I’m still getting acquainted with parts of downtown Akron, but when my friend Amanda said she knew some people playing at Annabell’s on last week, I got excited. I knew it was just down the street from the AL&L office. Feeling proud of myself for not needing to rely on MapQuest, I offered to drive everyone down for the concert.
OK. So the first time I passed it. But after turning around I managed to find the small alley that led to the fenced-in parking lot. As we walked in, I noticed the lot attendant in a white van. I hoped he was going to watch my car with the same intensity he used to stare at us.
We walked through the fenced-off smoking area and through the back doors. Then, somewhat confused, we looked around and made a trip though the front. Were we in the right place? It was well-lit and friendly, but there didn’t seem anywhere for a band to set up. We looked at the sign out front. Yup. This was Annabell’s all right.
My two friends and I turned to walk back in where a bouncer immediately met us. “Can I check your IDs ladies?” he asked politely. Before we could even reach in our purses Rachel shouted out, “Where’s the band?” —a prime example of the bluntness we love her for. “It’s in the basement,” the bouncer answered with smirk. “Right down those stairs.”
Feeling slightly stupid, we decided to grab a drink before we headed down. We sat around one of the tables and chatted, enjoying the local, laidback feel of the place.
After awhile we walked downstairs, and into a completely different atmosphere. Lights were low over the black and white tiled floor. The age range was much lower, and someone had forgotten to tell me it was black shirt night.
“I need to tell you girls something,” Amanda said with a seriousness that made me slightly worried. “Their band is metal. I was afraid if I told you guys you wouldn’t come.” Rachel and I laughed. Of course we would have! But I knew this was going to be interesting. I like to think I’m well rounded in the range of music, but I was a little hesitant about what to expect from the crowd. Memories of moshing from high school concerts came back to me. I looked around hesitantly at the tall members of the crowd, towering above my petite frame.
We grabbed another drink. I was glad to see there was a second bar down there, since I didn’t think I could have managed the stairs all night in my neon pink heels. We took turns buying rounds of Miller Lite. At two bucks a pop, they were a bargain. The bartender was friendly. We had a funny conversation about the sticker on the cooler behind him that read “F*** You. I’m from Akron.” We discussed the way it shined with city pride.
The first band came on. I was pleasantly impressed by the female drummer and how they covered one of my favorite song by the Foo Fighters. The crowd pulsed with the beat, but so far they were calmer than I had anticipated.
Our friend’s band was on next. He came over to say hi and give us his hotdog and fries to hold on to while he set up. I munched on a few—my payment of course. They were hot and delicious even at 11p.m. I was tempted to order some for myself…
Then it was game time. The band we had come to see was on. The sound was heavier than the first one, and fast, full of energy. The lead singer was a slim, shorter guy, but the sounds that came out of his mouth were strong and loud, catching the crowd’s attention. My friends and I headbanged on the side, shaking our hair violently. People looked at us and laughed. We were being silly, but enjoying the music and ourselves in this new world of a place. At the end everyone applauded and we screamed “WOOOOO!!!!!” making our musician friends laugh and smile at us.
After they were done, we chilled on the couches on the other side of the pool table and arcade games. We talked to our friends and to the bar tender when we went up to get another drink. He shouted in my ear over the music that my heels were “awesome.” I no longer felt out of place.
When my cell phone read 1 a.m., I gathered the troops together for the ride home. As we walked back to the car, Amanda thanked us for coming. “It was a blast!” we said. “Let’s come back for Punk Fest!” –Kathie Zipp