"I think a house party is probably the purest way to experience a band—it's our favorite setting to play in," says Iceage Cobra frontman Jordan West. We're talking via phone on the Sunday after his band played a well-attended Saturday-night blowout held at the north Seattle house he and his band share with their close friends and frequent billmates Thee Emergency. The official cause for celebration was the birthday of Emergency vixen Dita Vox, but there was a distinct sense of anticipatory revelry for the Cobra kids: Their debut record, Brilliant Ideas from Amazing People (Heavy Soul), dropped October 10. Recorded just two months ago with the help of Orbit Audio owner and engineer Joe Reineke, the assertively titled disc spills over with the tightly wrought power chords and feel-good, hard-rock barrages that have earned these Spokane transplants a devout and obscenely energetic following.
What's remarkable about that fan base was in full effect on Saturday. Most young bands don't draw such a broad range of ages right out of the gate, but Iceage Cobra had multiple generations pogo-ing toward potential whiplash in that basement, with old-school veterans such as former Stanwood Hotel owner Bobby Trash rocking out alongside success-minded scenester Ben Lashes and an exuberant collection of budding Gen-Y punks. Perhaps this is because the band's broadly appealing sound is a seamless mix of classic rock and soul elements with spirited punk punch, but there's also something to be said for the sheer energy of their live delivery.
West began the show with a broad smile and tentative strum of his guitar, his head wrapped with a carefully folded white bandana. However, as they launched into "Weapon of Mass Seduction," the bandana flew off instantly, freeing up his long straight hair to turn into a windmill and causing the closely crowded partygoers to initially step back, then lunge forward, fists in the air and heads banging in unison. It was quite a sight.
It's also a reaction West has been striving toward since his teens, and one he knows is important for the band's spiritual endurance. "I went to local shows nonstop in high school. I remember seeing a [now-defunct Portland] band called Orchi Bort and watching the singer smashing his microphone into his head until blood was running down his face," he recalls when I ask him about his formative experiences at live shows. "The only attitude I want to have is to play every show like it's my last one," he says. "I don't expect the crowd to move unless the people who are playing are moving." You can witness the Cobra's joyous chaos this Friday, October 13 at the Sunset, when they play their official release party with Thee Emergency, the Cops, and the Slats. The underage crowd can catch them on Saturday, October 14, at the Paradox with Ms. Led, Scarlet Room, and Bad Love Sessions.
For those of you who can't be pried off Capitol Hill, Comet Tavern is also hosting some quality rock on Friday, October 13, when the Tripwires (featuring former members of the Model Rockets, Screaming Trees, and the Young Fresh Fellows), Press Corps (a reconstituted version of Alta May), Young Sportsmen, and the Neat will be rocking the house.
As if those shows and Bobby Bare Jr.'s appearance at Neumo's (see CD review, page 51) weren't enough for me to tackle this weekend, there's plenty to take in before and after as well. For those in search of slightly quieter, but no less passionate engagements, melancholic singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur comes to the Crocodile on Thursday, October 12, in support of his new release, Nuclear Daydream. The normally solitary Arthur is touring with a full band this time around, a treat for fans who appreciate the lush fullness of his newer recordings.
There are two very good reasons to head south to Tacoma on Sunday, October 15, when 3 Inches of Blood and Early Man play an early evening show (doors are at 5:00 p.m.) at Hell's Kitchen. 3 Inches of Blood are a melodic, metalcore blessing for those of us who can't seem to shake our love of early Metallica and Judas Priest, as are Matador Records duo Early Man. Even better, sludge-happy local heroes Mos Generator are also on the bill. Sabbath, bloody Sabbath, indeed.