At the end of the South Park
episode where the Cure's Robert Smith defeats a giant, monstrous Barbra Streisand—she plays “Mecha-Streisand” to his “Smithra” in a battle of Godzillian proportions—Kyle yells, “Disintegration
is the best album ever!” as Smith walks off into the sunset. It's an unabashed declaration of love for the Cure's 1989 gloom-pop masterpiece, and it sums up how I was feeling Sunday night at the Gorge Amphitheater's Sasquatch! Festival.
Amid all my excitement over Austin folk-rockers Okkervil River, Modest Mouse and electro-pop ravers Ghostland Observatory, I'd sold short my Cure fanhood. But after Death Cab For Cutie finished its last set on Saturday, which culminated in an epic performance of “Transatlanticism” that found the whole crowd chanting “come ah-ah-on” as the sun dipped below the Columbia River Gorge's rolling hills, I was positively giddy. Robert Smith and crew were about to come on, and I found myself humbled and surprised at how I'd brushed off the weekend's most legendary headliners (R.E.M. closed out the previous night).
After Death Cab, I had thought, man, that's a tough act to follow. What's the Cure gonna do? Then, I realized: duh, they're gonna play “Love Song” and “Just Like Heaven.” They're gonna wear ridiculous hairdos and outfits (guitarist Porl Thompson looked decidedly ghoulish in alienlike black eye-paint). They're gonna rock the Gorge's expansive stage with equally expansive sounds and a voice that's so pop culture-familiar it seems insane to hear it live, in person. They're gonna be awesome. And they're gonna blow the ears right off Death Cab—a band that has a lot in common with the Cure: Dreamy soundscapes? Check. Poignant lyrics? Check. Irresistible pop hooks? Check. Locked-down bass grooves and inventive, busy guitar? Double check.
I imagined DCFC frontman Ben Gibbard, who's not much older than I, listening to Disintegration
in his first car, lamenting lost high-school loves to the tune of “Pictures of You,” and I realized this show was a dream come true for both of us—the chance to joyfully revisit a legend with no shame. Because, unlike so many bands that've survived a handful of decades, the Cure is still good. Even on songs I was less familiar with, the band's complex, textured rock was entirely captivating, and those old faves were downright magical: All of the above-mentioned tracks were delivered with fervor, as if the Cure hadn't played them thousands of times, as if they were excited to show us how excellently they could be executed. They also played a killer “Fascination Street” and an unexpected, amped-up second encore of “Boys Don't Cry.”
They even looked cool, not like old guys awkwardly dressed up as rock stars, but like actual rock stars. Because that's what they are. And when Smith occasionally said, “Q!” (that's British for “thank you,” apparently, as in, “(than)-kyou!”), I couldn't help but feel he should've been saying, “You're welcome.”
Read a play-by-play of Amy's Sasquatch! adventures—including Shaky Hands butt grabbing, Wren cameos and bacon bartering— right here