When Did Playing At CBGB Become A Symbolic Gesture?

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Inspired by the fact that Big & Rich played there last night. (I didn't go.)

CBGB went from birthing-ground of punk to a place where you can go to prove you're "real." Except that Big & Rich seem to be hell-bent on some kind of Ultimate Phoniness that's Realer Than Real, or something. So a CBGB show is part of their bricolage of bullshit, just like the cheerleader hoochie dancers on the CMT awards or the black cowboy rapper or whatever else is in the gumbo of decontextualized popcult whatnot they're hurling in every direction. And it seems like it's served this purpose for other folks, too...didn't Metallica play there not so long ago?

Talk about "non-punk" (or, perhaps, "not what you think when you think CBGB") bands that have played CBGB, and when exactly you think the place became a source of instant-"cred." And whether aggressively phony bands are even using it as such, or just attempting to confuse the issue even further. And whether that's a good or a bad thing. No, scratch that last question, as it'll just devolve into pop-ist/rockist pseudo-dogma-smashing from the usual suspects. Answer instead: why has this repurposing taken place?

Phil Freeman (Phil Freeman), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:38 (sixteen years ago) link

Big & Rich should play the Apollo.

hstencil (hstencil), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:41 (sixteen years ago) link

what's new about it?

cinniblount (James Blount), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:42 (sixteen years ago) link

I saw Pavement at CBGBs but arguably they have some punk aspect to them.

hstencil (hstencil), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:43 (sixteen years ago) link

>what's new about it?

Nothing. Re-read the opening paragraphs; I'm not slamming B&R, I'm looking for a discussion of a larger phenomenon.

Phil Freeman (Phil Freeman), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:47 (sixteen years ago) link

whereas in the past espn jams were typified by anything related to c.c. lemonhead and jay ski, lately big $ rich have gotten much play (with only more in the offing - major placement in the world series of poker)? why has this repurposing taken place?

cinniblount (James Blount), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:48 (sixteen years ago) link

better yet Big & Rich should play at the Prospect Park Bandshell. Or maybe just a club in Bed-Stuy.

hstencil (hstencil), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:49 (sixteen years ago) link

answering the question: 1975

cinniblount (James Blount), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:49 (sixteen years ago) link

hahahaha yeah blount totally OTM.

hstencil (hstencil), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:51 (sixteen years ago) link

http://www.hottopic.com/store/product.asp?ITEM=649732
-- People love Gravity and Ebullition! (Jonathan(dot)Williams@Google's_Amazing_New_Free_Email_Service(dot)com), June 24th, 2004.

Jon, if you're so "above" the pseudo-rebellious, non-noise lovin' kiddie punks, then why are you so damn obsessed with them?

latebloomer (latebloomer), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:51 (sixteen years ago) link

because they get all his chicks.

Huk-El (Horace Mann), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:52 (sixteen years ago) link

You can't make me like Wire.

People love Gravity and Ebullition! (ex machina), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:53 (sixteen years ago) link

Morrissey playing the Apollo recently seemed to be sort of the similar type of thing Phil's talking about....the symbolic gesture part.

M@tt He1geson (Matt Helgeson), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:53 (sixteen years ago) link

It had that stink about it as soon as the first wave went through

bands like the replacements went through reacting to it hallowedness

danh (danh), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:54 (sixteen years ago) link

You can't make me like Wire.
-- People love Gravity and Ebullition! (Jonathan(dot)Williams@Google's_Amazing_New_Free_Email_Service(dot)com), June 24th, 2004.

um, i wasn't trying to.

latebloomer (latebloomer), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:55 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm always up for Replacements hate.

People love Gravity and Ebullition! (ex machina), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:56 (sixteen years ago) link

Morrissey playing the Apollo recently seemed to be sort of the similar type of thing Phil's talking about....the symbolic gesture part.

I thought that at first, but then I realized the Mozzer's rider demands are probably in line with what the Apollo's staff are used to, so it fits.

hstencil (hstencil), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:56 (sixteen years ago) link

ok, that's cool, 'cause i don't give a shit about the mats.

latebloomer (latebloomer), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:56 (sixteen years ago) link

x-post, sorry

latebloomer (latebloomer), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:57 (sixteen years ago) link

I don't think CBGB has had any sort of cool cache for like 10 years at least. Metallica playing there just represents how far removed that band is from the 'club scene' and reveals them to be old/out of touch, if nothing else. CB's sells a lot of t-shirts, though.

mcd (mcd), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:58 (sixteen years ago) link

i was thinking of you when i typed that

danh (danh), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:59 (sixteen years ago) link

But it's not like anybody who goes to Showtime At the Apollo would accidentally show up for a Morrissey show there, right?
Likewise, I'm sure nobody showed up at the CBGB-BnfnR gig expecting the Voidods. So what's the big whoop?

Huk-El (Horace Mann), Thursday, 24 June 2004 17:59 (sixteen years ago) link

CBCGs played host to string of sterling indy-rock shows in the early 90s. Since then, it's become kind of a battle-of-the-bands-type place for high school acts. It's really not associated with punk anymore, and few name acts play there. My friend had his wedding reception there; you get the picture.

SexyNYer, Thursday, 24 June 2004 18:02 (sixteen years ago) link

i blame living colour

cinniblount (James Blount), Thursday, 24 June 2004 18:03 (sixteen years ago) link

I listened to Chairs Missing today. It was awesome.

Sonny A. (Keiko), Thursday, 24 June 2004 18:12 (sixteen years ago) link

When Big & Rich play East New York, then I'll give a shit.

hstencil (hstencil), Thursday, 24 June 2004 18:36 (sixteen years ago) link

1985.

Chris Ott (Chris Ott), Thursday, 24 June 2004 18:46 (sixteen years ago) link

Ott the mark.

hstencil (hstencil), Thursday, 24 June 2004 18:52 (sixteen years ago) link

using the bathroom there is a symnbolic gesture

cutty (mcutt), Thursday, 24 June 2004 18:54 (sixteen years ago) link

SexyNYer is right. For most of the late '80s and '90s, CBGB was a legitimate, functioning venue on the circuit. I had frequent reason to go, and I saw a bunch of excellent, non-mallpunk bands there: Barbara Manning, Heavens to Betsy, TFUL242, Scrawl, a whole night of Slumberland bands, etc. Sonic Youth used to appear there constantly, and the Pixies played their first NYC show there. That's not even counting CB's Gallery, a frequent stop for smaller and more experimental acts.

The good shows at CB's proper seem to have dried up around 1997 or so. I think the last time I went there was 1998 to see a friend's band play. The thing is, though, that CB's booking policy has always been uneven at best. There are rarely less than five bands on an average bill, and at least one or two will be audition-night refugees. It's therefore not only possible, but almost inevitable, to see the best AND worst bands in the world on the same bill. Judging from vintage ads I've seen, this has been true since Television discovered the place.

If Hilly's trading on CB's supposed "cred," maybe that's a smart business move - I hear the club's having hard times paying the rent these days. But to me, there's no better tribute to "punk" than for CBGB to function as a regular concert venue, a place where today's best bands can play and feel comfortable. Otherwise, it's just a shitty bar-cum-'70s mausoleum with ugly T-shirts. Why bother going?

mike a, Thursday, 24 June 2004 19:01 (sixteen years ago) link

youre an ugly tshirt

peter smith (plsmith), Thursday, 24 June 2004 19:06 (sixteen years ago) link

I'll bet $10 CB's doesn't exist in 5 years.

hstencil (hstencil), Thursday, 24 June 2004 19:10 (sixteen years ago) link

it's basically just a tourist trap at this point, innit?

cutty (mcutt), Thursday, 24 June 2004 19:10 (sixteen years ago) link

"at this point"

hstencil (hstencil), Thursday, 24 June 2004 19:13 (sixteen years ago) link

Wait, let me calm down a bit - according to http://www.cbgb.com, the decent band occasionally does play there. But still, the good bands are vastly outnumbered by reformed '80s punks.

mike a, Thursday, 24 June 2004 19:13 (sixteen years ago) link

Has Chuck Eddy given his play-by-play of the Big & Rich show anywhere yet? I know he was as excited as Christmas about it last week ...

Joseph McCombs, Thursday, 24 June 2004 19:16 (sixteen years ago) link

check the bottom of the big & rich: album of the decade thread

common_person (common_person), Thursday, 24 June 2004 20:01 (sixteen years ago) link

They probably make way more money off of licensing T-shirts than at the actual bar.

Aaron W (Aaron W), Thursday, 24 June 2004 20:11 (sixteen years ago) link

oh i don't doubt that for a sec

cinniblount (James Blount), Thursday, 24 June 2004 20:14 (sixteen years ago) link

"I saw Pavement at CBGBs but arguably they have some punk aspect to them."

...there's this Jon Stewart Daily Show book coming out soon called "America". I won't get into the specifics, but the punchline to a joke that starts "Favorite Punk Band" is "Does Pavement count?"

Mike Dixon (Mike Dixon), Friday, 25 June 2004 10:30 (sixteen years ago) link

I don't know; maybe my views are a little out of date, as it's been years since I lived in NYC. But honestly, I used to view bands playing CBGB's with the same level of disdain as bands playing The Spiral, cause on weeknights they had the same "just let anyone play" booking policy.

And then suddenly, Punk was all cool again, so who knows, that might have changed.

He wants to be me (kate), Friday, 25 June 2004 10:34 (sixteen years ago) link

Country, Blue Grass, Blues. And other blah etc.

It's a venue. They had some cool bands. They prob still do. Don't get precious.

mark grout (mark grout), Friday, 25 June 2004 10:35 (sixteen years ago) link

...when the Police played there in 1978!

lovebug starski, Friday, 25 June 2004 10:36 (sixteen years ago) link

.. coz as soon as you have to 'qualify' as punk, and when punk becomes unfashionable again, venue dies.

mark grout (mark grout), Friday, 25 June 2004 10:37 (sixteen years ago) link

I hate agreeing with Chris Ott, but 1985 is on the money.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Friday, 25 June 2004 10:49 (sixteen years ago) link

...and regardless of its status as "Punk Ground Zero," it was certainly never conceived with that in mind (the letters famously stand for Country Blue Grass Blues), and I believe it's always hosted the odd absolutely-not-Punk-in-the-slightest act.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Friday, 25 June 2004 10:53 (sixteen years ago) link

Seems the CBGB's t-shirt has gone the same way as the Motorhead t-shirt.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Friday, 25 June 2004 17:25 (sixteen years ago) link

and the Ramones shirt.

hstencil (hstencil), Friday, 25 June 2004 17:27 (sixteen years ago) link

:::sigh::::

So OTM, Stence, so OTM.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Friday, 25 June 2004 17:29 (sixteen years ago) link

Why 1985? (Just curious. There wasn't some particular scene centered around the place that died around that time, was there?)

Tim Ellison, Friday, 25 June 2004 17:43 (sixteen years ago) link

Well, there was the whole Sunday Hardcore Matinee scene. That was pretty huge at the time.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Friday, 25 June 2004 17:54 (sixteen years ago) link

I think sometime after the mid-80's, it went from being a "cool place to play" to becoming some sort've "rite of passage" place. By `89 or so, it was definetely settling into its "institution" phase (people coming from miles around just to see the squalor of the bathroom, etc.)

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Friday, 25 June 2004 17:56 (sixteen years ago) link

I believe it's always hosted the odd absolutely-not-Punk-in-the-slightest act.

talking heads to thread.

fact checking cuz (fcc), Friday, 25 June 2004 18:01 (sixteen years ago) link

like any normal club, especially any club that insists on booking 700 bands a week, for most of their existence they had some good shows and they had some bad shows, with no particular rhyme or reason.

good shows i saw at cbgb in the mid '90s, none of them remotely punk: magnetic fields, the frogs, guided by voices

crappy shows by bands trying to capitalize on the name that i (and, as often as not, matt dillon) saw in the mid '90s: j mascis, x, meat puppets (all of whom probably played there when they were younger and weren't doing crappy shows)


fact checking cuz (fcc), Friday, 25 June 2004 18:07 (sixteen years ago) link

I remember seeing Gavin Friday perform at CB's in `89, and he spent half the show incredulously lamenting his theretofore fascination with the place. "This dump is CBGB's???" etc.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Friday, 25 June 2004 20:01 (sixteen years ago) link

one year passes...
did you know the letters CBGB originally stood for "country, blue grass, blues"?

broseph, Friday, 5 August 2005 02:50 (fifteen years ago) link

"CBGB is the last rock'n'roll club left," said Van Zandt as he held court over the press conference on the stage, sporting his signature bandana and loud purple shirt. "There's nothing like it left in the world, [a place] where people have come not being famous and left being found by record companies."

i guess, then, that no band has been found by a record company since 1977. no wonder it's been so quiet around here the past few decades!

even Newcombe's annoying antics could be included in the slew of reasons to keep CBGB standing.

i suppose this has something to do with "irony," but what on earth does this sentence mean?

fact checking cuz (fcc), Friday, 5 August 2005 03:29 (fifteen years ago) link


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