Cass McCombs turned Baltimore’s Ottobar into a spacey dreamworld during his set Saturday night. In the midst of his US winter tour, he played with a full backing band, including keys, bass, guitar, pedal-steel guitar and drums. Opening was Frank Fairfield, along for the duration of the tour, and Walker and Jay.
First to the stage was the Baltimore based trio Walker and Jay. Gathered close around one microphone, with only acoustic instruments, they looked and sounded like they could have walked right out of the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?. There was an upright bass, providing the backbone and rhythm for the set, a fiddle, and the lead singer switched between playing banjo and what looked like some kind of steel guitar. Their old-timey country/bluegrass/blues was both lovely and rousing, and set an intimate mood for the evening. Continue reading →
Cass McCombs brings soulful, mellow, dreamy rock to Baltimore’s Ottobar this Saturday night. He has received high praise from the likes of John Peel and Pitchfork Media, and has performed or toured with Cat Power, Andrew Bird, Blonde Redhead & Modest Mouse among many others.
His sixth album (and second in 2011), Humor Risk, was released in November of 2011 , to much acclaim, and landed him a cover story on Fader.
I am currently addicted to the single “Love Thine Enemy,” from Humor Risk, but I can’t find that anywhere online to share, so check out “The Same Thing” also on the new album.
I almost did not go to this concert. A big deadline at my day job had me completely exhausted and the thought of a round-trip drive to Baltimore weighed heavily on me all afternoon. The tiredness and sense of drive-dread continued into the early evening. In fact at about 8:30, I posted this on twitter: “My day job killed me today. Trying to dig deep to make the drive to B’More for the EARTH concert but…#AllSignsPointToNo”.
Then a response tweet from MetalChris of DC Heavy Metal intervened a few seconds later to gave me the motivation I needed to drag my weary self out to my car. “You can do it man! I’ll be up there too, how often does Earth come around ya know?” Little did I know that my drive up would soon be extended by an extra hour thanks to some single lane action on 295N. By the time I got to Baltimore I was in pretty bad shape and felt like I was about to pass out.
The opening band didn’t help me feel any better. O Paon is a single woman playing guitar loops and singing so quietly that the bouncers were making audience members leave the room if they talked. Normally I would applaud this kind of enforcement, but I soon found myself and MetalChris being chastised for simply saying hello. Did I mention that O Paon’s music did nothing for me? Normally I try to be an enlightened listener, open to just about anything; but the tiredness, the crappy drive, and the fascist bouncer did not put me in a happy receptive place for O Paon’s Quebecoise mewling.
But I wasn’t there for this French-language, musical stage version of Jodie Foster’s film “Nell”; I was there to hear Dylan Carlson’s legendary instrumental metal band EARTH shake some internal organs. So after some conversation in the other room, we all returned to the main room and took up places for one of the best shows of the year.
There are more live music options than you can count on two hands happening around town and beyond this weekend. To help you cut the chaff, we’ve cooked up some concert recommendations that can’t miss. Read on about four upcoming shows that have the We Love DC stamp of approval!
Hey you! The hipster without a clue on about what to do tonight?
Head up I-95 to our northern neighbor Baltimore for The Yard Dogs Road Show at The Ottobar. This hobo themed cabaret combines vaudeville, burlesque dancers and rock and roll with sword swallowing, dolls, poetry and live music by the cartoon heavy band, Yard Dogs. Also stop by the upstairs mustache dance party that starts at 9pm and rages until 2am.
I drove up to the wonderful Ottobar in Baltimore to catch a noise-rock double-bill so too-good-to-be-true that it was as if the lords of aggression themselves had forged it. I imagine these mighty creatures in their red-glowing cave, dipping their battle-scarred fists into molten iron, before plunging them into icy mountain rapids to cool and harden. The first fist of fury they named Keelhaul. The second they fastened to the end of a tree-trunk to fashion a warhammer; this they called Unsane. For decades these two mystic weapons of pummel made their way through the mortal world wrecking havoc on any and all who encountered them. Separated for many years by the fog of war, on Saturday night these two legendary forces reunited in a furious concert that stirred the blood and let slip the dogs of war.
Noise-rock is mostly about the musical expression of one thing: aggression. It isn’t pretty music, it isn’t nice. Noise-rock doesn’t ask politely and noise-rock never ever says “I’m sorry”. Noise-rock karate-chops you in the throat and knees you in the groin. Noise-rock throws you to the ground by your shirt-collar and pummels you with telephone books. It’s angry man music and it has been too damn long since this area’s tapped into the real old-school source of the stuff. The other night Boris and Russian Circles put on an amazing display of thinking man’s metal; at Saturday night’s Keelhaul/Unsane show you were too busy dodging blunt sonic jabs and throwing fists of your own to do much thinking. While you experience a post-metal show; with a good noise-rock show you are lucky to survive. Saturday night’s concert was so damn good I barely made it out alive.