Some people go out for drinks after work on Friday. I prefer to go see one of SF’s loudest bands for free at one of the best record stores in the world.
I had never been to one of Amoeba’s in store performances before. I was really interested in how this worked logistically, especially with a real band and not some singer/songwriter type. So that was part of the appeal of attending this show, since I’d seen Black Cobra twice already in the past few months in their ‘natural habitat’. Also, if you hadn’t noticed, I went to the GRAMMYs last weekend, so I was ready to dive back into my regular programming.
I arrived precisely 2 minutes before the 6pm start time. The area in front of the stage houses ’50s era vinyl, and there was a good crowd filling in the aisles ready to watch. I stood at the endcap that held some boxed sets, so while I looked at the stage, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, and Elvis looked back at me. A quick wave to Umlaut, who was front and center, and the door at the back of the stage opened and Jason and Rafa walked out.
An announcement went out over the speakers letting customers know that there was about to be an in store performance- and that it would be loud and earplugs were available at information. I had come straight from work, leaving my nice custom earplugs in my fun bag. I decided to go naked. How loud could it really be?
Within 30 seconds, I discovered it could be REALLY loud. Like really…I thought of the volume constraints at Slim’s and then how loud this was in comparison where normal people were shopping….kinda sad. My ears started to hurt, but it was a good hurt. Black Cobra’s sludgy metal was having a profound physical effect on me, and it had been a while sense I’d experienced that with a band. It wasn’t face melting, it was brain and ear melting…the saying needs to be revised.
Under the fluorescent lights of Amoeba, Black Cobra played the most vicious set I’d seen them play. Perhaps the light had something to do with it- I could see every nuance of their performance, as well as the crowd’s reactions.
There’s something about watching a band of two that allows you to see the subtle communication the members have with each other: Eagle Twin and BRMC come to mind. A glance out of the corner of an eye, a countdown tap, a slight nod of the head.
Towards the end of the set, I realized that the last live music I saw contained performances by Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and the Black Eyed Peas, and how this felt so satisfying after that experience. It was good to be back.
For the last note of the final song, Rafa hit his drum and it reverberated back on him as he sprung out of his stool. The guys stood there for a second, looking satisfied and confident in their set as the crowd cheered for them.
It was 6:40pm on Friday. That is my kind of happy hour.