Reignwolf at Double Door, 5.9.14
w/ Crass Mammoth and Pink Frost
To be honest, I had kind of a tough time getting this post out there because I'm not sure where to start. There is so much to be said about this show. But I'll start at the beginning. Reignwolf came into my world maybe six or seven months ago, either by YouTube suggestion or randomly through reading my Twitter feed. Can't remember exactly. But the point is, after I heard the first note, I knew that this guy, Jordan Cook, was exactly my cup of tea. Have you ever had that feeling of pure excitement after hearing something for the first time, when you just know that what you're listening to is 100% your kind of music (ok, literally "music to your ears"), and you must hear all of it immediately and completely? Well, that's how I feel at least. Something about this sound - blues rock - just gets me. The distorted sound, the soulful singing, and the runs that are wild enough to still classify it all as rock & roll...makes my musicsoul extremely happy.
Reignwolf is the perfect moniker for the performing alter-ego of Canadian-born Jordan Cook. During shows, he often gets this wild, crazed look in his eye while on stage (trust me, I've seen it up close) and all hell breaks loose. Jordan's performances are unpredictable, ballsy, and full of raw emotion. He's a wolfman. If you're unfamiliar with Reignwolf and all he is capable of, this might be his most popular video on YouTube . Also, the one man band thing might be my favorite thing - there are a few out there who can do it, and do it well. In fact, I would dare to say that Reignwolf is the grittier, (louder), blues rock equivalent of another favorite of mine, Shakey Graves. Birds of a feather and whatnot. I honestly wish that more people were aware of the fact that artists like this do exist. True talent, people with actual skill, and a soul-consuming passion for what they're creating. Artists who aren't in it for the money or the fame, but because they love it wholeheartedly and unabashedly; because they'd die without it. You can feel that; it's palpable. Honestly, it's one of the reasons why I prefer going to smaller shows at smaller venues, mostly to see the non-Top-100 artists (don't get me wrong, there are mainstream exceptions out there though). It's intimate, you can connect with the music and the lyrics and with everyone else in the room, and you feel like you're somehow contributing to the hoped-for success that that musician so deserves. Long story short, I like to give credit where credit's owed.
But I digress..
What else is there to know about Reignwolf. He's Canadian (Saskatoon, to be exact). Lives in Seattle when he's stateside. Played at Coachella 2013, ACL 2013, and Lollapalooza 2013 actually, which I somehow missed. Has been compared to the likes of Jimmy Page, Jack White, and Jimi Hendrix (no big deal). Was named by Rolling Stones as one of the "Ten New Artists You Need To Know". Recently finished a 10-date Canadian tour as the opener for Black Sabbath. Oh yeah, all this and he doesn't even have a full-length album out. I know, right. Let's allow that settle in for a second........
So far, Jordan Cook has only recorded and released an EP with two songs - "In The Dark" and "Are You Satisfied". Consequence of Sound just premiered his latest song, "Lonely Sunday", two weeks ago. It's a bit mind-blowing (and maddening, in a way) that he has accomplished so much and doesn't even have a full album out. [Though rumor has it that he has recorded with Dave Grohl in Studio 606. With The Neve. Legendary.] But in all actuality, and in line with my personal beliefs, the recordings don't even come close to what he sounds like live. He's just someone who you can't fully capture on tape, you know?
When I say that he puts on a show, he literally puts on a show. I had been dying to see Reignwolf live for a while now, but was kind of nervous that the bar might have been set too high. Cook showed up to Double Door in Wicker Park on Friday night with the rest of the pack: bass/guitar player David "Stitch" Rapaport and drummer Joseph Braley. After some loud musings by grunge rock bands Pink Frost (Chicago) and 3-piece band from northern Georgia, Crass Mammoth (liked them, check out this song "Lose Some Time" - they'll be at Lolla14 this August!), the sold-out crowd was starting to get antsy waiting for the wolf to take the stage, which was outlined with precariously placed amps on top of amps. It was my first show at Double Door, and it actually served as the perfect venue for this kind of vibe. Big enough with a hint of dirtiness to cater a full-on rock show, but small enough to provide a walk-into-the-crowd-and-sing-in-your-face kind of experience. [Plus, they have real solid lighting, which is one of my favorite parts of a live show, oddly enough..] Reignwolf hit the stage around 11:30pm with a vengeance. They opened with songs like "Come On, Come On", their latest single "Lonely Sunday", and "In The Dark". Then Cook whipped out his electric fucking mandolin and played "Mandolin Song".
Getting sweatier and wolf-ier at this point, Stitch and Jo exited the stage and let the lone wolf do his thing. Reignwolf is notorious for his on-stage antics - from perching on top of a bass drum to playing amongst the crowd to riding security guards - but mostly he has become famous for playing (or rather, hitting) his guitar in a wild, frenzied manner.. while simultaneously playing on the drum kit. In an interview with Atlas Jams, Jordan said it was something that just sort of happened one day while rehearsing with his band. As an introduction, Cook explained to us that he sat down with some friends at a party the other night and wrote this little bit, and then started in with some slow, raspy vocals. Then he perfectly segued into "Old Man". And seriously blew my mind with that performance. If you only click on one link from this post, please watch this one. Although sadly, neither my writing nor my camera can do it any justice.
The show rocked (and rolled) on. Reignwolf, as a band, played "Palms To The Sky"; Cook stood atop the bass drum for "It's Your Time To Go", mic in one hand while still shredding guitar in the other. And all too soon, they ended their set with the popular single/Reignwolf anthem "Are You Satisfied" (answer = never), during which Cook joined us in the crowd and played from the floor. And because we weren't satisfied (obviously), they played an encore set that included "Electric Love" and my favorite, "Bicycle". I love how wild and crazy his eyes got during that song! Anyway, I think it's fair to say that Reignwolf "melted some faces off" during the show, and convinced everyone in the crowd to join the "Wolf Pack" [sidebar: is that not a great name for Reignwolf followers? ha]. Oh, and cherry on top of the night. They exited in true rock and roll form by throwing around guitars, kicking over drums, and leaving cymbals crashed on the floor. We tried for a second encore, but to no avail. The wolf was done. But his presence still rang in our ears and continued on, perhaps even louder, with our heads on our pillows. This craving of mine - for soulful blues with a dirty kick; for raw, old-school "we're-not-fucking-around" musicianship - was, in fact, satisfied.
Think: The White Stripes (Jack White); Led Zeppelin (Robert Plant, Jimmy Page); Shakey Graves (in an opposite yet similar kind of way); Jimi Hendrix
Tweet: @reignwolf , @jojodrumdrum (Joseph Braley)
@crassmammoth , @thepinkfrost
"I gave you my soul, and I can't give you anything more"