Does New York City Really Need CBGB To Return?

Categories: CBGB

cbgb_angle.jpg
Billy V/Flickr
So the big punks-not-dead news, that is actually a rumor, of the past 24 hours comes from a post on Gothamist claiming that the people who have access to a bunch of CBGB's old things (although not the awning) are planning to reopen the iconic punk club "somewhere in Manhattan," though not at the club's old space on 315 Bowery because it's currently being used to hawk expensive menswear and way-marked-up vinyl. So serious are these unnamed folks' apparent intentions, in fact, that they have set up a Twitter account. Yesterday its timeline was studded with missives asking Courtney Love and Duff McKagan if they'd play a big festival happening this summer; there was also a Shepard Fairey-ish rejected poster for the fest. Those tweets have been deleted, but the image of the poster—as well as musings about Guns N' Roses and Sid Vicious—remain.

Also remaining: Questions about this whole enterprise. Namely, is breathing new life into the dessicated husk of CBGB really a necessary thing at this point? And is the club that results from this revival going to be any good—by which I mean "fun to go to, with decent bookings and not too many tourist trappings"—at all?

I'm not so sure. Call me a pessimist, but I suspect that any attempt to revitalize the CBGB "brand" with a club in Manhattan will likely result in a somewhat tourist-trappy club with overpriced drinks, awkward attempts to recreate the old "vibe", museum-y honorings of punk legends past (even though wasn't the whole point of punk... oh, forget it)—and, most importantly, lousy bookings studded by the occasional stunt show from a big-name artist that people not affiliated with the media or the biz can't get into, but that will be promoted to the skies for "brand recognition" on both sides. (I can see the "SKRILLEX TO HEADLINE CBGB" press releases now!) This isn't to say that I don't have faith in whoever the people might be; I just think that maybe, at this point and especially given recent history, it's better to let the idea of CBGB and what punk once was live on in everyone's collective memory, whether those early notions were forged at Ramones shows in the '70s or a Tsunami show in the '90s. And no, it's not a tragedy if future generations don't get to share in those memories by going to a show "at CBGB"; let's face it, the experience provided by a reconstituted version of the club in some other area of Manhattan will be more of a theme-park one that the kids will probably see right through and eschew for events that are more in keeping with their generation's own ideas of what punk is, and what it can be.

(And real talk: If the people behind this CBGB revival will not sleep until their desire to bring a prismed version of Oldish New York City into the slicker, meaner, more moneyed New York of the present is satiated, why not revive Brownies? Or Tonic? They haven't been exploited for nearly as many licensing opportunities—but, you know, that's probably for the best. And during their twilights they generally had better bookings, too.)

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14 comments
Aron Kay
Aron Kay

i used to live at 9 bleecker in the 70's....i recall the advent of punk at cbgb which inspired  us the yippies to open studio 10 at 10 bleecker st....now i would like to see it happen

EarlyMorningCoffee
EarlyMorningCoffee

What happened to New York? Change your culture. Get rid of that mayor.

pschase
pschase

hahaaa, this is just a fun conversation for anyone who was there...CB's did suck the last few years. They wouldn't book one of my old bands, even though it was damn near my daycare...

I would love to see Brownies come back, with a clause that Coney Island High would come back too, in their original locations!!  And fuck it, throw in the Continental with Seamonster playing twice a month. Those were _____ days....

Mike Appelstein
Mike Appelstein

Perhaps this is a good place to relaunch "Alternative Pale Ale," since it bombed at Maxwell's in the '90s.

Great Tsunami clip, btw!!

Anon
Anon

If we're going to bring any live music clubs back from the dead, bring back Manny's Car Wash, The Bottom Line, Tramps and Wetlands before we resurrect the moldering corpse of CBGB's, which by the time it closed, hadn't broken a band in over 15 years.

Jim Testa
Jim Testa

I completely agree with Maura Johnston.  Nostalgia aside, the last 15 years of CBGB (if not longer) consisted of seven randomly chosen,  mediocre local bands thrown together six nights a week (and the dubious "audition night" on Sunday.)  Yes the place had a great sound system (and the occasional good show,) but it also had the highest drink prices on the LES.  We have Arlene Grocery and Lit Lounge if that's what people want. The kids who pile into (and the bands who play)  Shea Stadium and Death By Audio every weekend don't need a new CBGB.  If this happens, it's hard not to imagine it won't be somewhere in Times Square or nearby with the principal goal of selling souvenir t-shirts and separating gawking tourists from their euros and yen.

Joeranci
Joeranci

I'm under the impression you will complain about anything. First people were mad CBGB's was going away, now you're kinda being a debbie downer about it maybe coming back. Does anything make you happy? Or are you just looking for things to complain about?

Young Scuba
Young Scuba

Imagining Skrillex performing at CBGB hurt my soul

David Grossman
David Grossman

Wavves will play opening night, and every night. This slightly corporate punkishness is right up Nathan's alley.

Innajunglestylee
Innajunglestylee

I for one look forward to drinking a CBGBtini in the new space.  

maura
maura

Don't you think though that it'll come back in a way diminished capacity? I'm all for new venues opening up, but not if they're going to be half-assed attempts to bring back "the old days." 

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