Last Gig at CBGB

Dear Shaded Viewers,

Rafael of IQONS sent me this post from a friend of his about the last gig at CBGB, as I used to go there and this is a fond memory we decided to share it with you.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006 – 4:29 PM
> LAST GIG AT CBGB: an eyewitness account
> As one of the fortunate few to witness the last concert at CBGB
> this past Sunday (10/15/06), I believe it’s only fair to share an
> eyewitness account. Needless to say, the street outside was a mob
> scene, with reports that the entry line extended around the corner
> of Bowery all the way to 2nd Avenue.
> But first some brief context. Like many rock fans across the U.S.,
> I first learned of CBGB through the club’s connection to Blondie.
> When “Heart of Glass,” “One Way or Another” and “Hanging on the
> Telephone” broke big on radio in 1978, every article on Blondie
> mentioned CBGB. All the alternative rock magazines of the time –
> Trouser Press, Creem, New York Rocker – regularly covered bands
> breaking out of the CB’s scene. And then Talking Heads came along
> and immortalized the venue by singing “This ain’t the Mudd Club, or
> CBGB, I ain’t got time for that now.”
> As a teenage music fiend in south Texas, I yearned to go to CBGB,
> but I didn’t get to make a pilgrimage to NYC until 1987. At that
> time I took some photos of the club, but didn’t see a show. My
> first concert there happened three years later when I caught the
> second gig on the Scottish band Teenage Fan Club’s debut U.S.
> tour. July 15, 1990. I was ecstatic to be inside the place and
> the Fannies put on a bright, warm show. Since then, counting CBGB
> and its adjacent CB’s Gallery, I’ve attended about 40 gigs.
> Fast forward to 2005. The rumors are confirmed. CBGB is under siege
> from the landlord. I attend a slew of benefit concerts arranged to
> pay the club’s legal costs, but to no avail. The landlord wants the
> club out and the point is not negotiable.
> Which brings us to this final concert. Sunday, Oct. 15, 2006.
> I arrive at 7:00 PM and take my place in the ticket holders line
> with several friends. I thank my lucky stars that I was one of the
> precious few who actually was able to secure tickets on the web
> before they sold out in 9 minutes.
> The street in front of CBGB is a mob scene, with several stalled
> lines apparently feeding into the club. There’s a press event
> going on inside, and nobody gets in without credentials. It’s 51
> degrees on the Bowery, and most people are feeling the chill. But
> nobody gives up. Reporters and camera crews are everywhere
> interviewing fans – you can’t move two feet without bumping into a
> tv, print or radio journalist, or a podcaster. Everybody feels the
> gravity of the night. At 9:00 we ever so slooowly begin to filter
> into the club. The door security is TIGHT, and initially only
> ticket holders and guest list folks make it in. I find out later
> from one girl inside who didn’t have an advance ticket, that she
> was actually able to buy a last-minute ticket at the door after
> waiting in line for 9 HOURS.
> To my surprise, the crowd inside is sparse upon entry. Instead of
> punk chestnuts by CBGB legends, the DJ is spinning ’60s garage
> classics like the Sonics’ “Strychnine” and the Brogues’ “I Ain’t No
> Miracle Worker.” Perhaps NUGGETS mastermind Lenny Kaye had some
> input on the pre-show song selection. After securing a spot about
> eight feet from the left of the stage, my friends and I begin
> talking to strangers who had also made it in, sharing punk war
> stories and bemoaning the demise of the club. I realize that was
> always one of the cool things about going to CBGB – you always had
> a 90% guarantee that if you started talking with the person next to
> you, you likely shared a lot of commonality.
> By 10:00, the club is packed to the rafters and the Patti Smith
> Group arrives on stage for what will become a marathon 3-hours-plus
> set. On the street everyone had been buzzing about which special
> guests would be playing in addition to Patti, but outside of guest
> spots by Television guitarist Richard Lloyd and the Red Hot Chili
> Peppers’ bassist Flea, there are no special guests. Which turns
> out to be just fine.
> I don’t think Patti or her band would mind my saying that the show
> started off shaky. There were several false starts, and Patti
> cussed a bit that she wasn’t able to quickly nail the material. A
> version of the Blondie hit “The Tide Is High” left most of the
> crowd scratching their heads, and a discarded attempt at “The
> Hunter Gets Captured by the Game” didn’t improve matters. The band
> was back on track by “We Three” from EASTER, and a new song about
> the Guantanamo Bay prison camp hit its mark. Richard Lloyd joined
> the band for “Marquee Moon” and came back later for a brief
> excursion into “Little Johnny Jewel” before launching into a
> searing “Rock N Roll Nigger.” Flea played bass on most of the
> HORSES material, and nearly everything off that album surfaced
> during the set. There were surprises galore. It was worth the
> admission alone to see Patti spit and growl over a lyric sheet for
> “Sonic Reducer,” and chant “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!” during “Blitzkrieg
> Bop.” Twice Patti excused herself from the stage to use CB’s
> infamous toilets, and her band used the time wisely by turning up
> the volume for the Yardbirds’ “For Your Love” and a grin-inducing
> Ramones medley of “Beat on the Brat,” “Do You Remember Rock N Roll
> Radio?” and “Sheena is a Punk Rocker.” Lenny revised the lyrics
> from “It’s the end of the century” to “It’s the end of CBGB.”
> Throughout the evening, Patti totally avoided the whole rock star
> trip, and she was just one of us – sharing stories, grinning a
> lot, and also getting caught up in all the emotion. She told a
> wonderful story that involved Tom Verlaine, UFOs and Michael
> Stipe. She told us about the time when everyone at CB’s healed
> Hilly’s dog after a car accident through sheer force of spiritual
> good will. She railed against Bush, Guantanamo Bay, the rape of
> the environment, and urged us to keep fighting the good fight. She
> pointed out that the club was around for 33 years, the same
> lifespan as Jesus. She expressed that even though CB’s was
> closing, we all had to believe that the spirit of CBGB could
> manifest itself anywhere. As long as there is a performance space,
> and people with enthusiasm for rock ‘n’ roll, CBGB could live on
> anywhere on the planet.
> As the night neared its close, Patti read a roll call of CBGB
> alumni who have passed on since the club opened in December ’73.
> Tears were shed, but also a loud cheer was heard for each name.
> I’m sure I’ll miss a few, but the names I remember were Bryan
> Gregory, Robert Quine, Lance Loud, Lester Bangs, Jerry Nolan, Terry
> Ork, Helen Wheels, Richard Sohl, Joe Strummer, Stiv Bators, Johnny
> Thunders, and Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee. When an audience member
> called out “You forgot Fred,” referring to Patti’s deceased husband
> Fred “Sonic” Smith, Patti replied along the lines of he’s not
> forgotten, he’s in there.
> Setlist (as close as I can remember):
> Set I:
> Piss Factory
> The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game
> The Tide is High / Pale Blue Eyes
> Blitzkrieg Bop
> Marquee Moon
> We Three
> Distant Fingers
> New Song about Guantanamo
> Ghost Dance
> Birdland
> Set II:
> Sonic Reducer
> Redondo Beach
> Free Money
> Pissing in a River
> Gimme Shelter
> Space Monkey
> Beat on the Brat/Rock and Roll Radio/Sheena is a Punk Rocker
> Ain’t it Strange
> So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star
> Babelogue/Rock N Roll Nigger/Little Johnny Jewel
> For Your Love
> My Generation
> E) Land: Horses/Land Of A Thousand Dances/La Mer(de)
> Gloria
> Elegie
> SPOTTED IN THE CROWD: Hilly Kristal, Tina Weymouth, Jim Carroll,
> Steven Van Zandt, Bob Gruen, John Holmstrom, Jesse Malin, Bobby
> Schayer, Denise Mercedes, Elijah Wood, Bill Flanagan, Tim Holmes,
> Jason Consoli, Eric Davidson, Robert Vickers, Janie Heath, Jeremy
> Tepper, Michael Azerrad, Jon Pareles, John Ingrassia, Jim Bessman,
> and likely many more I didn’t catch.
> PHOTO GALLERY: To see my photos of Patti and this historic event,
> visit this link:
> 72157594332061511/
> Thanks to everyone involved in tonight’s truly memorable sendoff
> for this legendary club, especially Patti Smith and her fantastic
> band – Lenny Kaye, Jay Dee Daugherty, and Tony Shanahan. Plus
> special guests Richard Lloyd and Flea. Most of all, thanks to
> Hilly Kristal and all those who have served at the club over the
> past 33 years.
> POSTSCRIPT: As of this morning, Tuesday, I hear that the CBGB
> awning has already been taken down from 315 Bowery …

Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.