No beard, no leather, no service

To be sure, it was something of a dicey evening. I had been warned by my more upstanding friends that the Time-Out Tavern was something of a dive bar, but then again, I like a good dive bar. I had come, after all, to see a band called Metaln—a group described on the Time-Out Tavern Web site as “’80s rock.” The idea of a band called Metaln playing at a Fair Oaks dive bar (4729 San Juan Avenue) was frankly just too good to pass up.

In any case, I was prepared for the fleet of Harleys parked menacingly out front and for the angry, drunken patron being ejected from the club by both his staff and his friends. (“Fucking assholes. I can kick all their motherfucking asses,” said the drunken patron. “That’s what I’m afraid of,” said his friend. The drunken patron, nonplussed, shouted through the doorway: “Fucking taco-eating motherfucker.” Needless to say, this didn’t go over particularly well.)

But alas, I digress. Having miraculously passed through any resulting fracas, I managed to get to the bar, where—amazingly enough—there was an empty barstool. I seated myself and asked for a beer. Moments later, the woman next to me suddenly said, “I’m so angry, I just want to kick someone’s fucking ass.” She turned to me, tears streaming down her face. “I work so hard, and I don’t get shit,” she said. Then she mumbled something mangled by an overindulgence in whiskey and cigarettes and, as she began to nod off at the bar, I made my escape band-ward, following the screeching sounds of “Mississippi Queen” toward the stage area.

It was a regular party down in there, where the owners of the motorcycle fleet outside sat drinking beer and shots and listening to Metaln in an ever-increasing drunken daze. (I was beginning to feel like I’d fallen into a video game. Grand Theft Auto: Fair Oaks?) Surprisingly (at least for me), Metaln was a superb cover band, focusing primarily on 1980s metal while tossing out covers of Dio, Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC and Judas Priest, along with a few tangential songs (covers of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Mountain) and a handful of originals in the same general vein.

The kicker here was vocalist Chris Duran, a longtime veteran of the local scene and former member of local group Kattywompus. Duran could cover both the melodic parts and the screeching evil necessary in singing the genre—all of it pitch-perfect. Speaking of perfect, the band was just that, particularly given the location, the audience and the general vibe. During the break (Metaln played a staggering four sets), one man came up to Duran and told him, simply, “You guys are exactly what I needed tonight.” That probably summed up what everyone was thinking.

I was told by the band that Metaln is currently working on its Web site, at, which still has a lot of “Sorry! Still under construction” links. Better yet, though, would be to watch the Time-Out Tavern Web site, at, to find out when the band will be playing there next. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget, to be sure. Bring your beard, your leathers and a healthy appetite for tequila.