This show was good. The music that the bands played was nice. It was rock and roll. But, one bad thing happened that night: a mean guy told me that my show reviews are too long and use a lot of big words. That made me sad. So this one will be very short and use words that are not as weird. You are welcome.
The first band was Pessimist Parade. They are from DC. They play very fast and very loud. The drummer hits the crash symbol as often as possible. The lead singer likes to fall down and holler. The guitar player wears a hat and the bass player looks like this chick that used to beat me up in middle school. If I was 17 and they were playing in a basement and I had taken some pills that some dude found in his mom’s medicine cabinet I would have jumped around and punched my friends in the head to this band before going to throw up on the lawn. As it was they just seemed a bit off—too loud and screechy without the hooks to make the speedpunk surf riffs gel together into songs. It was kind of not cool also when a bunch of their fans left right after they played. But on whole they get the “Band I’d Most Like to Huff Glue with on a Playground” award for 2007.
Then the next band was called the Ambitions. They are also from DC. The lead singer has what some older guys who work in guitar stores would call “chops,” meaning she sounds like Aretha Franklin. She also dances like Tina Turner, except actually more animated. The music is a pretty perfect balance of 1960s soul-pop with garagey keyboards and guitars. On record that perfection can sound a bit over-produced, but at this show they cranked up the rawness and the energy and got people dancing almost right away. At one point I looked around and some boogieing crowd members were intent on their feet instead of the stage, which in my mind is a huge compliment to a band that might be comfortable asking an audience to do the Mashed Potato. They didn’t ask, but I did the Mashed Potato anyway, as well as the Shingaling and a combination of the twist and the jerk that I call the Gist. It looks retarded, but is very fun to do, so please keep your comments to yourself.
Larry was there, the guy who is at every punk rock-and-roll show in the area that features cute or semi-cute women, and he took a lot of pictures. Also in attendance were a large number of Those Virginia Folks, the people formerly known as Yuppies. I don’t know what one calls them now (PFKAYs?) but they seemed intent on interpreting the Detroit Cobras as slightly more rocking version of G Love and Special Sauce. Please be nice to these people and do not make fun of their shoes or the way their women stick their arms up and look at their own shoulders when they dance. They buy T-shirts.
The Detroit Cobras started out the show somewhat sedately, with their more soulful songs like Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand. The thing about them is—they are not a garage punk band. They know lots of punk rock people, and their older albums have garage rock elements, and they look like a garage band, but they are not. This is not a bad thing at all, but some audience members (especially this one drunk asshole with a beard and large amount of whiskey in his body) seemed to think that it was “moshpit time,” even though it was clearly “dance (with or without elevated arms) time.” The PFKAYs had the right idea, many of them were grinding like G Love had just asked them to Stick it In The Fridge. Lead singer Rachel Nagy did tell us (with her amazing scratchy voice that is as sexy when speaking as it is on record) that her sister works for the government, and that they had their fingers on the button, and that she would probably nuclear bomb us if we didn’t start acting crazier. Her stage antics with guitarist Mary Ramirez are awesome, they act like two competitive sisters, slapping asses and trying to crack each other up. Over the years their sound has shifted a lot towards the soul side, and the drum sound is a huge part of it, with new(ish) addition Kenny Tudrick (also a member of Kid Rock’s posse) playing lots of toms and a deep, bassy snare than evokes Booker T more than DMZ. It’s real rock-and-roll, but it’s not rock-and-fucking-roll. But I like it.
As the show went on they moved into their louder and faster stuff, an escalation that mimicked the graph of amount of shots per hour. Whoops, sorry about the math joke...I mean, they played harder the more they (and we) drank. It was that bartender-guy-with-the-long-hair’s birthday, and they brought him onstage and sang to him and then stole his champagne. When they came back out for the encore, Mary emerged first, grinning, with 6 bottles of Yuengling rattling in both hands. In conclusion, the Detroit Cobras are a band of many contrasts. Simple and straightforward and unpretentious yet subtle and restrained and delicious, this show kicked my ass harder than the hangover I had on Saturday afternoon.
all photos: Page Billauer