Cass McCombs Live

Cass McCombs charms the crowd at the Garrison

Cass McCombs' show at the Garrison this Friday night was a treat for all those in attendance. The opener, Frank Fairfield — a violin and banjo-toting songwriter from California — set the stage with whimsical, southern-style tunes that had the crowd tapping their feet and clapping along with the occasional "Yip!" hollered into the night.

Cass McCombs

When McCombs and his band finally hit the stage just before midnight, the crowd was right riled-up and ready to sway to songs from his most recent release, Humor Risk. The backdrop — a glittering matrix of LED lights that sparkled like clusters of stars — left the band a mere silhouette, completely darkened in contrast to the brightness shining behind them. The result was a mysterious and stylized series of profiles that were not revealed... for the entire show.

Cass McCombs

After greeting the audience with a humble "Hi, how are you?" McCombs kicked off the set with the poppy "Love Thine Enemy." The band played with an easy charm and fluidity demonstrative of a well-rehearsed stage show and great musicianship. Though I'm certain every audience member secretly hoped that the lights would eventually be turned up, the lack of emphasis on the band themselves allowed the music to take center stage.

Cass McCombs

The hour-long set was a dynamic one, slipping fluidly between slower, seductive jams like "Meet me at the Mannequin Gallery," to the high-energy "I cannot lie," which finished off the show. Ever the idiosyncratic songwriter, McCombs' lyrics were often underpinned by hilarious nuggets of profound ridiculousness ("Satan is my toy/ Jesus is my boy," for example). The comedic gems woven into a repertoire that is oft noted for its sense of dejection and bleak outlook ("AIDS in Africa" from his first full-length A jumps to mind), were a nice surprise and at times had the audience laughing out loud.

Cass McCombs

McCombs' show, though shrouded in darkness, was exceptional. The easy and comfortable atmosphere created by the band brought a sense of homey-ness to the Garrison on Friday night — a feat that isn't easy to accomplish. As I watched fans of all ages swaying gently with smiles on their faces, even as the show reached one o' clock in the morning, I felt certain that Cass McCombs will always have a dedicated audience wherever he goes, for as long as he continues to make music.

Photos by Nick Warzin


Latest Videos



Latest Videos


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in Music

Toronto is home to Taylor Swift dance parties and there's a very special one coming up

Toronto band appearing on Jimmy Kimmel this week

Jennifer Lopez announces Toronto stop on upcoming North American tour

Huge electronic music festival is coming back to Toronto this summer

Usher is performing in Toronto for the first time in a decade

Canada's last Sam the Record Man could close and bring about end of brand

Famous post-grunge band that's become a huge meme announces Toronto tour date

Justin Timberlake adds Toronto tour date after angry fans lashed out