Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: Cass McCombs

Last Saturday night there were a lot of great shows in Austin to choose from. All the kids were over at the Mohawk for the Starfucker show, meanwhile the grown-up were down the street watching Cass McCombs on the inside stage. I wasn't sure how full the show was going to be but I was pleased to walk into a completely packed room just as support act Frank Fairfield was starting his old-timey, one man folk show. The audience was very attentive and Frank put on a good performance. It wasn't really my thing but the crowd erupted in cheers and applause at the end of every song so, clearly, has some fans in Austin.

Cass McCombs started about 10 minutes later than he was scheduled for, with a full backing band that included a steel guitar/guitar, bass, keys and drums. I spotted Erica from the Heartless Bastard enjoying the show along with lots of other Austin scenesters. Cass opened with Equinox from his 2007 album PREfection triggering lots of hooting and hollering from the audience. I, for one, didn't expect to hear an older song so soon in the set but for Cass McCombs fans, that song is a classic and a great opening number. The set culled tracks from Cass' full catalog, including his latest single Bradley Manning.

Cass McCombs - Bradley Manning via Soundcloud

Overall, I had a great experience at the show. The crowd was rapt and mostly attentive throughout the performance and I found myself really paying attention to the lyrical content of the songs. Cass McCombs' songs exist in their own universe and when you see him perform live it's, somewhat, like living in a David Lynch film. The mood of the songs is much thicker in person than on record and they evoke a very dream-like feeling. I hate to try to pin down the music with a genre because it straddles several but Saturday night I was thinking that there was a psychedelic-country-soul thing going on and that seemed quite fitting at the moment.

The set closed with one of the greatest songs of 2011, County Line and I could help thinking that it sounded like a soul record through an American filter. I would love to hear an artist like Charles Bradley re-imagine the tune to enhance it's soul-music qualities. Cass McCombs is still on tour through March so, if you're reading this from outside of Austin you should head out to the following places to have your own Lynch-ian moment with Cass and Co.

  • 01-20 Saxaphaw, NC - Haw River Ballroom *
  • 01-21 Baltimore, MD - Ottobar *
  • 01-22 Philadelphia, PA - Kung Fu Necktie *
  • 01-25 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom *
  • 01-26 Montreal, Quebec - Il Motore *
  • 01-27 Toronto, Ontario - The Garrison *
  • 01-28 Detroit, MI - Pike Room *
  • 01-29 Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall *
  • 01-30 Madison, WI - High Noon *
  • 02-01 Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry *
  • 02-02 Omaha, NE - The Waiting Room *
  • 02-03 Denver, CO - Hi-Dive *
  • 02-04 Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court *
  • 03-05 Manchester, England - Band on the Wall
  • 03-07 Liverpool, England - Leaf Cafe Bold St.
  • 03-09 London, England - Union Chapel
^ with White Magic
* with Frank Fairfield

Cass McCombs - County Line video via YouTube

Charles Bradley - The World (Is Going Up in Flames) video via YouTube