Cursive, Jeremy Enigk, Eastern Youth

Club Congress, Wednesday, Nov. 1

Did we like Cursive and Jeremy Enigk's openers Eastern Youth because they were good, or because they were Japanese? Was their giggling "Arigato!" after every song so endearing that they could have been playing anything, and we'd eat it up, no matter what? One moment, they had us locked in a heavy-metal embrace; the next, they were throwing sonic cheeseballs from the stage. The songs were long, complex, enthusiastic and sung in Japanese. The trio put their whole bodies into each song, and somehow engaged the attention of the all-ages crowd out on a weekday to see Cursive and Jeremy Enigk, which is no small task to accomplish, hip nationality aside.

Even after being mesmerized by Eastern Youth, the crowd was more than willing to give its soul over to former Sunny Day Real Estate headman Jeremy Enigk. Enigk's voice seems incompatible with his standard-white-dude-from-Seattle appearance: He sings, and you feel it. He sings, and you listen. Alone on stage with an electric guitar, Enigk said, "I'm Jeremy Enigk, and I'm going to sing some songs," and promptly washed the audience in warm, slightly distorted waves of melody from his first solo record, Return of the Frog Queen, and his newest one, World Waits. His cover of U2's "Running to Stand Still" was quietly amazing, and, swathed in red light as he played his electric piano, headbanging and screaming on "Shade and the Black Hat," Enigk's place in the roots of "emo" was vibrantly evident.

By the time Tim Kasher and the rest of Cursive began their set, it seemed near impossible that the music could get any better. But Cursive is a band whose live show far surpasses anything they record (and their recordings are nothing to sneeze at). Kasher commented that they were a little less "wily," because they couldn't drink onstage, which, he admitted, was "a little rough for us." But Cursive's music is dynamic enough to make up for any lacking stage banter; through songs from The Ugly Organ, Domestica and the new record, Happy Hollow, the audience sang along, screamed at all the right moments and directed even more love at the stage. In the 21-and-over section, the guys from Eastern Youth were rocking right along with beers in hand, and Jeremy Enigk leaned against the bar, smiling. Cursive's music may be cynical, but there's something optimistic about the band that brings everyone together despite their disillusionment.