After Sunset

Death-metal band Blessed Agony takes the stage on a recent Saturday night at Bond's 007 Rock Bar. (Photo by Mark Greenberg)

Tattoos, hair farmers, and heavy-metal jukeboxes

Soon after I turned 21, I discovered a heavy-metal biker bar in downtown Columbia, Missouri, my old college town. It was a place where all the people you wouldn't see anywhere else, the social misfits, would gather and rock out together to Judas Priest on the jukebox. It quickly became my favorite bar; there's something about that scene, with its raw attitude and gritty appearance, that I have always found quite irresistible. Every city should have a bar like that and in my short time in San Antonio, I've found at least one.

I had only been in town for a month when I discovered Bond's. I had just settled in downtown SA and immediately set out to find the nightlife opportunities in the neighborhood. I'd heard that San Antonio had a major heavy-metal scene, but I didn't know where it was. Located in an old printing building across the street from a bridge overlooking the River Walk, Bond's doesn't look like a metal bar from the outside. But while passing by, I noticed posters on the door that intrigued me with their Gothic font and suggestive images. Immediately upon entering the place, I knew I'd found a real rock 'n' roll bar right downtown with all the accoutrements of an environment I crave: cheap drinks, live music, and a feisty crowd.

My first few times at Bond's, I stayed put downstairs and enjoyed the heavy-metal jukebox and the lively clientele. Like you'd expect to find at any good rock joint, there is plenty of long hair, piercings, and tattoos to admire. But overall, Bond's seems to cater to a laid-back crowd that doesn't care to get all dressed up to go out. People are casual and friendly, inviting you to share a pool table or join the group gathered in front of the large-screen TV watching the TNT Saturday night horror flick. My first couple times at Bond's, the bartenders who didn't recognize me came over to shake my hand and start conversation, and the interest seemed genuine, not sleazy.

Within a handful of visits, I'd gone from being the new girl in town to a regular looking for the after-party. The only time I faced any real dissidence at Bond's was when I had a moment of weakness and chose to end my string of jukebox picks (which included Faith No More, Pantera, and The Doors) with "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins; the crowd began to quiver in mad protest until the bartender actually cut the song off!

When I inquired as to why they would even offer the tune if no one wanted to hear it, I was told it was put there for the downtown business crowd that frequents the place during rush hour (and I instantly felt like a yuppy shmuck).

   Bond's 007 Rock Bar

450 Soledad

Last weekend at Bond's, I decided to add dimension to my reputation as a barfly, so I finally made my way up the stairs to the live music venue. The guy collecting the $3 cover informed me that Point of Contact was still playing and another band or two would follow. As I crept up the stairs, I rubbed my ears in response to the tickle my eardrums suddenly received.

The music flowing from above sounded polished and tight, and I almost wondered if there was another jukebox upstairs instead of a live band. But the second my eyes caught the stage, I knew it was live: No jukebox could offer the kind of appeal that was present in the chiseled chest and tattoo I was facing.

Shirtless and sweaty, Point of Contact frontman David Cloud was obviously relishing his role as lead guitarist and vocalist for the band. And for all that was resonating from the stage, I was enjoying his role, too. The band was composed of only three guys, but they were clean and precise and the music had undeniable texture. I watched the show while the bass rhythms rattled the ice in my tequila and the James Hetfield-inspired vocals overtook me. I'd only caught the last three songs but it was enough to know that I would be back upstairs the next time I visit Bond's.

Sufficiently stirred, I decided to call it a night. Walking home from Bond's, half-deaf and tipsy, I was happy to know I'd found my entree into the San Antonio heavy-metal scene.

By Brooke Palmer

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