiar Cursive songs, “Sierra” and “From The Hips” to grant a satisfying ending to a special evening that 60 people in Milwaukee won’t soon forget.