Cass McCombs Doesn’t Want You to Vote


Cass McCombs Doesn’t Want You to Vote

by Kellen Shover


Cass McCombs and his band (creatively dubbed The Cass McCombs band) took the stage underground in the back-alley Valley Bar. The early start didn’t stop him from exciting his audience however, as he confidently played tracks from his back catalogue and new record, Mangy Love, alike.

His set opened with a roar, the massive riff heavy “Big Wheel” leading the charge. McCombs’ country influence came through with his opener, as the country twang was audible in his guitar playing while he brought forth images of the midwest through his lyrics (‘John Deere, Dynapac steamrollers, grain silos & old barns”). He expertly shifted the mood with the slightly somber and fresh “Opposite House”. Here is when you could see McCombs’ meticulous guitar playing really shine through as the airy picking persistent throughout the track hypnotized the crowd.

Cass McCombs has a cockiness to his music, but a sly one, as was evident when he jamming with the rest of his group. Multiple times while he was making eye contact with the other members, a guitar solo would come up and he would look towards the audience and put on a smirk while proceeding to nail every single note. McCombs’ and his band were always searching for the groove. Each member would find their own grooves then converge onto the greater group one, paving the way for a couple of heavy finishes to their songs. One of the grooves the group arrived at was so dissonant and they were very intentionally off. Within moments however, they were back to the connectedness of the track they had originally had launched off from (as if it had been planned all along).

McCombs’ strikes a good balance between having lyrics that are serious and sarcastic as well. He had many members of the audience in laughter after various lyrics. During one song, he even admitted to forgetting the lyrics, without breaking instrumental flow of the song. He said the important thing was to not vote, which had everyone chuckling. Cass McCombs and his band played a rocking, yet intimate show, and it is clear that he truly understands what makes an enjoyable show.