Midway through George Elliot Underground’s performance at a crowded Kobo on a recent Friday, singer Matt Zaborniak repeatedly growled, “Nothing’s gonna change!”
On this night, at least, he couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Ownership of the venue recently shifted, with Jacob Wooten selling to friend Ben DeRolph, and some changes are undoubtedly coming — many for the better (DeRolph said he’d prioritize much-needed upgrades to the club’s bathrooms and sound system). At the same time, DeRolph expressed a desire to “continue Jacob’s intent” for the cozy dive, which means it likely won’t be reborn as some sleek, DJ-driven discotheque.
Plans for the sale hatched several weeks ago when Wooten and DeRolph stopped in the club for a quick beer. “I was like, ‘Man, I’m so jealous you own a music venue,’” DeRolph said. “And [Jacob] was like, ‘You want to buy it?’”
Wooten, for his part, expressed a desire to return to a more sustainable, 9-to-5 existence, and considering he spent much of his final evening on the job wielding a plunger after a drainage issue shuttered both bathrooms, it was somehow easier to understand why he might be ready to step away.
“Not my problem tomorrow!” he said as he announced the bathroom closings from the stage, barely able to contain his glee.
Wooten assembled the three-band lineup, which also included Alert New London and Cadaver Dogs, to send himself off in appropriately raucous fashion. The evening’s musical arc, in turn, mirrored a drunken night on the town, opening with the more buttoned-up stylings of Alert New London (playing perhaps its last ever show), loosening its tie for the more tousled blues-rock of GEU and tossing its entire ensemble into the gutter during a ferocious closing turn from Cadaver Dogs.
By the Dogs’ third song, drummer Lex Vegas, whose kit could have passed for a victim of “True Detective’s” “Spaghetti Monster,” decorated as it were with antlers and an upside-down cross, was begging the opening acts for more drumsticks (“I’ve already broken like 10 of ’em,” he said). And by its fifth song the three-piece had managed to hit on the musical trinity, turning out songs about sex (a feral tune inspired by a Kama Sutra-esque night in Salt Lake City), drugs (“Buy Me a Shot”) and rock ’n’ roll (the road-grading and wholly accurate, “Rock ’n’ Roll Band”).
Throughout, frontman Mathew Franklin spoke of wrecking the venue and sending Wooten out in a blaze of glory. And though the destruction appeared limited to the bathroom’s plumbing architecture, the crew still managed to accomplish its goal with its fiery headlining turn.