Babes In Toyland - Cobra Lounge - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Babes In Toyland - Cobra Lounge

by Blaire Lund Rating:10 Release Date:2011-11-16

It was Babes in Toyland’s second show in a day when I saw them play at the Cobra Lounge at 11pm. Earlier in the day the band graced the lineup of Chicago’s Riot Fest before they geared up to treat us to this special Riot Fest after-show.

I arrived an hour before the doors opened, anticipating an eager response and wanting to stand in the front row. There were already a few people waiting when I arrived and within 10 minutes the line grew to 20 deep, a clear indication of the excitement the audience had for seeing this legendary band.

Such excitement was shared by the band’s drummer, Lori Barbero. Within five minutes of my arrival I witnessed Lori leave the club and enter their tour bus with a huge smile, a smile she would keep on her face the entire night.

I had never been to the Cobra Lounge before, so I didn’t know what to expect from the venue. It was a tiny place and it filled in extremely quickly, people getting shoulder to shoulder within 10 minutes of the doors opening. The crowd was a mix of different characters from young to old, all of them brimming with enthusiasm. When Babes in Toyland came out they were greeted to deafening yells of adulation, some men shouting they were “the queens of rock” while others called them “goddesses”.  Such praise set the tone for the entire night and gave the band all the energy they’d need to melt faces for a second time in one day.

They started right out, strong and ferocious with ‘He’s My Thing’. They all seemed overjoyed to be there. The smile I saw on Lori’s face before the show remained throughout the entire set as she exchanged happy looks with Kat. New bassist Clara looked blissfully happy as she did her laid-back thing on the left of the stage, swinging back and forth to the rhythm. While Kat’s strained voice didn’t grant her much opportunity to talk between songs, Lori quickly became the speaker for the group, making jokes and fun during breaks in the set. At one point Kat mentioned that it stunk in the club and Lori joked that it was her by sniffing her armpits a couple of times, leading to laughs from the crowd and band.

The band continued brutally with savage cuts like ‘Bluebell’, ‘Right Now’, ‘Handsome and Gretel’ and hit ‘Bruise Violet’. Lori was playing so hard she destroyed her drum mic a couple of times, but these interludes lent for some dialogue between the band and the crowd. Lori talked about how this show at the Cobra Lounge was breaking their “two shows in one day cherry”. She discussed her love of Riot Fest, and festival shows in general, and mentioned having fun at the muddy festival when she went to see The Replacements the previous year. She said she had told herself, “I’m never going to go again” after the festival experience last year but then said, “I’m a fucking liar” as she happily got ready to start the next song.

The audience was a sea of smartphones and digital cameras, everyone taking pictures and videos. The band seemed cool with videos and non-flash photography but Kat mentioned several times that the flashing lights were bothering her eyes and could cause her to have an epileptic episode and even had to say mid-song “no flash” after audience members ignored her request.

Throughout they played cuts from their albums Spanking Machine, Fontanelle and Nemesisters, including the energetic ‘Oh Yeah!’, the heavy, lumbering ‘Ariel’ and fun and sassy ‘Sweet ‘69’. The crowd greeted each selection with deafening roars and explosive dancing. They sang along with the every song, sometimes eclipsing Kat in their loudness.

Never having a chance to see them in their heyday because of my young age, I was glad to experience the live presence of the band. I was surprised by the theatrical aspect of Kat’s performance. She was very energetic; kicking her leg up high in line with the music, doing an impressive leg shimmy while shredding on her guitar and putting on her crazy eyes for the crowd in dramatic fashion.

 During ‘Spun’ she shook her hands in a disturbed fashion along to relevant lines like, “I’ve blown my recovery”. Kat even acted out slitting someone’s throat mid song. A few times during solos she leaned backwards and played her guitar with her wild hair hanging down and her guitar held high up in the air. At one point Kat’s guitar strap broke and a stagehand came to help her out mid song and she apologized, “Sorry, I was trying to be a rockstar over there and I went too far”.

After a couple of drum mic repairing sessions Kat said, “Fuck it, we’re almost done” and they just kept on rocking. They closed the set with a riotous take of ‘Dust Cake Boy’. Kat thanked the crowd for being “the best” before they left the stage.

After the show the majority of the audience remained and headed to the bar and so did Lori, who signed a few things and took a few pictures before heading to the bar herself. This night at the Cobra Lounge was one to remember, for the band’s sonic ferociousness and their authentic delight at sharing their thing with the audience. One can only hope that this experience will make them want to record new material in the future and tour again one day.



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