This past weekend the boyfriend and I had a friend visiting from the land of grey skies and evergreen trees, also known as Seattle, and we debated long and hard about where to take him on Saturday night for a taste of gay San Francisco before finally settling on Trans Am at Club Eight. Neither of us had been there before, but we knew there would be a performance by the inimitable Frieda Laye, and we were curious what sort of tracks Jason Kendig would lay down for a "rock night" - and the fact that it was only five bucks to get in helped as well. We had a good time, but my initial impression is that Trans Am is basically like going to The Eagle beer bust, inside, at night, with a younger crowd.
We arrived aroud 10.30, being, as usual, among the first attendees, with the upstairs space still being closed. We lingered in the outside smoking area (really just the alley between Club Eight and the building next door, but lit very nicely with Christmas light palm trees) through our first drink, and then went back inside to find a small crowd coming together just in time for Frieda's performance at 11. Following her a gothy rock band, complete with lead singer in vampire face, took to the stage, while we took to the upstairs.
The crowd seemed small - when we left around 1 the downstairs was completely empty - but this was a weird weekend out on the city, and everywhere we went there were fewer people than you would normally expect. I also suspect that many of the folks who would be drawn to the music and crowd of Trans Am were out at the various bear events associated with Hairrison Street Fair. Of the guys who did show up, though, most were of the sort you might expect to see at the Eagle on a Sunday afternoon, pierced, tattooed, punky, but probably about ten years younger on average than your typical Eagle beer swiller.
The music was also very reminiscent of the Eagle, but the tracks leaned more toward the Arcade Fire than the Stooges. When Jason Kendig went on upstairs there was a dirge-like, droning quality to his selections, though later he slipped into stuff with more distinct beats and a clearer sound. The thing I really noticed, though, was that no one danced, at all, to anything. Maybe if we had stayed later there would have eventually been some dance action, or if there had been a bigger crowd, but this was the way in which Trans Am felt most like The Eagle to me - lots of guys standing around, drinking to rock music. The overall vibe might have skewed more to indie/emo college rock, but I would completely expect to see many of these faces on Sunday afternoon as well, as though they had just shifted from one location to the other.
I'm curious to see what Trans Am is like on a busier weekend, and whether it gears over into a more lively scene. I had an okay time, and if I was looking for a fairly low-impact Saturday night of hanging out and drinking I would certainly consider Trans Am, but, even with the promise of a live band, a $5 cover seems a bit much for what is really a bar night with gay DJs playing rock music. Why not go to The Eagle, or the Lone Star, where you can get pretty much the same thing without paying a cover?