We all knew that when the Cobalt died on September 30th, 2009, that there would be somebody filling the space. We merely hoped that some respect would be shown towards the legacy that Wendy "13" Churcheen had created for the space, and not do something like keep the name while turning it into just another hipster dancebar. Well, respect wasn't shown, it was thrown out the window. On February 15th, 2010, Wendy brought it to the attention of the denizens of Facebook that new owners, who I will not name, were opening up in the space, keeping the name, and trying to ride on her coat tails by proclaiming it as the "Underground" and "Legendary" Cobalt. This was a kick to the ribs of the punk and metal scenes in Vancouver, two groups who were just starting to climb back to their feet, and gave them a common enemy: The Fauxbalt.
As you may have guessed, punks and metallers didn't take this news well. Some bombarded the wall of the Fauxbalt's facebook group with insults and scatalogical pictures. Others wrote reviews on various local websites discussing the history of their beloved 'Balt, whilst trashing the new owners for trying to leach off the legacy of scene matriarch, Wendy 13. The owners tried to smooth things over, and were made to look ignorant when the facts were brought out in a "Cobalt Fact Sheet" detailing Wendy 13's side of the story. This, of course, was followed by some of their friends and their DJ joining in the flame war. Eventually though, it died down, with the new owners agreeing to not use the name "The Cobalt," and dropping the "legendary" and "underground" from their tagline. By becoming 917 Main, the angry masses were sated for a time...
In early March, an article demeaning the 'Balt loyalists was released in Beatroute magazine. This was followed by an article praising the new owners published on the website of a Vancouver-based hipster newspaper high on "indie cred" but low on fact-checking. Additionally, posters are now out advertising shows at this venue, using Wendy's old Cobalt logo. Occasionally, yes, there are people who are still upset that will venture in, let out a defamatory utterance involved the name "Fauxbalt," and leave. I can understand how passing by this place is like re-opening an old wound, but I still admit we should be carrying ourselves better. Still, people associated with this new venue insist they're in it for the music, while relying mostly on DJs for entertainment, and continue to talk down to people who are part of an actual musical community.
With the dwindlying amount of bars and clubs showcasing live music, it's getting harder and harder to see bands, especially ones that are more underground. With the loss of the Cobalt and it's zombification as a place more likely to cater to fans of DJs than the Dead Kennedies, one more venue has been taken away from us. Mike Selman, of Victoria's Unleash the Archers, sums up the situation perfectly when he says, "At the end of the day its not the venue that made Wendy, but Wendy that made the venue. She has a good rep with the bands and thats what counts. She is a solid promoter and as a result she wont have problems booking bands full time once again providing she can find the right location." These are the words of someone who played at the Cobalt numerous times, but will no longer be able to take the stage there, even if he wanted to. Wendy 13 has a legacy that is associated with name "The Cobalt," and every time these new owners try to leach off it, they're perpetuating the bad impressions they came in with. More than ever, all we can do is hope that Wendy will find this right location, and show the doubters, the haters, and the hipsters that the real underground can not be killed.