KING COBB STEELIE with the BARMITZVAH BROTHERS and STOP, DIE, RESUSCITATE at Lee's Palace, August 6. Tickets: $7. Attendance: 135. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Friday night took me back to 1997, when I was into the whole triphop deal, and after an evening of spinning Massive Attack's dub epic No Protection, a friend said I'd really like King Cobb Steelie 's latest album, Junior Relaxer. This was a time when bands like Prodigy, Portishead and the Chemical Brothers were all the rage. Yet with Junior Relaxer, a band from the bland environs of Guelph seemed to come out of nowhere to rival the best of the phenomenon.
A few years later, I was a little let down by Mayday, which saw King Cobb Steelie going in a more pop direction that didn't seem to suit their unique abilities.
Since then, I've often wondered what happened to the Cobbers, so I looked to their live show at Lee's for the answer. This was a CD release show for their new album, and considering its title, Destroy All Codes, I excitedly anticipated that mainman Kevan Byrne had come up with something revolutionary. Or at least something new.
From the get-go, it was apparent that the only thing King Cobb Steelie had destroyed was their fans' expectations that they'd break new ground. The new tunes sounded like inferior outtakes from the Relaxer sessions, and even bass man Kevin Lynn 's yoga contortions and Flea-like gyrations couldn't keep you from feeling like the evening was a lesson in retrograde motion.
Their hypnotic dubby jams never really took off, and the crowd barely moved until they broke into Pass The Golden Falcon, a tune that would have killed on The Mission Impossible soundtrack and almost decisively proves that white kids shouldn't dance in public.
A heavy hand at the console made Byrne's already hard-to-understand lyrics virtually unintelligible on the Steelie classics Starvo and Rational, but regardless, those songs got the best response and proved the highlights of a lacklustre performance by a band that coulda been a contender.
I hope King Cobb Steelie took notes during the Barmitzvah Brothers ' set.
Their quirky art rock experimental stylings were always entertaining and concise. They knew how to keep you wanting more, while Steelie's songs went on long after their point was made.