DETROIT COBRAS with Shikasta and TRASH at the El Mocambo, January 27. Tickets: $10. Attendance: 340. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
it's not every night that you see a lineup outside the El Mocambo -- especially in January -- but an enormous crowd gathered for the Toronto debut of the Detroit Cobras. Granted, their obvious 60s soul/R&B inspiration makes the Cobras a far more intriguing proposition than most of their Motor City garage rock contemporaries, but that doesn't begin to explain the boyband-fan-sized turnout.
They can't have sold more than 100 records in Toronto, and until a couple of months ago the group was done and singer Rachel Nagy was resolved to spend the rest of her days carving flank steaks and prime rib.
But for whatever reason, 340 people were rammed into the downstairs room of the club, and the Cobras were ready to make a show of it.
"We didn't drive all the way from Detroit to see you standing around like cows," taunted Nagy in a hoarse growl.
The time away from the microphone had left her raspy and short of breath after just two songs. She was clearly out of shape and on the verge of blowing out her voice. As if that weren't trouble enough, the guitar of Ron Asheton look-alike Steve Newara (hijacked from the Wildbunch) was badly out of tune, and hired bassist Chris Rommel was fumbling through the chord changes. Yet they blasted on through sheer force of will.
A romp through Stupidity led into a raunchy take of Bad Girl, and something seemed to click with the crowd. When they tore into Shout Bamalama -- with Nagy screaming along to the caveman pounding of drummer Damien Lang -- the frat crew up front became a bouncing, bashing, moshing mob, shaking up the whole crowd in the process. It was more than the struggling Cobras could've expected.TIM PERLICH