White Denim & Cass McCombs at Fitzgerald's, 4/5/2014
Expectations are a tricky thing that can easily make or break any situation. In many years of showgoing I've learned that high expectations can easily spoil your day, but it's hard to have absolutely zero; especially if it's not your first time seeing a band.
So it's better to lower any expectations, and when White Denim came to Fitz Saturday night I did my best to try and forget about my previous experience with them. But this show was different. Walking up the stairs, you could feel a much different energy coursing through the room.
People were definitely in the building to have a good time. And while that might have hurt some of the show's quieter moments, when it picked up so did the moods of everyone inside.
Opener Cass McCombs was literally entrancing people from the beginning of his set. It was somewhat of an odd billing as McCombs could've easily held his own at the top by his lonesome, and the only similarity between he and White Denim were the amount of people in each band. But that didn't stop him from making a few new fans from the crowd predominately there to hear the headliners.
McCombs doesn't come around too often, and was here for the first time since a gig in Fitzgerald's smaller room more than two years ago. But he has a dedicated fan base in town, and for good reason. the Californian singer-songwriter is just really good at what he does.
While his recorded work is sometimes a bit on the slower side, McCombs' live show was an entirely different animal. Backed by a solid three-piece, including one of the most fun drummers I've seen in a while, McCombs transformed his sleepy folk tunes into downright rockers.
The art of improvisation is all but absent in the world of indie-rock, so for a group heavily in that scene to employ it in to their live show was a breath of fresh air. And while a solo act can sometimes come off as "everyone look at me," that never happened Saturday as each member had more than ample time to shine with his respective instrument.
And while I can't name his songs off like many a person in attendance, I certainly can tell you that the band put a new twist to each and every one. Even entertaining his own request, McCombs gave us an understated, yet somewhat bold cover of Hank Williams' "Lost Highway" that while unexpected, was still spot-on.
And then White Denim came to the stage, surrounded by a sea of fans. They must've arrived late because when McCombs first started there was barely a crowd, and you could tell they were WD fans because they smelled better and buttoned their collars higher.
Review continues on the next page.