Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Show Review: Cass McCombs w/ Frank Fairfield

I've got to admit that going into this show I was more excited for my first show at Haw River Ballroom than I was for the sets I was getting ready to see, however between the absolutely stellar performance from Frank Fairfield and a spot-on set from the Cass McCombs band led to an incredible evening.  For starters though it needs to be made clear how incredible Haw River Ballroom is, the aesthetics are phenomenal and the sound is just as great.  From the kids running around before the show to the attached general store, you walk through the doors and feel at home.  With only one show Haw River has become one of my favorite venues in the state,  I'd recommend going to a show there at your absolute earliest availability.  You won't be disappointed.

Coming into this show I'd heard nothing of Frank Fairfield, one of the reasons I think this set left me so captivated.  Frank Fairfield was a walking time-machine, from his demeanor and his awesome mustache to his bluegrass standards, Frank Fairfield was shredding on banjo, fiddle, and guitar throughout the night.  He had a bit of a timid stage presence until he embraced the songs and then the talent that shone through as he began to let his voice resonate throughout Haw River was incredible.  Fairfield had the perfect ability to draw back and focus on the subtleties of his instrumentation, but equally could belt out heartfelt lyrics to bluegrass classics that would shake you down to your soul.  An otherwise dreary day had a bit of life and color thrust into it with this wonderful set from Frank Fairfield.

After a short wait for Cass McCombs the band took the stage and kicked off their set with "Equinox".  After "Equinox" the band went into "Love Thine Enemy" from McCombs' latest effort, Humor Risk.  McCombs was pitch perfect throughout the set and the crowd was clearly just as wrapped up in the performance as I was, the place was mostly silent throughout the duration of McCombs' set which isn't something you can get very often at a show.  An equal mix of old and new, McCombs closed out his set with an incredible performance of "County Line".  While the Cass McCombs band put on a great performance, I feel like Frank Fairfield stole the show here.  Maybe it was just the combination of the simple links to nostalgia found in his music with the environment given off from Saxapahaw, but either way Fairfield was the name that stayed so vibrantly in my mind for the rest of the night.

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