by Clint Burgess

The promise of a little fun on the wrong side of the tracks lured me to the Comet on Saturday night. Located on the strip in Hillyard, this place was North Market to the bone. Picture for a moment, if you can, the evening's entertainment. The time warp-esque Knucklehead was kicking out the jams. Imagine the most metal outfit imaginable, then multiply that sobering visualization by 10.

This metal three-piece was all glam and had the classic symptoms to prove it. A stringy, bleach-blonde lead singer -- complete with a sleeveless 4-20 T-shirt. His weapon of choice was the most bizarrely shaped Kramer axe I've ever seen. To complete his ensemble, he accessorized with a leather-clad female bass player. I could tell I was in for a treat. Knucklehead implemented all the essentials into its set. Shredding, tapping and the obligatory whippin' solo all made appearances during the night. On one occasion, there was a dive on the whammy bar that sunk deeper than the lowest, nastiest D minor known to man. These guys (and a girl) rocked.

I took a break from the music to check out the patio in the back. A few locals hung out in the spacious, low-key area, which was well-lit and even included green plastic patio furniture, perfect for enjoying mixed drinks on a cool summer evening. The rest of the bar was accentuated by numerous beer signs and a couple of televisions. There's pool for the hustlers, video games for the bored and the ever-popular pull tab machines. The Comet was organized and clean, and the bar staff was friendly. You can't beat a $2.50 Heineken. If you've just got to cure the headache from the night before, you can even come back to the Comet for a steak-and-eggs breakfast.

I was distracted from my assessment of the place by the cranking and wanking coming from the stage. Knucklehead was at its pinnacle, doing Van Halen covers ripe with delay-soaked guitar heroism and fret board wizardry. They even pulled off a decent cover of "House of the Rising Sun" a la The Animals. They only got two or three people out on the dance floor, but at least the ample space could have supported more. The sound system was great, and there was even a lethargically paced disco ball.

The Comet has a neighborhood feel to it; the patrons were laid back, ranging from burnouts to the younger generation.

Another amenity that I'm always appreciative of was the clean, non-threatening restroom. I believe you can tell a lot about a venue by this portion of their operations. Although someone did heist my pen in there, I'd still give it an eight out of 10.

Just make sure that if you're visiting the Comet that you sport your best acid-washed jeans and dig out that retired Iron Maiden shirt.

Publication date: 08/28/03

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