Monday, October 16, 2006

CBGB's Is Dead

It joins a long list of departed rock clubs, like the Bottom Line. But while I'm sorry to see CBGBs go, I'm not really sad. It's not like the closing of independent bookstores where there are no new ones to take their place. Other clubs have opened and become the hot place to see bands. And tradition is great, but rock n roll ain't about tradition. As a friend said when she went to see one of the last shows, "What a dump!" I've seen some good shows there, but for a good decade now CBGB's survived by letting any old new act tramp through their doors. Cool, but not a way to program a great venue. What was the last new band discovered or deified at CBGB's? The usual list - the Ramones, Talking Heads, Television, etc. -- ends pretty conspicuously in the late 70s early 80s. Same thing with the Bottom Line (which I went to a lot more). I never did get a chance to see Springsteen pop in and recreate his epic "Born To Run" concerts, but I did see great shows by Lyle Lovett, Linda Thompson and others. But for at least the last 10 years of its life, the Bottom Line hardly even tried to keep its bookings vibrant: they kept rotating the same aging acts again and again and again. The sense of discovery was long gone. So a hearty cheer for CBGB's past, just as long as you keep in mind that its heyday was in fact long past. P.S. If it ever comes up at a bar's trivia night, the initials stand for Country, Bluegrass and Blues.


Reid Davis said...

Soul Coughing came up in the early 90s largely playing CB's 313 Gallery. Does that count?

Michael in New York said...

Sure, absolutely. I didn't mean to imply that NOTHING had happened at CBGBs. But even Soul Coughing is more than a decade ago. If it's been 10 years since a club launched an act or had memorable shows, maybe it's time has passed. The fact that the owner is thinking of opening it in Las Vegas speaks volumes to where his head is at and the "branding" value of CBGB's, which is all they had left. I don't want to spit on their grave, just suggesting CBGB's died a long time ago.