I’m always amazed by the record reviewers who are surprised by Cobra Verde’s lack of pretension, and the manner in which they embrace feel-good Rock ‘N’ Roll. Did you check the bio? This is Cleveland. Haircuts don’t get you too far in the scene these days. As if you needed any proof that pretension was checked at the door last night, they didn’t take the stage with bottled water, instead, singer John Petkovic made sure that every member had a Hi-Life near before they kicked out that first number. And that smoking ban? It didn’t work so well last night.

Their set drew heavily from 2003’s Easy Listening, an album whose combination of glam anthems and garage attitudes, made for what many consider their best album to date. A rousing rendition of “Riot Industry” had their fans moving, and in one case break-dancing, while “Terrorist” and “My Name Is Nobody” also proved to be crowd favorites. Later, they would close their set with an absolutely shredding take, on the already shredding “Modified Frankenstein.”

Cobra Verde also dug deep in the back catalog on a couple occasions last night, for “Was It Good” from 94’s Viva La Muerte and “Underpants” from 97’s Egomania (and later 05’s Copycat Killers). Cobra Verde’s take on New Order’s “Temptation,” one that transformed it from shiny, new-wave disco, to trashy rock, left only the most basic elements of its melody and the “Ooh-Oh Oh-Oh, Ooh” in the chorus, as reminders to the original.

Cobra Verde are nearly complete with their sixth album, and as promised they did preview a couple new tracks. Petkovic admitted that they had just finished recording, and consequently, the new tunes were not as tight as the rest of their set. That’s not saying, they didn’t rock hard. I had managed to scribble down the title, “Wine In The Food Court,” and the big hooks on this one should place it favorably in your list of top Cobra Verde cuts.

Sounder came on the stage before Cobra Verde, and after a short Q&A with the crowd, rocked it LOUD. The good news for those who came without protection, is that after the first couple tunes, your ears got used to their ear-splitting Rock ‘N’ Roll. Of course, the bad news is that your ears only were able to adjust after suffering permanent damage. During Sounder’s set, I thought back to 1989 when the US forced out Panama’s Manuel Noreiga with the help of loud rock music. Give these guys a flatbed truck and a generator, and they could bring peace to The Middle East.

Sound Check played first during this three band bill. They said their name was Juniper Bends, but after an exhausting sound check, they might as well go by the name Sound Check. Let this be a lesson to young bands. If you’re the first one to hit the stage, don’t waste the crowds good will with a 20-30 minute sound check. You’ll be remembered for nothing else.