Cass McCombs at The Belmont: Live Review

Cass_McCombs-16Hey, we did everything we could to get you our for the Cass McCombs show on Friday night. If you missed it, it’s on you. And if you were worried about the cold and rain, The Belmont ended up moving the show inside, so we were treated to a room full of warm bodies who shared an unspoken camaraderie as we watched one of independent music’s best songwriters perform. McCombs possesses an aloofness onstage, speaking with the audience infrequently, hiding behind hair that almost covers his eyes, and gazing off to one side or at the floor as he plays. Perhaps its just that he focuses so completely on his songs, as the arrangements and performances were immaculate.

Cass_McCombs-5Cass McCombs inspires a deep and fervent love as the response elicited by just mentioning the songwriter to those who are fans will indicate. One fan standing front at center at Friday’s show exhibited this by mouthing along to every song with a smile plastered on his face. I have to say I was pretty moved by the guy–completely respectful as to not compete with McCombs and not to distract those around him, but entirely engrossed in the songs. I’ve read a few posts in recent months down on Austin crowds (and it’s understandable), but this can serve as some positive behavior reinforcement; the crowd at the Belmont was completely respectful and engaged.

Cass_McCombs-13Most of the set’s material was culled from more recent albums such as his most recent LP Big Wheel and Others; those songs included set opener and title track “Big Wheel” as well as “Name Written In Water,” “There Can Be Only One,” and “Angel Blood.” McCombs also reached back to 2011’s Wit’s End for “County Line” and even further to his first two albums PREfection and A for “Sacred Heart” and “What Isn’t Nature” respectively.

Pink_Nasty-2Earlier in the evening Pink Nasty opened the night with a set of crunchy power pop songs. I’ve seen Pink Nasty perform a ton over the years, usually solo or with a drummer, but for Friday night’s show the band operated as a four-piece. Most of the Americana and folk tinges from her earlier songs have faded and lean indie rock defines the arrangements. I’ve seen Pink Nasty on a few bills lately, so I’m supposing that the long-time Austin songwriter is becoming active once again in the scene. Check out some photos from the evening below.

All photos © Bryan Parker & Pop Press International. Click any image to open in slideshow viewer.

About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

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