Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cass McCombs / Meat Puppets (Black Cat, 11/3) - Review

Chilly early-November night.  14th Street quiet in a Sunday-night kind of way.  Tall boys of PBR, reading Amanda Petrusich's Do Not Sell at Any Price at the bar, waiting for the show to begin..   A fantastic telling of a story that resonates:  falling, hard, for old music in a new age.  And peeling back the layers upon layers.  Feeling slightly jealous..  like it's the book I've wanted to write, but haven't.  Or at least there are pieces of me in it.  Which is what it is.. 

But then, the lights dim and I moved to the front of the room.  I honestly didn't know much about the Meat Puppets beyond the fact they wrote Lake of Fire which Kurt covered oh so well on that MTV Unplugged album I've played regularly for the last 20 years.  And that I always thought fit quite neatly with Clarence Ashley's Cuckoo - something about that fourth day of July line..

But they came out hard and loud.  Louder than I'd imagined.  But the guitar work was incredible..  and then came Plateau.  And Oh Me.  And I realized their sound was deeper and wilder and sweeter than I'd imagined.  They threw in a cover of Freddy Fender's "Before the Last Teardrop Falls" - a Texas classic.  Then Willie & Ray's "Seven Spanish Angels."  And I felt like I was back in Austin - this mix of intensity and psychedelia and soulful Tex-Mex waltz.  All breathing next to each other. 

They ended on a sincere cover of Sloop John B. and all seemed right with the world..  

And then, the much hyped Cass Mccombs came out.  Looking a bit like Conor Oberst.  With a band (with pedal steel!) - and dense, rich lyrics that got lost in the sound.  It was good stuff - but lacking a core of excitement, of interest, of electricity.  My mind wandered.  It was late..  and I rolled out mid-set.  Maybe if I knew the words..  maybe next time.  Maybe.

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