DISCLAIMER: This article contains some explicit language and is strongly biased.
“The first time I saw him,” my new friend Spencer recounts, “him” begin Jordan Cook off headliner Reignwolf, as we wait for the show to start, “was the Winter of 2010 in Milwaukee at a local pub. It was just me and a bunch of Native Americans, the band playing was also of locals. And in marches him, he didn’t even have his own equipment, so he plugs in the amp of the Native Americans playing.”
“What happened next?”
“That’s the story. From that moment on I’ve seen every show of his I could.”
Same on this Friday night, at the Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan. Perched up on the gallery of the venue, the anticipation rises. The concert hall starts filling up for STRNGRS, the support act from New York, one of P&W’s favorites this year. By the time they hit the stage shortly after 9.00 pm, a good three quarters of the bottom floor is filled with a jeans-clad crowd varying from the middle aged couple to the quintessential hipster.
For the the ones of you that haven’t been introduced to STRNGRS in our preview a couple of weeks back, the New York threesome belong to the audacious bands that refuse to use a bass in their music (although that is something I got wrong in my piece about the band, my bad), similar to early Black Keys, the White Stripes or the Kills, and guess what, it doesn’t even matter. Dressed like the dapper New York lads of the 2010s they are, the trio set up in one line, with no bandmate stealing the others thunder. Garrett Drinon is a machine on the guitar, his fingers flying all across the guitars neck, creating incredibly rich sound on his six strings, like mac and cheese on pulled pork – greasy, grimy and good. On the right next to him, STRNGRS drummer Chase McGowan in all white (he really can’t afford to be a messy eater) urges his bandmate on with some of the finest drumming I’ve seen in a bit. And then there’s lead singer and harmonica player Carson Kelley, who controlled every inch of the stage in a Jarvis Cocker-ish manner, running up and down the stage. By the time their set of half an hour ended, they had the crowd warmed up and feverishly awaiting the wolf.
Have you ever heard of the ridiculously misogynous and stupid saying “Treat your drums like your ex-girlfirend: Beat the fuck out of them,” that 14 year old drummers, covered in pimples, like to sharpie on their backpacks to seem tough and cool? Well, this is the first time I’ve seen someone treat his guitar like it, and damn, he made it sound GOOD. Accompanied by bandmates Stiticx on drums and Joseph Braley on bass, Jordan Cook slayed his set of earthy, raw blues-rock songs, wandering down the path of Cream, Hendrix and Ten Years After. His voice, which most likely inspired him to his name, for it is like the howling of a wolf, goes deep under your skin and entrances you, while his guitar roars in unison. Damn, that man knows how to grab a vagina. Women want to be with him, men want to be him, you know, the usual.
All my raging hormones aside, he really did put on a hell of a show. I haven’t seen Bowery Ballroom as exhilarated since I’ve seen the Pixies play there in September (with the support of Reignwolf, whaddya know?). You could see him dripping in sweat from the gallery from minute one, his heart and soul going to every tune he sang, every string he played and eventually ripped. Halfway through the set his bandmates waved and left the stage to take a break, while Cook took over the stage, playing guitar and drums simultaneously, and eventually ending up in the crowd. His single bass drum, he used aside from the drum set Stiticx was playing on, was carried in the audience for him (big ups to the stage tech, who did a bang up job keeping the cool in all of the chaos!), and he gave a fulminant twenty minutes performance in the crowd, bass player Braley down there in the pit with him and all. Crowdsurfing back to the stage, Cook tore up all the strings on his guitar, and then, after a sweaty and steamy encore, bid New York adieu. “Thanks so much New York! This is the most fun I’ve ever had!” No, Jordan. Thank you. Thank you and STRNGRS, for making me remember again why I fucking like rock music.
Article by: Julia Maehner
Photos by: Shayne Hanley