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Future of the Left Concert, T.T. the Bear’s (Bonus Haul: Curses)

One thing I love about T.T. the Bear’s: they post set times on the calendar page of their web site. Seven or eight years ago I would’ve been to the venue early, ready to get my money’s worth and see every band, but as I approach 30, I just want to see the band I care about and go home. Sure, I’ll see the occasional opener, since it’s easy enough to listen to a minute of an unknown opener’s song on MySpace and decide if they’re worth an hour of my time, but I’ve stood through enough excruciatingly boring/derivative/awful bands in my life to gladly accept any way out of that situation. Hell, for this show I didn’t even have to stay out too late, since New Zealand garage rockers the Datsuns headlined, and I was all too happy missing out on their set. Crotchety old man night!

As I mentioned in my review of Future of the Left’s Travels with Myself or Another, I’m regrettably late to the Andy Falkous party, which means that he’s going to spear my back with his headstock, bellow some foul things about immediate family members, and use my name as evidence in a future song. Not that I’d mind any of that, since Mclusky and Future of the Left are founded upon an intoxicating combination of dark humor and impending violence, and the latter’s tendency to use real names in their songs might earn me indie rock infamy.

Future of the Left’s set initially stumbled due to sound issues during personal favorite “Arming Eritrea,” but they soon plowed through an excellent set of songs from both LPs. “Land of My Formers” was a particular highlight, but the periodic bursts of incoherent noise coming from Falco’s mouth can make any song memorable.

A brief anecdote about the crowd: to little surprise, a Future of the Left show is a total sausage party, even devolving into a mosh pit later in the set. Yet the highlight came from one of the few ladies in attendance. A couple was standing near me, and it was painfully obvious that he’d probably said something like “Hey you’ll love this band! They’re right up your alley!” knowing full well they’re not or “But I went to see the Great Lake Swimmers with you!” resulting in his girlfriend being dragged along. Her pouting faces culminated in a great under-the-breath comment: after Andy Falkous made another humorous, likely insulting aside between songs, she scoffed, “You know, not everything is funny when you have an accent!” It’s too bad she didn’t say it loud enough for Falkous to hear, or perhaps good for her boyfriend, whose shame would’ve filled T.T.’s.

106. Future of the Left – Curses LP – Too Pure, 2007 – $15

Future of the Left's Curses

As great as Travels with Myself and Another is, I suspect that part of the critical fondness for it stems from sleeping on Curses, a great album on its own accord. Switching from the departed Mclusky to his new group, Future of the Left, Andy Falkous must’ve suffered through brand development and recognition issues. “You mean there are keyboards now? And the name is different?” Beyond those betrayals, the differences between Mclusky and FOTL are relatively minor: drummer Jack Eggleston remains, but former Jarcrew bassist Kelson Mathia takes over for Jonathan Chapple, who formed Shooting at Unarmed Men. The songs are cleaner and tighter. That’s about it. If you enjoyed the snotty indie punk of Mclusky and Falkous’s sense of humor, you’re bound to like Future of the Left.

Curses starts off with the grinding, abrasive “The Lord Hates a Coward,” which contains both a choice non-sequitur (“She’s got a lot of pickled onions / Hanging from her thighs”) and a potentially inflammatory chant of “Violence she solved everything.” Single “Manchasm” uses that dreaded keyboard in a tale about Welsh recording studio owner Mark Foley, which changes midway to embrace a vocal round of “Colin is a pussy / A very pretty pussy cat.” “Suddenly It’s a Folk Song” turns a woozy keyboard part into a surprisingly melodic admission that “Suddenly folk songs are part of our future.” “Kept by Bees” thumps along with vocals and drums only for most of its runtime, a minimalistic songwriting trick that sounds a bit like an evil Broadway song. “Adeadenemyalwayssmellsgood” is a highlight of their live set and sounds equally enormous here, starting with a layered “Roll on…” and swooping in for the kill with a Kelson Mathias scream.

Curses isn’t quite as consistent as Travels with Myself and Another—“Fuck the Country Alliance” plods too much, “Team : Seed” would be better off as a b-side, and the aptly titled piano closer “The Contrarian” is more of a temporary amusement—but I’ve gone back to it countless times, so these missteps aren't too damaging. If you enjoy Mclusky Do Dallas or Future of the Left’s Travels, there’s no reason to avoid this album.