San Francisco’s best kept secret is not your advance copy of the new Blaqk Audio album, but a small band originally hailing from Reno called the Cobra Skulls. It is a travesty of epic proportions that they don’t have a Band Profile on Punknews yet. Coming out of virtually nowhere, they blew my mind (and eardrums) during a recent show at Annie’s Social Club with another great band, Nothington, which consists of former members of Tsunami Bomb.
The night started innocently enough. I met up with the Sunset Punks and downed PBRs faster than Dennis Hopper in "Blue Velvet." Times like this make me never want to leave the Bay Area. The Cobra Skulls were the third band of the night and wasted no time launching into one of my personal favorite songs, “I Want Bigger Cobra Skulls.” With a new album coming out July 10 and a West Coast tour with Mad Caddies to follow, the remainder of the show was dedicated to new material. There was not a weak song in the set. Sounding like the bastard child of Social Distortion, the Clash, and Disco- / Eternal Cowboy-era Against Me!, it is impossible to stand still while the Cobra Skulls are on stage. This might explain why Red Scare Records label-mate Brendan Kelly of the Falcon (and a completely unheard of group called the Lawrence Arms) is calling the new Cobra Skulls album Sitting Army the best Red Scare release to date.
The set ended with the 66-second rallying cry against the religious right entitled “Ode to Jefferson.” As the band screamed “I don’t fuck with your bible, don’t fuck my Constitution!!,” the crowd, myself included, chanted “Stay the fuck out! Stay the fuck out! You think your Ten Commandments command me? Stay the fuck out!” My only real criticism of the set was that they did not play “Hasta Los Cobra Skulls Siempre,” which is by far my favorite Cobra Skulls song. If I was writing the set list I would have opened with “Ode to Jefferson” and closed with “Hasta Los Cobra Skulls Siempre,” but sadly I didn’t hear the phone ring for my input. I must have been too busy enjoying the future of punk to come.
Giving me just enough time to use the restroom and grab another Pabst at the bar, Nothington hits the stage and boy did they hit it hard. I don’t think that there is anything better than seeing a band at a hometown show after they’ve been out on the road. These guys were fucking incredible. When I first heard of Nothington I didn’t give them a real listen because I wasn’t much of a Tsunami Bomb fan. Boy, was that a mistake. I can’t resist a chorus that forces you to scream along at the top of your lungs, and it seems every song is designed for just that. The song “Awake for Days” was a real standout for me. The dueling vocals of this song sounded like it was pulled from some lost Hot Water Music record. They closed the night with what are my two favorite tracks off of their BYO debut All In: “The Last Time” and “Where I Stand,” before a song described by singer Jay Northington as “A song about something you should never do,” entitled “Rob the Band.”
Bottom line, check out the Cobra Skulls and Nothington. The Cobra Skulls currently have an EP, Draw Muhammad, available through Humaniterrorst Records and their Red Scare debut Sitting Army will be released in less than a month. See them on tour in July. Brave the heat and support Nothington, who will be playing the first leg of Warped Tour this summer. Stay involved. Support your local punk rock bands.