The CBGB Festival Takes Over NYC; Who Are the ‘Must-See’ Acts?
The heart of NYC’s underground used to have an address—315 Bowery at Bleecker Street. It stood alone, without the fashion boutiques and high-class restaurants that now bombard the area. As the pressure cooker of the 1970s percolated, the counter-culture flocked to an unassuming storefront, a club for Country, BlueGrass, and Blues, but a step through the door revealed something much different: band stickers lined every inch of the walls and cigarette smoke billowed outwards, as punk rock was born onstage. Years later, the venues legacy lives on, as the CBGB Festival spans across NYC.
New York’s underground was gritty, raw, and angry at the world; they watched bands like The Ramones, Misfits, Talking Heads, and Blondie tear through sets on a tiny stage. Little did they know, the world would soon be watching with them. Fast-forward to 2013—CBGB is now a household name, but the venue itself was transformed into a glamorous John Varvatos fashion outlet (it was hard not to shudder writing that).
While the original CBGB music club now only lives in rock music lore, the spirit of the movement can still be seen, as hundreds of artists descend on the city to perform in celebration of the venue’s 40th anniversary. In its second (and largest) year, the festival bears many similarities to the annual CMJ Music Marathon, in which shows are curated across over 100 venues throughout New York City. It begins tonight (Oct. 9th), and extends all weekend through the 13th.
The 300 bands and performers set to play are certainly all difficult to keep track of, but since all of us at Rukkus have no social lives outside of music, we’re happy to make it a little easier on you. Below is a list of the “must-see” events happening at CBGB.
1. The Free Multi-Stage Festival in Times Square
If that headline alone doesn’t send shivers of excitement down your spine, you might need to check your pulse. On Saturday, October 12th, the CBGB festival will culminate with an all-day event spanning 9 city blocks. The 5 stages will feature over two dozen bands, most notably The Wallflowers and Divine Fits, who will play during the 11:00am-2:00pm time slot. Between 4:00-7:00pm, Grizzly Bear and My Morning Jacket will perform, and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem will play a DJ set. Keep in mind, this is all free.
2. CBGB Fest and Irving Plaza Present…
On October 10th and 11th at Irving Plaza, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and Atlas Genius will perform. After releasing a new EP this year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. continue to build on their excellent 2011 album, It’s a Corporate World. Atlas Genius are a perfect opener, as they create a similar low-key electronic sound. These back-to-back shows are sure to be one of the most memorable of many this weekend.
3. The Bowery Electric ‘Carry On Band’ Series
Tomorrow at 7:00pm, the Bowery Electric will welcome a slew of counter-culture icons like Lydia Lunch, Cheetah Chrome, Glen Matlock, and Lenny Kaye. It’s a lineup of performers that were crucial to the legacy that CBGB stands for, and it’s sure to give anyone who attends a glimpse into the bygone era of the gritty New York underground.
4. The Best Rock Film and Documentary Screenings
Want something a little more relaxed? CBGB is curating the screenings of a ton of famous rock documentaries across downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. Many of the screenings will be followed by Q&A sessions with people associated with the films.
If you’re in NYC this weekend, you can almost be sure you’ll stumble in somewhere where a CBGB event is held. It’s an idea that goes back to the legacy of the venue—wherever there’s meaningful music being played, people will congregate and listen; it’s the very reason a small dive-bar in the Bowery became the center of a world-wide movement.
Article by Nicolas White