Reignwolf Lucky Bar, Victoria BC, December 27

Reignwolf Lucky Bar, Victoria BC, December 27
Photo: Blake Morneau
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No less than three chants of "Reign-wolf! Reign-wolf!" came from the crowd in the 20 minutes preceding the first of appearance of Jordan Cook, better known these days as Reignwolf. Clad all in black, Reignwolf came out with unparalleled aggression, immediately taking to violent slapping and punching the strings on his guitar. Less than ten minutes into an already raucous set, our hero stood pounding on the drum kit with one hand and a foot, while his free hand worked the fretboard of his guitar with all sorts of slides and pulls. This guy meant business. He was here to give the people what they wanted — Reignwolf, in all his grungy blues-Sabbath glory.

After Reignwolf had sufficiently softened up the crowd, bandmates Joseph Braley (drums) and Stitch (guitar/bass) joined Reignwolf on stage for "In the Dark," one of the few songs to have received an official release, premiering with Rolling Stone earlier this month. It's an unrelentingly heavy track and evidence that these guys have all the makings of a premier power trio. This is music hard enough for rockers and sensitive enough for the hipsters, as evidenced by the fairly healthy split between flannel and leather in the crowd.

The rest of the set was as heavy and passionate with Reignwolf pounding his various guitars with seemingly reckless abandon. Seriously, he might be the only guy who can make a mandolin-sized telecaster look completely badass and not the least bit ridiculous.

By the time he had stripped off the leather coat and put the slide on his finger for the deep burning "This Is the Time," it was obvious Reignwolf had beaten the crowd into submission. We were all with him, no matter the assault he laid upon us.

Leaving the stage with his board of guitar pedals in hand, Reignwolf let the feedback grow until he returned with a solitary pedal for his touching "people you only see at Christmas" reunion with long-time friend Scotty Hills as the duo wound through a beautiful jam of "Jealous Guy." It was the only moment of the night that remotely came close to anything that could be considered "quiet" or "reserved." It was the eye of the storm, the calm before the furious end.

As his bandmates re-joined him, Reignwolf was experiencing amplification problems (an unsurprisingly common problem) and fittingly the last spoken words the crowd heard before the final track of the night were simply, "Crank this one. Crank it." It was badass. It was epic. It was aural S&M with no safe word. It was Reignwolf.