Considering the crowd at All Them Witches, I can now confidently say that it’s a promising thing to walk into a bar and find that all the patrons are cooler, trendier, and better dressed than you are. Hint: it’s going to be a good show.
The hair was long, the denim was faded, the eyeliner was winged; these people really knew how to pull out the stops for a Sunday night. At risk of sounding trite, the Cobalt is a warehouse of cool, in regards to both the patrons and the décor.
Walking from the bar to the pool table I was struck by the dreamy glow that was cast over the space by the dim red lights and disco ball as it spun and illuminated the well-worn wooden beams and snug stage. Hypnotic twang-y psychedelic rock resounded from the speakers and it served as a suitable soundtrack for a crowd conjured up from what appeared to be a combination of the gritty urban core, the rural backwoods, and a Kevin Smith movie.
10 p.m. approached and after an hour of unanticipated wait time, Vancouver-based band Eric Campbell & The Dirt took the stage effortlessly and breezily, pounding out deliciously melodic outlaw rock ‘n’ roll. As Campbell sighed and breathed heavily and dramatically into the microphone, it felt as though he was intimately letting us into his inner world. There was a strong degree of reflective angst and melancholy contained within the lyrics. The crowd was transfixed by the moody, sultry sound and Campbell’s emotionally charged theatrics.
11:30 p.m. was edging closer as Nashville-based All Them Witches took the stage to a raucous applause from all corners of the room. Lead singer and bassist Michael Parks, Jr. introduced the band with his warm southern accent as the scent of incense wafted through the crowded dance area. It was pretty magical.
Indeed, engaging with the unknown, magical forces of life is somewhat a modus operandi for the guys that make up All Them Witches: singer-bassist Michael Parks, Jr., drummer Robby Staebler, guitarist Ben McLeod, and keyboardist Allan Van Cleave, who were here tonight playing tracks from their 2013 album Lightning at the Door.
All Them Witches took off into a raw, hypnotizing blend of hard, twisted guitars and purposeful drums. Parks’ spoken word lyrics evoked voodoo, incantations, and dark nights in the bayou; like something out of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The emotional intensity never wavered as All Them Witches continued to seduce the crowd with the darker, more sinister side of southern charm throughout their hour long set. The standout track of the evening was “Charles William,” a beautiful traveler’s tale of redemption and loss.
Due to some unexpected circumstances, Outside Dog took the stage after All Them Witches wrapped up, as the crowd was dwindling and the clock was well past midnight. Nonetheless, they played with passion, grit, and a laissez-faire ‘tude that served as a cool backdrop to last call.