Meat Puppets - This must be about the fifth or sixth time I have seen this legendary band along with a couple of Curt Kirkwood solo shows tossed in for good measure. The first thing that is odd is that there is a second guitarist and he looked a lot like one of the Kirkwoods, and sure enough he is Curt's son and of course, Cris's nephew. His guitar work is mostly rhythm and adds a lot of heft and pace to let his older relatives do their crazy moves that have made this band famous. This set is really heavy in spite of some Freddy Fender covers and a quaint Sloop John B. The guitars were firing and the drums strong, courtesy of Doug Sahm's son Shandon (as there are interesing family connections everywhere). This band taught me and a lot of people the value of the Western side of Country & Western, although they really shared more sonic and geographic space with other desert dwellers like Kyuss. The band had its astral exploration gear on tonight and they really took off much of the time. There was even a crazed 'Black to Comm' type song that had me watching a tennis match trying to keep up with the two guitars, let alone the bass in between. Trippy, heavy fun as this 71 minute opening set flew by. I wasn't sure they would still have it, but they do, so I won't give up on them anytime soon.
Cass McCombs - This was an interesting set in that there was a clear line of demarcation for me. When McComb's second guitarist went to the pedal steel, the songs lost me. But when he played electric guitar, I found the music enchanting and I was fully engaged. This is a bias of mine that some bands can fend off with creative use of the pedal steel, but it just did not happen tonight. But to focus on what really worked, I found McCombs' songs with two guitars to be quite deep with airs of mystery that subtly pulled me in. There was almost a mototik beat in the first song that offset the moody vocals and scenic guitar work. They could rock out a bit, too and had a nice array of songs that showed some real class. The music that did less for me was not a complete turnoff and probably has more than its fair share of fans out there. I saw enough of what I did like to recommend a fair listen to his songs. There will likely be something special to grab on to, no matter what your taste as there is a lot of class here.
Photo Grab of the Day (and yes, I resort to bathroom humor when desperate).