Happenings /// Cass McCombs at High Watt, 10/19

crowd“Hey. What’s up? How’s it going?” is about as much banter as anyone would find at a Cass McCombs show, and as far as the Concord, California genre-bending native is concerned, that’s all a show needs. Outside of the introduction of his band, McCombs opted for untroubled grins in between songs rather than diatribes or anecdotes, simply letting the music take the proverbial center stage (which in all reality should always come first during a show, but I digress).

In the midst of a seemingly endless Fall run of dates in support of his excellent 2016 release, Mangy Love, McCombs and his mates play with a slick civility that fits the sort of black room gentility that Mangy Love exudes, as the band opened with a smooth take on lead single “Oppositie House.” Flirting with a sort of jazz-y psychedelic noir sound, McCombs’ dreamy guitar riffs and the coinciding Wurlitzer and Roland work on each track transported the High Watt crowd to a groovy astral plane reserved for spectral gazing and lonesome pensiveness.

Following “Opposite House” with Mangy Love lead-off “Bum, Bum, Bum,” McCombs flirted with apocalyptic musings grounded by rough realism as flecks of spacelight bounced throughout the set with some truly exceptional Wurlitzer work – a feature of McCombs’ live set that hammers home the languid dreaminess of McCombs’ timbre. McCombs and co continued to run through tracks off of Mangy Love – “Medusa’s Outhouse” and “Cry,” both featuring solid instrumental break downs in the rhythm section and synth sections (a recurrent theme).

tuneMcCombs’ live set is magnificently pocket, with each person on-stage – auxiliary percussionist included – were immeasurably important to reproducing the tracks from Mangy Love, A Folk Set Apart, Big Wheel and Others, Humor Risk, Wit’s End, and the rest of McCombs’ discography in all its psych country gaze glory. There were more than a few moments in the set where anyone in attendance might have yearned for some sort of witty repartee or extended stage/crowd discourse between McCombs and the crowd, but realistically, a show such as McCombs’ doesn’t require some sort of clever quip or debonair sweet-talking to maintain the audience’s attention.

McCombs and his band make for an evening so beguiling on the merit of the music alone that any sort of excessive commentary or droning on and on about this or that would most certainly detract from the show. Instead, McCombs offers the bare minimum in banter as a means to send the audience into a spectral haze of ultraviolet sound waves and pensiveness. So while “Hey. What’s up? How’s it going?” may not be the most riveting of banter to have anything more at Cass McCombs’ show would have soiled an altogether stellar evening.

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