Friday, February 05, 2010

It Will Be Loud

Black Cobra
Amoeba Records, San Francisco

February 5, 2010

Twenty minutes prior to Black Cobra taking the stage at Amoeba there was nobody standing in the area of the stage... Just a couple of random dudes looking at the Oldies CDs.. but they soon moved on. Umlaut was the total lone dork standing right at the front waiting for the set to begin as Rafa and Jason did their obligatory "What's in My Bag" video interview "backstage" for the Amoeba website. Thankfully, within the next several minutes members of the Umlaut Nation arrived to join me... so a shout out to Lori, Richard, Mark, Lynn, and Hard Rock Chick. Just prior to Black Cobra's arrival onstage, a PA announcement was made that told customers an in-store performance was about to begin and that "it will be loud" and earplugs were available at The Information Desk... and with that The Volume Beast was unleashed!

This was Black Cobra's first performance since completing their marathon 3 month Japan / Australia / U.S. Tour at the end of last year. They were allotted 35-40 minutes to ruin the shopping experience of Amoeba's non-Metal customers... and it was a task they dove into with uninhibited lust and for a second, as the firestorm started, I realized I had forgotten what a force of nature the band is onstage... because a volume fury like this is something that almost transcends human comprehension. Black Cobra offers clarity through volume for those who believe.. or to quote the band's own words: "Break the barrier... nothing is unreal... mind's eye carrier... sacred light revealed."

Pic by Umlaut

Clarity through volume, man... Clarity through fucking volume.

It was really cool watching Rafa and Jason from 4 feet away without being shoved from behind or landed on from above by the usual concert crowd. That being said, it was also cool to see a sizable crowd had gathered in the aisles to watch the show... There were some older Punk / Metal scenesters and at least one such couple with a baby in tow.. and I'm sure they were all thankful to be able to hit a show before dinnertime. Hope we die before we get old. The only reality check was the Crusty Dude with the Mayhem logo painted on the back of his leather who stood next to us and whose aroma of unwashed body, hair, and black denim was, like, *real*... a bit too real actually.. but he was obviously a Black Cobra fan so it was all good.

One thing about watching Black Cobra in this intimate setting was I could really focus on their subtle dynamics and also really watch Jason's human form become one with his Les Paul and effects board and Rafa's human form merge with his drum kit and his hands and arms becoming a constant blur as they broke the sound barrier. Very few musicians become *one* with their instruments onstage the way Black Cobra does; most musicians simply "play" their instruments. It's fascinating and incomprehensible at the same time. When I watch Black Cobra perform I can't believe there is so much energy and creativity wasted by humans on soulless, bullshit disposable music (cue Nickelback or The Black Eye Peas). Black Cobra are pure energy that can be traced directly back to that moment when humans first realized that if you stuck your hand into an open flame it would hurt.. and the smell of burning human flesh was both repulsive and somehow strangely appetizing... What? Oh, like you've NEVER had that thought! Whatever...

Anyway, after their set Jason and Rafa served as game show hosts when they selected the winner of a sa-weet Southern Lord prize package:

Pic by Umlaut

The winner was some dude from Berkeley... Umlaut's post performance conversation with Jason included the following exchange:

Umlaut: You were totally channeling Nugent up there, man...
Jason: The Nuge? Yeah... Gotta keep it interesting, right?

We stopped next door at Murio's (cue drunken scary, blurry Jäger-fueled blurry scary drunken memories from many years past) for a $3 Happy Hour German beer.. but the drunk stranger in an overcoat who hovered over the girls in our group was a total buzzkill. After saying my goodbyes, I stopped in The Mission at Truly Mediterranean for some takeout... and I saw an ex-girlfriend from almost, like, 19 YEARS ago! Holy shit, let's do time warp again... Needless to say, I made a quick retreat back to Casa de Umlaut and the 21st Century.

Anyway, kudos to Amoeba for not making Black Cobra compromise on their volume and for also letting the band sell their merch after the performance. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called me a fag. Cheers to my brothers in Black Cobra, Jason and Rafa... and Umlaut is stating here publicly that, dudes, we have to seriously hang out again before you're back out on The Road in the very near future. First round is on me.