Leave it to Cobra Starship to slither elegantly down a black carpet.
Gabe Saporta has come a long way since the days when his pop-punk band were releasing split 7" singles and touring in vans. Samuel Jackson's meme-worthy "Snakes on a Plane" flick is a distant memory, but Cobra Starship remain — bigger than the soundtrack that spawned them and rocking the MTV News VMA pre-show with gusto on Sunday in downtown Los Angeles.
Former Midtown vocalist/bassist Saporta led his synth-pop crew through a raucous "You Make Me Feel" in the lobby of the JW Marriott hotel, which MTV News had transformed into a space-age looking black carpet hosted by MTV News' correspondents and guest reporter Selena Gomez.
Guest singer and Britney gal-pal Sabi started off the song riding down an escalator in a white blazer, red belly shirt, big hooped earrings, ripped-up silver pants and red leather gloves. Saporta followed behind in a dark "Mad Men" worthy suit, red shades and red socks. The pair traded lines down the black carpet, stopping to shake hands and pose for the paparazzi, while the Cobra crew backed them from the stage.
"L.A., put your hands up!" Saporta yelled as he triumphantly climbed the stage toward the end of the track with Sabi trailing behind. The heels on Sabi's boots were tall but they didn't prevent her from pogoing up and down as the song crescendoed, with the crash cymbals growing louder and louder.
"Cobra Starship and Sabi. How cool was that?" exclaimed Gomez immediately afterward.
"That was incredible! So much energy," agreed Sway.
At rehearsals the day before, flashy frontman Saporta wondered whether performing as a warm-up act on the pre-show was as prestigious as conquering the stage at the main event, like say, Lady Gaga or Adele. But guitarist Ryland Blackinton assured him the Starship had landed in a great spot, explaining that "you often like the appetizer more than the main course, because you're more hungry."
"Even though it's not technically the VMAs — it's the pre show — it's still the best moment of my career," Saporta told Sway backstage.