Concert Review

Detroit Cobras at The Rhythm Room: Nix Don't Dance No Mo

, and more like a few minutes of sustained cheering, chanting, whistling, screaming, catcalls, and clapping actually summoned throaty singer Rachel Nagy from the parking lot to belt out "Weak Spot."

Either way, The Cobras, who we hyped a lot last week, were fantastic, and it was our pleasure to get them back onstage for a few more songs. Considering its size, this Wednesday-night crowd (21 to 42, with three random guys in their 60s, if I had to guess) was pretty tame, but the spirit was certainly there, even if Phoenix, like CHI, don't dance no mo' -- preferring instead to juke.

The Cobras act is far from new. Nagy and gal pal guitarist Mary Ramirez have been doing this for years, accompanied by a rotating cast capable of learning their shoulda-been-standards and not annoying them too much in the tour van. Still, it feels fresh live, songs like "Midnight Blues" and "Hot Dog" still sounding a little sleazy and totally off-the-cuff, a serious feat for a band that's been making their living off the same songs (songs they didn't even write) for nearly a decade. Still, "99 and a Half" came with as much passion as you'll see from a lot of teenage kids playing their own songs at a BOTB.

Not that Nagy showed passion, exactly, addressing the crowd between songs. She's a bit of a diva, certainly, but more in the I-don't-give-a-fuck-and-I-definitely-know-more-than-you-anyway sort of way than anything. Her brassy pipes pay the bills, of course, so it's pretty enjoyable to hear her berate the men in the crowd for not dancing with a couple of pretty girls up front, or deadpan "You know you can move around a little," even when it's unclear whether or not she actually cares if anyone moves at all. She gets paid either way.

But if you don't dance, you can bet you're gonna work for that encore.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: The Detroit Cobras and Dex Romweber Duo at The Rhythm Room.

Better Than: The Faint at The Marquee -- even if people did dance their asses off at that one.

Personal Bias: Loved this band for years, seen them probably a dozen times.

Random Detail: How many people from Grand Rapids attended this show, anyway? Our copy editor Jay (his last club show ever, as he turns 40 Friday) and his wife Laura are Grand Rapidians, as is my friend Jen and her friend who's name I forgot. Too much edge-of-the-palm action for me.

Further Listening: The Cobras version of the Staple Singers' "You Don't Knock."

By The Way: As I reported on my twitter: Dex Romweber was one of the better openers I've seen recently. Playing an old Sears Silvertone that literally looked like it'd just been plucked from an attic through an amp that appeared to be assembled from stolen car stereos, he sounded every bit the esteemed veteran of garage rock that he is.

One More Thing: Those bartenders at Rhythm Room sure are fleet-footed and sharp-eared. I've never had so smooth a time with my tab at a sold-out show.

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Martin Cizmar
Contact: Martin Cizmar