Cobra set saves lackluster opening

If your first single debuts in a movie, even if it’s “Snakes on a Plane,” you’re doing something right.

Cobra Starship has been doing everything right since its grand entrance in 2006 with the album “While the City Sleeps, We Rule the Streets.” Led by lead singer Gabe Saporta, with keytarist Victoria Asher, Ryland Blackinton on guitar, Alex Suarez on bass and Nate Navarro drumming, Cobra put a unique blend of alternative and electronic sound together into a style completely their own.

Cobra is closing out 2008 with the SassyBack Tour, along with bands Sing It Loud, Hit the Lights and Forever the Sickest Kids. The SassyBack Tour stopped in Portland on Oct. 24 at the Wonder Ballroom.

The Wonder Ballroom isn’t a grand hall. It’s tiny. Think of a church gym with hardwood floors and a stage at one end. I’ve been to four good concerts in large venues, but there is a special virtue about smaller ones. They allow for more energy and interaction between the crowd and the band. Plus, you’re closer.

The opening act, Sing It Loud, performed for 20
minutes. Every few verses, the guitarist or vocalist struck a pose above the crowd. The music was an alternative rock explosion of guitar and drums that we’ve all heard before. I give the guitarist credit, though: He did
crowd surf.

Hit the Lights picked up where Sing It Loud left off, blasting the crowd with guitar and bass lines and a lead singer who was extremely awkward. Despite repeatedly taking a drink and blowing it out like a flare of mist, he took the cake when he went behind the guitarist and blew a solid stream of water into the crowd like a dolphin. That this is the notable moment of the opening acts tells me all I need to know.

Forever the Sickest Kids changed the entire mood and took the night to the extreme. Not only did it play inspiring electronic alternative music, it also took the crowd’s energy and built on it. By the time Cobra came to the stage, the floor was still shaking from the crowd jumping up and down. Despite having never heard of them, FTSK drew me in and had me rocking out like the most diehard fan. The eccentric lead singer added character to the performance without being awkward.

Nothing could touch Cobra, though. From the opening song, “Church of Hot Addiction,” to the encore, “Guilty Pleasure,” Cobra mixed up tracks from both albums and kept the crowd screaming for more. Saporta was the leader and took the reins of the show. “The City is at War” got the crowd bouncing, making the hardwood floor roll in waves, and “Smile for the Paparazzi” flipped the electronic vibe over to heavy rock.

The concert was amazing. Cobra proved that it consistently puts on quality performances. The opening acts provided a nice warm-up, but as soon as FTSK hit the stage, the energy level peaked. FTSK and Cobra both interacted with the crowd exceptionally well and, for the majority, played their top songs, which no one could complain about.

The night at the Wonder Ballroom was exhilarating and memorable and the bands fused together for a magisterial experience unlike anything I have ever seen.

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