Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dinner And A Show

Pelican / Black Cobra / Sweet Cobra
The Independent, San Francisco
October 27, 2009

Umlaut rolled over to The Independent EARLY (like, 5:30pm)... mainly so I could get some hangtime with my bruthas Black Cobra but also to avoid the pain of trying to park later in the evening. Parking around The Independent is THE worst for any venue in S.F.. Awful. However, my effort paid off as I scored a parking space no more than 100 feet from the venue's entrance. Appropriately, as I got out of the Prius, Black Cobra (Jason and Rafa) were just finishing their load-in, so meeting up with them was just... that... easy. I hadn't seen the lads since just before they left for their 17-date Japan / Australian tour over a month ago so it was good seeing them again... and this show was only the 6th one in their current 24-city U.S. trek with Pelican that runs into December. Road Dogs!

During soundcheck I realized that the thought of getting food afterwards is the best part of a soundcheck if you're not in the band. Dude, I was starving... but the band's run through of the new song 'Chronosphere' sounded really good.

While the band finalized their gear and merch setup, I met up with Dave outside and we headed down the block to Fly, where we were soon joined by the Road Dogs Rafa and Jason. Over dinner we discussed Black Metal, recent Horror movies, and the band's just-completed tour of Japan and Australia. It was cool spending some time with my bruthas just shooting the shit... Not long into the meal, Rafa's friend arrived and informed us that the fucking Bay Bridge was shut down because a cable had snapped, smashed some cars, and generally the entire Bay Area had been thrown into chaos. Metal.

Oddly this leg of the tour featured another band with "cobra" in their name; when was the last time you saw that? Sweet Cobra from Chicago were the first band on... and they were alright... but for whatever reason I kept flashing back to Unsane and that awesome 90's band from Austin, Ed Hall, during their set. Now, I'm not really saying that's who they sound like.. I'm just saying those are the references that flashed in my head as I 50% watched them and 50% went to the bar... Just being honest.

I've ranted about Rafa and Jason in this space plenty of times and how they're simply a force of nature onstage... and I've said before how I trip on how their timings and song structures are more akin to Jazz than Metal. That being said, Black Cobra's new material takes them to even higher levels, with added dynamics that few (if any) 2 piece bands can pull off. Watching them again tonight from up close, I was also profoundly reminded what a tight unit these two musicians are... Not to get too deep into their lives, but Rafa and Jason's brotherhood / friendship is not unlike Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee's (but without the furry feet and homoerotic undertone). They interact onstage in a way that few bands do... They don't speak to one another, but their cues are simply a nod or a look... It's pretty inspiring to watch such mayhem and creativity being performed in such a natural and honest way. The two of them form an aural fist that bludgeons in a way that pulverizes your insides, but your skin isn't broken so there's no blood.... at least that's how Black Cobra live makes me feel. For the record, the band's new song 'Lightning In His Hand' just might be my favorite song of the year.

Wow... after Black Cobra I knew I wasn't going to be engaged by Pelican... Sorry, just being honest. Pelican sounded good during their soundcheck, but granted I was standing outside of the club on the sidewalk talking to Rafa and Jason at the time. I'm not completely sold on Metal bands who play all instrumentals... There needs to be something more for me to get my head around than simply riffs and drumming no matter how good the riffs might be. Pelican are all good musicians, but within minutes of them hitting the stage I kept waiting for a singer to hit the stage... and for me, any Metal instrumental has to be compared to Iron Maiden's classic instrumentals 'Genghis Khan' and 'Transylvania' and I've yet to hear anything to match those. Sorry... just being honest.

Anyway... It was a great night centered around friends as much as volume, since many Umlaut friends were in the house to support Black Cobra. Bottom line: It was nice to welcome the boys home... even if it was for only one night. Keep it real and safe out there you Road Dogs! See you in December..

If you had bought one of each Black Cobra merch item you would have paid just over $100. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. Umlaut docked the Prius back at Casa de Umlaut at just past 10:30pm... a surgically precise, feel good evening.