I Was Seduced By ReignWolf In Chicago Last Weekend


photos: Mark Burch 


Jordan Cook stood on top of the bar at The Cobra Lounge in Chicago with his microphone in his picking hand, a guitar in his other and the mic chord wrapped around his neck. Just minutes earlier, the power from the stage had gone out during his encore, including the lights. Cook jumps off the stage clutching his guitar in one hand and his amp in the other and forces his way through wall-to-wall bodies towards the bar with a backup plan to find a power source where he will finish out his set standing on top of a 3ft wide bar. 

That was also the moment I realized I was a stumbling block to that plan. I standing with my back to the stage settling my tab at the bar, unaware that Cook had made his way through the crowd with his gear until I felt a poke on my back. It was Jordan using the head of his guitar to get my attention. I turn around to see him standing there, sweating profusely, clutching his amp with one arm and his guitar in the other, with a maniacal look in his eyes, that said “Heyyyyy!!!. I’m coming through!!” 

There was little concern about the drinks, bottles or bodies in his way. Cook seemed experienced at being able to quickly maneuver his way on top of a bar through thick crowds with his gear in tow-as if he’s used the power blowing out when he plays. The large drunk dude who grabbed his arm and tried to chat him while he was in the middle of hoisting himself on top of the bar with his guitar didn’t even seem to phase him. The show was gonna go on, even if the power went out and despite the 7ft drunk giant pulling on his arm. Something determined Jordan Cook to satisfy Chicago.

His drummer quickly followed him and moved part of his drunk kit from the stage to the middle of the crowd, just a few feet away from where Cook was perched on top of the bar. Within a few more minutes, he motioned for his bassist to join him. His entire band was now powering through the rest of their set with limited lights and power. 

The time it took to set this up was inconsequential to everyone because when Reignwolf plays your venue, you should be prepared for every boundary of your audio system to be stretched to its limits or to just give out completely. 

In an instant, the entire band is melting faces again, profusely sweating like a Pentecostal preacher on a soapbox surrounded by congregants. Cook sings over his amplified guitar in his un-amplified voice seducing the crowd as he sings, “I Want You” over and over again. He seems to look at each and every one of us in the eyes as he’s doing it. The flash of a camera penetrates through the hair and sweat around Cook’s face to reveal an entranced look in his eyesWe’re all gathered around the bar at his feet like thirsty rocknroll disciples panting for more.

From the moment Cook took the stage opening with, “Over and Over  from his debut album, Hear Me Out, there was a crazed playfulness about the way he man-handled his guitar. 

Almost immediately, he noticed an audio cable hanging horizontally above the stage which only seemed to serve as an invitation for Cook to explore it with his guitar. Within a few seconds, he’s thrusting the head of his guitar into the cable like a mad scientist trying to conjure up an undiscovered tone in the process.  This is Jordan Cook: a musical prodigy/mad scientist/showman.

There is a definite energy in the room before a Reginwolf show–the anticipation is palpable

Before Reignwolf hit the stage, I remember thinking how peculiar it was that the iron chandelier hanging from the center of the room was swinging wildly back and forth–with no music on. There were no open windows or forced air being pumped into the room to make it swing so wildly either-just the vibrations of about 300 Reignwolf music lovers’ anticipation. That chandelier never did stop swinging. 

Everyone seemed to be aware that they are about to have their faces rocked off. Chicago got all that and more. For the 300+ people in the room that night, we got to experience a live music moment worthy of passing down to our grandchildren.

Jordan Cook knows exactly how to set the mood

Reignwolf knows how to control the ambiance of a show. He knows when the lights need to be turned down low and exactly when that spotlight needs to light him up. 

About midway through his set, he asks the soundman to turn down the lights and then tells the audience to “listen” as he lowers the volume on his guitar. “This is how they play the blues in Chicago. They do it dirty like this,” he says as he starts to noodle around on the guitar quietly playing notes from a blues scale that keep increasing in volume until building up to a crescendo of wailing screams from his Gibson. As someone who has been going to see guys like Buddy Guy play in blues bars in Chicago since before I could legally drink, I can confirm that this is in fact how it’s done in Chicago when it comes to playing the blues. 

Jordan Cook is more than just a great guitarist, he’s a showman 

Cook pleads, persuades, gets down on his knees in praying position with closed eyes and asks penetrating questions like, “Chicago, are you satisfied?” The audience howls back in response. They know what’s coming and are left clapping and shouting for more.

Another highlight was local Chicago hip-hop artist, Vic Spencer, who joined Reignwolf on stage for an impromptu version of  I Think I Saw A Ghost, a track they collaborated with Ghostface Killah on from his recent album, The Lost Tapes. Reignwolf announced that this was not part of his setlist but intended just for Chicago seeing that Spencer was local to Chicago and not actually on tour with Reignwolf. 

The track is reminiscent of a RUN DMC/Aerosmith collaboration in a sense but the riffs here are more Black Sabbathy, grungier and bluesier than the snappier “Walk This Way” Aerosmith licks. Spencer brings a battle-ready approach and ignites the stage with his energy. He’s got a classic hip-hop vibe with a gruff voice whose power can make a guitar solo sound thin by comparison yet the two perfectly complimented each other on stage. No one overshadowed the other which is easy to do when one guy has a guitar and the other a gruff voice.  The audience ate it up. I see a lot more hip hop collaborations for Reignwolf in the future and hopefully more live stuff with Vic Spencer too.

If Reignwolf stopped making records he could still draw crowds on the strength of his live show alone

To see Reignwolf live is to witness pure rocknroll greatness. His Chicago show can best be summed up like this: microphones rubbing against guitar strings that are boosted by overdrive, sustain pedals, octave pedals, body parts, and sweat. Pumping rhythms, one hand on the fretboard playing licks and the other tapping the snare as an audience member unwraps the microphone chord from his neck and hold it up to Cook’s lips. Then he gets inspired and stage dives into the audience who enthusiastically passes him around the venue as he lays on his side, curled up in a fetal position, tearing through a blistering solo.

Reignwolf Chicago 3-7-19Reignwolf played most of the tracks from his debut album, cranking out the singles and other bangers from it like “Alligator”, “Keeper”, “Son of A Gun”.  “I Want You” and “Wanna Don’t Wanna”  plus he played all of his previous singles, “Hardcore”Lonely Sunday” and “In the Dark”.

He ended the show with a rousing rendition of “Palms Up to the Sky” that had the entire audience clapping in unison with the fervor of a full gospel choir chanting “With my palms up to the sky!” Acappella-style with Cook. 

When he was finally done with the show he jumped off the kick drum, threw his guitar towards the stage and headed for the merchandise stand where he humbly greeted anyone who approached him. While people were lining up to greet him at his merch booth, I heard multiple people talking to each other astonished at what they had just witnessed. They were congratulating each other with, “Dude. do you believe what we just saw?!” When I reunited with my photographer after the show the first words out of his mouth were, “Have you ever seen anything like that before?!” 

The truth is I have. I’ve sat a Buddy Guy’s and Junior Well’s feets countless nights watching them riff back and forth. I saw Prince play a last-minute aftershow in a small club where he played Jimi Hendrix covers with A Band of Gypsies backing him (Jimi Hendrix’s former band ) all night long until the sun rose. And I saw Stevie Ray Vaughn play the last song of his life at Alpine Valley in East Troy, Wisc- an epic 15-minute version of “Sweet Home Chicago” with Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Vaughn, Bonnie Raitt, and Jeff Healey.

I’ve seen a lot, and this was something special, indeed.

You can’t really call Reignwolf a bluesman because he’s got this riot vibe like a punk band but mixed with the showmanship of a rockstar and the skills of a guitar legend in the making. Physically Cook looks like a Canadian rocknroll lumberjack sporting a beanie, torn up blue-and-black checkered flannel, black ripped jeans, beat up army boots, and a black moto leather coat. Reignwolf’s jet black hair contrasts with his bright blue eyes, making it really inviting and easy to pay attention to him.

But more than that, there’s something very primal about the way his music makes you feel. It’s powerful. It’s ancient and familiar. It makes your body move instinctually. Slow, then faster, until there’s a climactic explosion of electric fuzz, sweat and moving body parts. Then he brings it back down to start all over again. Reignwolf will seduce every single one of your senses.  Rock music isn’t always served up this deliciously. You’re a keeper, Jordan Cook. All my life. All my days. Always.

A performer like Cook comes around once in a lifetime and if you haven’t had the chance to see Reignwolf live then I suggest you do everything in your power to change that. 

For Chicago Reignwolf music lovers, they’ll have the chance to see him again in a much bigger venue when he returns on June 1st to play the Aragon Ballroom with Wu-Tang Clan, where we can almost bet there will be a live Reginwolf/Vic Spencer/Ghostface Killah collaboration going down. 


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Photos by Mark Burch for NewRockStars