Reignwolf At The Fonda Theatre, With Irontom, L.A. Witch, Friday October 4th 2019
Once in a while comes a band that uses an old formula – blues rock has pretty much been done and redone – and rearranges the furniture,… literally! During their set at The Fonda Theatre, Reignwolf moved their drum set several times, first, to bring it closer to the edge of the stage, then to put it in the middle of an ecstatic crowd, and finally back on stage for one last song! Led by guitarist/singer Jordan Cook, the trio played a ferocious brand of blues with an insane appetite and hardcore-level energy.
At the beginning of the night, Irontom played a short set with bombastic energy and a few bigger-than-life hooks. Hard-hitting with an operatic side – thanks to singer Harry Hayes’ theatrical and soaring delivery, and this is an understatement – they seemed to have the grandiose ambition of rock bands like Muse, with maybe a touch of Queens of the Stone Age, while guitarist Zach Irons may have inherited some music genes since he is Jack Irons’ son, the drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. With grins on his face, Haynes was giving the most expressive interpretations of the songs you could imagine, while the entire band knew how to work a crowd, Right away, the energy got very high, and their sophisticated rock anthems were carried at the top of Haynes’ long arms, while their performance was exuding big rock & roll expectations.
L.A. Witch also played a set of their dark psychedelic music dominated by singer/guitarist Sade Sanchez’s vocals revealing a nasal twang. Some of their songs had a very Brian Jonestown Massacre vibe, slowly burning into dark, hypnotic music, while they took some outlaw country accents during the faster foot-tapping moments. Bassist Irita Pai and drummer Ellie English completed the somber ride which never lost its seductive approach, it was a blend of sinister garage rock and smoky psych-pop with a punk attitude, engulfing South California’s darkest myths.
After a few dates with the Who, Reignwolf was headlining their own show at the Fonda and, with their dirty blues, which trashed the place like no other, they certainly blew away everyone’s mind. After the opener, ‘I Want You’, I right away thought they sounded like the Black Keys on steroids, adding plenty of guitar distortion and a taste for destruction. This Black Keys comparison would probably make them smile, but this impression rapidly weakened and even vanished as the set progressed, as they were rather leaning toward something far more dangerous, ‘Black Sabbath has been a huge inspiration for us’ said Cook, before dedicating their song ‘Juice Box’ to Kelly (Osborne). At this instant, I completely got it, plus they have actually toured with Black Sabbath in 2014.
The trio was restless, sweating their stomping and aggressive blues whose loudness could barely be explained as they were only three on stage. For the entire hour, Jordan Cook played a very charismatic frontman with plenty of swagger, his raspy vocals filled with reverb were high in the mix and he was balancing non stop his guitar. However, the three of them, Stacey-James Kardash on bass and Joseph Braley on drums, were working in perfect synchrony whether they were rocking at high speed with blistering riffs or were having these slower moments of pure swelling blues. It was astonishing to look at their young faces and realize they were playing like blues-rock veterans, screaming and melting faces, fiercely shredding, jumping around and tapping the floor with their army boots.
Cook was the star but he never acted like one, even when he was using a kick drum at the edge of the stage to add another percussive layer to the music. When he went solo for a song, he managed to play these same crazy guitar solos and the full drum set at the same time, but since everything was happening in the back of the stage, it was a bit difficult to follow! However, this very technical demonstration got executed so effortlessly that it simply became the most cathartic moment of the show. Because of prowess like this one, Cook has been compared to music giants such as Robert Plant, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Jack White, although none of these flattering compliments seemed to have altered his good-nature on stage and his friendly behavior with the crowd. In fact, he could well be a better Jack White without an attitude.
The set was one monster riff after one all-fuzzed-out one, and Cook’s howl, always ready for the next blues anthem, was coming with full crowd participation. During ‘Hardcore’, Stacey-James Kardash and Joseph Braley jumped in the crowd with bass and drums, while Jordan Cook climbed at a top of a stack of amps on one side of the stage, just to bring an already unbridled show to the next chaos level. ‘it’s not gonna sound good but it’s gonna feel good!’ he added as they were installing the drums on the floor of venue. This brought another dimension to their already raw style, as Cook ended the song in the middle of the crowd, at the top of a drum. But there was still one last song, ‘In the Dark’ which they performed back on stage while they were reinstalling the drumset there… you cannot accuse these guys to be lazy. And far from leaving on a calmer atmosphere, the song was as barebone as the other ones.
Reignwolf has only released one album this year ‘Hear Me Out’ – they have received 5-star reviews on Amazon, was praised by the few reviewers who rightly wrote about it, but was largely ignored by bigger music websites and I wonder why. That’s why I cannot even say ‘believe the hype’, there’s simply no hype in the media as Rolling Stone, Spin, and Pitchfork have barely written about them or even not at all! However, Reignwolf’s music doesn’t need any hype, and attending one of their ferocious shows will instantly turn you into a fan.
I Want You
Black and Red
Are You Satisfied?
Wanna Don’t Wanna
Over and Over
In the Dark