I was enjoying a rare evening out at a really nice restaurant in Woodside with friends and made it back into the city a bit later than expected. I had intended to see Death Angel at Slim’s, but as I started to make my way up there and look for parking, it was too late. So I went with Plan B.
Once I parked and started walking into Annie’s Social Club, I realized that this was absolutely where I needed to be on this particular evening. For one, Black Cobra’s Chronomega was the album that Bay Area Metal and I picked as the #1 album of the year by a local band, and that had just been posted earlier in the day. And second, this would most likely be my last time at Annie’s Social Club.
Annie’s will close on New Year’s, another victim of the economy, following 12 Galaxies, which closed last year. While neither were my favorite venues in the city, both had great local flavor, obscure, small shows, and were generally devoid of two things that seem to be everywhere else- rules and hipsters. It wasn’t until a bit earlier this year that I was informed of Annie’s history as the Covered Wagon- a venue I had heard about but didn’t know where it used to be. Many underground punk bands played The Covered Wagon– but perhaps most important to me was that Nirvana played there in 1989. And when I look up in the rafters by the stage and see the layer of grunge, I think of how remnants of these bands’ DNA might still remain up there. But that will all be wiped clean in 2010, when the space becomes another cookie cutter dance club.
One thing I have never loved about Annie’s is that it’s very cliquish in there, and I always feel that when I walk inside. Luckily I only have to endure about 5 minutes of getting sized up before the band hits the stage. The stage at Annie’s is the perfect size for the two piece that is Black Cobra. As they begin, people rush from the bar room to the band room, and the low height of the stage makes the band almost obscured by the looming audience. But their sound rattles the room, prompting some people in front of me to plug their ears with their fingers.
It was good to see Black Cobra play a headlining set late at night in this small space after seeing them open at The Independent earlier this year. The crowd was in their face and it amped the guys up even more. Annie’s is the type of place where many people are there to drink, play pool, and socialize with their friends- the band always seems to be almost background music to some as they talk through the set and walk back and forth. While I find this annoying, it does add to the uniqueness of shows there. Sporadically people would start slam dancing around- some going a little too far- which ended up resulting in a fight that had to be broken up. After a small hesitation, the band played on. The set was a 40 minute blur of snarls, screeching guitar, pounding drums, and hair.
As I made my exit, the two guys that had been fighting inside continued outside, as one pushed the other into the street and onto the ground. People swooped in to observe and break it up as I walked through the thick cloud of cigarette smoke to leave the scene. It was the perfect blurry, slightly chaotic last show at Annie’s.