Reignwolf singer Jordan Cook sings with that bluesy bark you hear from frontmen like Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner. He writes screeching, heavy music for when you’re walking down a side street in an ad for blended whiskey. But Saskatchewan’s Reignwolf isn’t just familiar licks; the band is built around Cook’s black Gibson ES-335.
“Is it OK if we come closer?” he said 15 minutes in.
He was bored. Bands like ACL 2018 colleagues Greta Van Fleet basically exist as Led Zeppelin impressionists. Cook wants to move, and so he turned busker — playing guitar near the photo pit, kicking drummer Joseph Brale offstage to show off and play both at the same damn time. He’d noodle on his fret board and kickdrum some thuds as a metronome.
“We’ve been waiting for this one,” Cook said early into his Honda stage set at Weekend Two of ACL 2018. “We appreciate you showing up on a Friday — nice and early for this ... check this one.”
More loud riffs followed. His guitar strings extended for several inches beyond the neck. Why trim them when you’ll have to soon re-string from all the wear and tear, brother? Cook wore a black T-shirt, crimson flannel, and a black jacket for the first 15 minutes. It’s 84 degrees in Zilker as of press time.
He’d sing songs like “Are You Satisfied?” without a microphone stand or even, in Tony Bennett-esque spurts, sans microphone altogether. But make no mistake; this power trio has songs.
“Let’s not get lost in the deep hell ... not while I’m catching my breath,” he yelled on the great “Hardcore.”
Cook seems to understand that he’s not reinventing the wheel. Moreover, rock 'n' roll is mostly dead. And that you can hear better songs from competent players up and down Dirty Sixth on a weeknight. He has to fight for his art — against a shifting mainstream that gets its kicks from Brockhampton — and he won by outworking everyone like a gym rat.