I had only heard a couple of Cobi
's songs before seeing him open for Boy and Bear at The Highline Ballroom last night, so I knew I was in for a surprise. His single, "Don't You Cry For Me," quickly grew to the top of Spotify's Viral Charts and has garnered over 12 million streams since it debuted in May. I also had been obsessively playing it for days because the sound is simply incredible. It's like an explosion of gospel vocals and electro-rock melodies in your ears.
Cobi nonchalantly snuck onto the Highline Ballroom stage with just his electric guitar, and began to play. I was surprised to see that he was playing by himself. Having heard some of his songs, I could tell they require a lot of gear. Halfway into his first song, two other band members trickled in, one on the drums, and the other with a synthesizer and an electric bass. The growing sounds made everyone in the room stop and pay attention.
Cobi played a total of seven songs. Almost every song told an abstract story of struggling to gain redemption, but not taking any pity on the way. He sang his most popular song, "Don't You Cry For Me," second to last. It takes this theme of redemption and applies it to African American lynching in the South between the late 1800's-early 1900's. Think of this song as a modern day "Strange Fruit."
If Hozier and AWOLNATION had a baby, that baby would be Cobi. He has a blues sound mixed with electronic-rock music that forces you to listen. Watching Cobi perform felt like I was transported back to the 70's. He has this effortless rock 'n' roll vibe to him that emits coolness, looking like he could be a character from Dazed and Confused. While the performance was short and sweet, I wouldn't have minded for it to be a little longer. Each song was sung with more passion and honesty than the next. And did I mention he is crazy impressive on the electric guitar? I would not be surprised to see Cobi filing up some big stadiums in the near future.