[Concert Review] Crack Sabbath (January 2017)

Sirens wail at the end of Crack Sabbath sets, perhaps in case you weren’t already out of your seat. The ensemble, led by saxophonist Skerik, resembles more of a punk band playing jazz, or, the sort of jazz that had spunk like hard bop or Afrobeat before the genre retired with partial pension. That’s the thing, because as the name implies, they could tour with a traditional Black Sabbath cover band and hold pace.

: ★★★★☆ [4/5]

Hold up! What about this “cover song red flag” concept I’ve been theorizing about lately, where musicians aren’t good enough on their own, so they hide behind covers? It’s all in the strength of the performers!

Bands without original music, or groups like Crack Sabbath that cover everything you can namedrop from “The Pink Panther Theme” by Henry ManciniMingus, Monk, Sabbath, and “Breed” by Nirvana, succeed if they can own the songs they cover. The bands that necessitated the concept fail to bring anything new or even worse might just be trying to capitalize on a hit.

Allow me some contextual tangents since it’s been two months ago:

My formal introduction to jazz was through Cowboy Bebop, which features such an eclectic arrangement of jazz that it’s like a casual education. The soundtrack is performed by Kanno Yoko and the Seatbelts and true to the name of the show features a fun assortment of bebop, hard bop, and big band performances.

While I’m more knowledgeable with videogame music, metal, and throat singing, I enjoy the energetic nature of Fela Kuti along with the technical yet accessible Frank Zappa, and I have a theory that Primus is secretly a jazz band with how technically proficient Les Claypool is on bass and his numerous ensemble bands.

Confession time: this was the first purely jazz concert I’ve attended! Purely? I saw this progressive rock and jazz fusion band Cynic a few years ago. They were boring and I fell asleep during their set. Well, I didn’t fall asleep during this show, though I didn’t jump out of my chair either like I might if I were to attend a concert by Fela’s son Femi Kuti.

Crack Sabbath are vibrant introduction to live jazz, though since The Royal Room regularly hosts similar jazz acts like Sex Mob, if you miss them they’ll be around again and they don’t aim for inspirational, just good fun.

Swag: None available? Hmm…

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