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TimeOut New York
By Mike Wolf
Feb. 10-17, 2000

Cobra Verde is so literate in the language of rock, it borders on telepathy (rock telepathy, that is). CV is fronted by -- no, dominated by -- John Petkovic, a modern-day Renaissance man if there ever was one. In addition to being the only permanent member of the group and the one almost single-handedly responsible for its recorded output, Petkovic has served as an aid to Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia; he does a weekly radio on Balkan affairs for Cleveland's NPR affiliate; he works full-time as a columnist for that city's top daily; and he's also responsible for a mind-blowing website (www.scamcity2000.com) that provides alternative news and opinions on entertainment and U.S. foreign policy, and contains an advice column by Petkovic's cat Alvin. Whew!

But it's his position as one of America's last great rock stars (albeit one that you might not know well, yet) that we're concerned with. CV explores all of rock music's classic themes: love, revolution, self-destruction and identity -- at the same time whenever possible. In true glam-rock style, Petkovic is in love with the possibilities that come from leaving your regular self behind and putting on myriad masks: saint, sinner and gutter-dwelling murderer are all tried on and cast aside in his poetic world. When he puts on his rock-god persona, however, it's hard to tell he's anyone but his own baby bad self. As you'd expect from someone who knows rock so intuitively, Petkovic is a demon possessed in his favorite setting, up close and personal onstage. But after acting as Guided By Voices's backing band both in the studio and on the road (circa Mag Earwhig!), CV's last lineup dissolved. Petkovic made 1999's Nightlife, a stunning display of everything that makes rock music vital, with only a little help in the studio. Now he's taking his new crew, which he calls his best band yet, on the road for the first time. Don't bet against them -- the smart money says Cobra Verde is going to show the world who's really the best band from Ohio.

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