Cass McCombs opened his set at a sold-out Empty Bottle Friday with the chugging new song Big Wheel and he ended with his somber 2011 classic County Line. The songs between, picked from his seven albums over a decade, highlighted McCombs consistently good songwriting and unique take on Americana.
Saying little more than thank you to the crowd for the applause, McCombs spent almost no time between songs, playing an efficient set that included some mini jams. If you’re a fan of his music, I highly recommend checking out his live show. He may not be much of a conversationalist on stage but he delivers a great performance.
Arbouretum opened the show with a fine set of heavy folk. The video below is taken from a California show performed by McCombs last month. The Empty Bottle gig featured the same glimmering backdrop.
Cass McCombs’ sprawling recent release Big Wheel and Others is the latest in a line of excellent and intriguing albums from the enigmatic singer-songwriter. Boasting 19 songs, Big Wheel also has the distinction of being by far the longest album McCombs released. On Friday, you can catch him at the Empty Bottle. Judging from his recent set lists, McCombs is going back years, drawing from all his albums and usually playing no more than three or four new songs in a night. This intimate setting should be a perfect venue.
If you’re going to the Men-Fuzz show at Logan Square Auditorium Friday, go early for openers Purling Hiss and CCR Headcleaner. San Francisco-based CCR brings the heavy, psychedelic and slightly scuzzy muck on the band’s debut Lace the Earth With Arms Wide Open. CCR, the first band, will definitely get the crowd warmed up. The show is presented by Empty Bottle.
Alex Zhang Hungtai, aka Dirty Beaches, makes dark, desolate and sometimes sinister-sounding music that could be the soundtrack for a party thrown at the underbelly of some mythical urban hellscape. And I mean that in the best possible way. The Taiwanese-born Canadian made a really good “double” album Drifters/Love is the Devil this year. With eight songs on each album, Drifters is the collection of brooding post-punk songs, while Love is the Devil features mostly instrumental and largely ambient sounds. I prefer Drifters but am intrigued how Hungtai sews the approaches together in a single live set. Dirty Beaches plays Empty Bottle Thursday.
Opening for Dirty Beaches is Sisu, a band led by Dum Dum Girls drummer Sandy Vu. While far more conventional than Dirty Beaches, Sisu is a neat mix of electronic and rock. The spirit of Sisu’s new album, Blood Tears, reminds me a little of Frankie Rose, a former member of Dum Dum Girls. I’ve lost track of the number of side projects or new bands started by either a past member of Dum Dum Girls or Vivian Girls but I also can’t think of one that I’ve disliked.
Ell V Gore gets the party started Thursday night.
Here’s a new video for Star Crawl, a song off the soon to be released Crystal Stilts’ album Nature Noir. I’ve been listening to this album and there’s reason to be excited. It’s set for release September 17.
These guys hit the Empty Bottle October 10.
Not only is Lollapalooza sold out but so are most of the official after shows. Empty Bottle says it will sell a limited number of tickets at the door for its shows. That means you could potentially still see Wavves Sunday night.
The Bottle also released a limited number of tickets online, though I expect these will go fast. Anyway, Wavves at Empty Bottle would be better than an entire day at Lolla.
This year has been an exciting one for indie female artists. Two of my top albums of 2013 are Waxahatchee’s Cerulean Salt and Savages‘ Silence Yourself. (More on the top list later.) I’m also looking forward to Tristen’s new album, Caves.
Here’s a chance to catch a couple of other exciting new artists on the same night. Torres and Lady Lamb the Beekeeper play Empty Bottle Thursday. Torres is promoting her self-titled debut. Lady Lamb is touring her new release, Ripely Pine. This should be a good show.