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CBGB's
April 6, 2009 1:42 PM   Subscribe

We all know of the importance and impact that CBGB's had on the early East Coast punk scene. I could go and link to a bunch you tube videos, obituaries, and other assorted blogs about my favorite acts that had played there over the years. And while CBGB's is gone, why I don't I just let you take a virtual tour of the place.
posted by peewinkle (45 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome post.

The club appears to have been replaced by a John Varvatos boutique.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:50 PM on April 6, 2009


Needs smell-o-vision.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:53 PM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


And the first thing we learn on our tour is that the club is called CBGB.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:54 PM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Any chance of a tour of Max's Kansas City? I would have loved to chat with Johnny Thunders and kibbutz with John Cameron Mitchell.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 1:56 PM on April 6, 2009


Before the inevitable flood of snark arrives, let me just say this is fantastic. Thanks.
posted by davebush at 1:58 PM on April 6, 2009


TheWhiteSkull: "Needs smell-o-vision."

I thought exactly the same thing. In fact, this post is arguably eponysterical.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:01 PM on April 6, 2009


Those bathrooms are just as disgusting as I remember them being. I miss the hell out of that place.
posted by deadmessenger at 2:02 PM on April 6, 2009


Can't check it right now. Any trustafarian dweeb smoking crack in the bathroom?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:06 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Completely awesome, yes. Brings back memories.

I ran the lights at CBs for a little while one night, up in that little booth. A friend was the backup lights person, when the regular person went out of town. I went to visit her one night while she was working, and climbed up into the booth, and thought that was cool enough. Then she went to go do something, talk to people maybe, and she told me to take over.

I must have looked slightly panicked, but she told me that there was really nothing to it. You twiddle some knobs or dials or whatever it was when the music changes tempo or key... just pay attention and twiddle along with the music. So that's what I did, for a band or two. My small, mostly non-hardcore, contribution to the legend.
posted by dammitjim at 2:11 PM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


OMFUG
posted by caddis at 2:15 PM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Woah, that was way cooler than I expected. What happened to this place?
posted by Corduroy at 2:16 PM on April 6, 2009


Just thinking about it makes me all vaklempt. Talk amongst yourselves; here's a topic: CBGB was neither Country, Bluegrass, nor Blues. Discuss.
posted by The White Hat at 2:16 PM on April 6, 2009


So that's where my t-shirt is from?
posted by Science! at 2:17 PM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


What happened to this place?

It stopped showcasing innovative and interesting bands and instead because a parodic mausoleum to a scene that passed it by decades earlier.
posted by saladin at 2:26 PM on April 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


CBGB was neither Country, Bluegrass, nor Blues.

hence OMFUG
posted by caddis at 2:28 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


My youth was spent at the hardcore matinees in the early-mid 80s. Never have I seen that club with the lights on, its so bright and shiny!
posted by cazoo at 2:46 PM on April 6, 2009


I never went there, but these photos just make me miss Dirty--the dirt of sabotage rather than neglect, stickers over stickers, scrawls of wisdom and rumors from ancient history, a tradition of decay in these unkillable spaces that only the sucess of the 90s finally cleaned up and paved over. Makes me want to put my head through a wall.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:48 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


yeah, me and the boys in our local band brought out all of gear in front of the computer monitor and played a full set. it was so awesome to finally play cbgb. so much history. the sound could've been a mixed a little better, though. soundguys never mix us like they should.

truth be told, we were a little disappointed that the turnout was like most of our local shows.
posted by the aloha at 2:51 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah, memories! You can practically smell the piss.

What happened to this place?

Mistah CB—he dead.
posted by languagehat at 3:15 PM on April 6, 2009


This ain't no party, this ain't no disco
this ain't no fooling around
This ain't no mudd club, or CBGB.
I ain't got time for that now
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 3:44 PM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Great, now the soles of my sneakers are sticky.
posted by not_on_display at 4:21 PM on April 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Played there a dozen times in three different bands. Miss those days. Don't have anything like it now.

Swimming awake the next day with a gut full of acid, a fifty pound brain pan, sand dune nostrils, and positively reeking of blond beer and stale smoke -- a stench that got baked into your skin like the glaze on a ceramic bowl and stayed there for days no matter how much fucking turpentine you used -- well, not so much.
posted by milquetoast at 4:30 PM on April 6, 2009


Memories indeed. This is really pretty damn cool.

I guess I played CBs about, oh 10 or 12 times circa 1984 ~ 1993, so what a trip to see this virtual view from the stage. Really does bring back memories, and most of them surprisingly fond! All in all, though, the virtual view is brighter and more colorful than the place ever appeared to the actual (not virtual) eye. The grime factor and, mainly, I guess, the low-light factor made the entire place much more black than it appears here. That's how I remember it, anyway, kind of... black.

And good god amighty, head up to the entrance and there he is, ladies and gentlemen... Hilly! The man himself! Sitting at his little perch near the front door, holding what appears to be a roll of bills, none of which the musicians will ever see! Tell the truth, I didn't really recognize him at first, clean-shaven as his is in that pic. He'd usually be mumbling something barely intelligible through his scraggly beard as you hauled your instruments in and out the place... here's his wiki page.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:58 PM on April 6, 2009


I had a chance to sing at CBGBs in the early 90s...but I decided taking my finals was more important. Yeah, I kind of regret that.
posted by JoanArkham at 5:00 PM on April 6, 2009


I played there 4 or 5 times in the late 90s and hated every single time. I'm pretty sure I lost most of the hearing in my right ear from a particularly nasty feedback scream from that very monitor. And nobody ever came to the shows! CB's Gallery next door was MUCH better. Is that place still there?
posted by drinkcoffee at 5:06 PM on April 6, 2009


CB's Gallery next door was MUCH better.

Yeah, the Gallery (played there several times too) was certainly cleaner and politer... it was a good room, spacious and good sightlines. They even some balcony seating. The sound system , of course, wasn't the insane powerhouse that CBGB's was. You weren't as likely to get that wicked blast of feedback that you mentioned, but you also wouldn't get the sheer bludgeoning force of nature that made you feel like some sort of rock and roll animal for 30 or 40 minutes of sheer pounding glory. The Gallery, of course, was for quieter acts, acoustic and so on, and I was really glad when they opened that place. It was a good place to play, but I never felt like they matched the right PA with the acoustics of the room. It never sounded that good to me. Course, the last time I played the Gallery was around 1994, so it might've gotten better after that...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:17 PM on April 6, 2009


What's really amazing to think about is that the Ramones were like the house act there in 1974. Think about it. They started playing there when Nixon was still president.
posted by ornate insect at 5:28 PM on April 6, 2009


...Nixon was still president.

*shudders*
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:42 PM on April 6, 2009


About six minutes into this bit of punk nostalgia Hilly Kristal appears (circa 1976) in his famed club to address the "issue" of punk violence.
posted by ornate insect at 5:59 PM on April 6, 2009


Contrary to all the other reports here, my band had pretty good shows here, including our record release. I kinda miss the place when I think about it, which isn't very often.
posted by Brainy at 6:25 PM on April 6, 2009


Heh, so that's what it would have looked like with the lights on. Does NOT need smell-o-vision. I once had a band dedicate their entire set to me there.
posted by nowonmai at 11:05 PM on April 6, 2009


HAW HAW HAW!


Yeah that was great.


Who knew that CBGB would be history?

Funny funny schtuff.
-
posted by Ron Thanagar at 11:23 PM on April 6, 2009


Before the inevitable flood of snark arrives...

No such flood was forthcoming.

Contrary to all the other reports here...

AHEM. I said most of my memories were fond.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:28 PM on April 6, 2009


If you like this virtual tour of CBGBs... You'll love Radio Silence an awesome new book that takes a non-nostalgic visual tour of the American hardcore punk scene. If you just look at the sample pages you'll see it contains a treasure of artwork mockups, unseen photos, inside stories, etc.

Disclaimer: I have nothing to do with the book, I just think it's awesome.
posted by xpermanentx at 1:18 AM on April 7, 2009


Science!: "So that's where my t-shirt is from?"

No. It's from Hot Topic.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 5:47 AM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Very cool but there's a few more rooms backstage that they didn't include for some reason. Standing on this stage and looking out into the crowd was definitely one of the most memorable experiences of my young life. That said I missed the Television/Ramones/Richard Hell/Johnny Thunders/Reagan Youth years. When I was going there it was mostly awful, bizarrely nationalistic, latino hardcore groups and their thug followers and lame "surprise" junkets by big "Corporate Punk" rebels like Green Day.
posted by inoculatedcities at 8:08 AM on April 7, 2009


Love this..
posted by Skygazer at 11:04 AM on April 7, 2009


But, why the hell does the tour begin in the girl's bathroom. (Yeah, that's the girls, the men's was a stinking open sewer with no stalls and I don't even think there was a toilet. Just a hole in the floor or somethin....truly truly horrid it was.)
posted by Skygazer at 11:09 AM on April 7, 2009


the men's was a stinking open sewer with no stalls and I don't even think there was a toilet. Just a hole in the floor or somethin....truly truly horrid it was.

I was trying to remember what the men's room was like, and now I know why my memory blocked it. (Either that or I got it confused with the men's room in the Kursk Railway Station in Moscow, which fits the same description, or did when I was there in 1971.)
posted by languagehat at 11:21 AM on April 7, 2009


FlapjaxAtMidnight: Hilly! The man himself! Sitting at his little perch near the front door, holding what appears to be a roll of bills, none of which the musicians will ever see!

Ah ha ha. So true, so true. Even worse than the pittance you got paid, was discovering from the iconic CBGB ad, that ran every week in Village Voice, that the show you'd worked your ass off to secure with Louise (the booker who was equal parts loved and despised), and that you and your band mates had pasted flyers for all over the East Village had mysteriously been canceled. You would know this, because your bands name was nowhere to be found in the ad.

Although, to be fair, Louise usually tried to make up for it by giving you a better show.


As a teen though going to hardcore matinees on Sunday, it's difficult to describe the adrenaline rush of equal parts terror and ecstasy the place inspired.
posted by Skygazer at 9:56 PM on April 7, 2009


Languagehat: I got it confused with the men's room in the Kursk Railway Station in Moscow, which fits the same description, or did when I was there in 1971.

It was easy to forgive, because they had one of the best sound systems in the city. I always thought the reason the place looked the way it did and that the men's room was such an abomination is that they pumped all the money that would've gone into making the place prettier into that kick-ass incredible PA.

I would guess the Kursk Railway Station in Moscow, in 1971, or even in the present day, cannot boast of having a KICK-ASS PA system that made even the lousiest drummers sound like rock GODS...
posted by Skygazer at 10:07 PM on April 7, 2009


Skygazer, of course! Thanks for mentioning Louise, who, as you've reminded, was the booker and who was really pretty cool, given the unenviable job she had.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:04 AM on April 8, 2009


Actually, the toilet in the men's room was kind of famous, sitting up on its stone pedestal. You can access the men's room from the stage view to see the toilet that was probably never used for much more than a puke receptacle.
posted by caddis at 8:15 AM on April 8, 2009


I don't know. MAybe it's cause I tried to go in there as little as possible, but I don't remember no stinkin' toilet. All I remember is a big ass puddle of shit and vomit (and who knows what else) and a hole in the ground where the toilet should've been. And those two gross urinals (one always had a black hefty bag over it.)

Blech.
posted by Skygazer at 11:05 AM on April 8, 2009


It's hard to forget that throne standing there on its dais in plain view of anyone coming down the stairs. Any poor guy who was caught short and had to use it was forced to look all comers straight in the eye as they descended. And you couldn't just go into the ladies room where there was a little more privacy, as that was even filthier and the lavatories perpetually overflowing with vomit.
Also that one step of a different height halfway down the staircase? Got me every time.
posted by nowonmai at 11:43 PM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


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