Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Culture: "CBGB" Festival New York - A Mixed Bag

"CBGBs" is one of New York`s legends. The rock venue was an incubator for Punk Rock and New Wave and a kind of home for groups like the Ramones and Blondie. They shut it down in 2006. 
Recently some clever business people decided to revive the brand "CBGB" and start a huge rock festival in New York City which was scheduled from June 5th through  June 8th. Their web site claimed that 300 bands would play at 40 venues (cbgb.com). My girlfriend and I bought festival passes for $79 each which should have given us access to all music events on first come, first serve basis. The result was a mixed bag.

On the starting day we choose to go to the "Bower Electric", a venue on the Bowery in South Manhattan, close to the place were the original "CBGBs" had been. Their schedule had around 25 bands playing on 2 stages. The groups we saw served an eclectic mixture from avant-garde to punk rock.

On the next day (Friday June 6th) we started at "Knitting Factory" in Brooklyn. Because of the tight competition between the events we left this gig early and took the subway back to Manhattan and went to "Webster Hall" in East Village to see "Cro-Mags" and "Sick Of It All", both are hard core metal bands. As we arrived there the venue was already shut down. The media reported that the "Cro-Mags" base player had stabbed 2 of his colleagues and had been taken into custody (boweryboogie.com). Disappointed, we went to the "Living Room" in Lower East Side, but there, nothing seemed to happen. Therefore we walked next door to Pianos where we finally watched a gig performed by the  "Everymen", a rough punk band.

On Saturday we returned to the "Bowery Electric" for a concert evening with 4 bands. We had been warned by the official "CBGB" web site, which announced that this concert was already sold out and pass owners would be dealt "first come, first served". We arrived therefore very early at the venue. At 8pm, the concert began according to schedule, and the place was still almost empty, but they told us we had to wait till the owners of the tickets arrived and then they would decide if they would us let in or not. I protested that this practice wasn´t acceptable and I coerced them to let us into the almost empty room. We were lucky because most of the crowd didn´t arrive until 10pm after the first 2 groups had already finished their performance.

I was impressed by the explosive performance of "The Romans". Their vocalist reminded me of the young Mick Jagger. He had the same androgynous attitude as many rock stars in the 60s and early 70s. But the leading act was "Generation D", who´s powerful punk brought the crowded audience to jump.

On Sunday, the last day of the "CBGB" festival, we tried to get into a concert at the Brooklyn Bowl, the only "CBGB" concert event that day. But this place turned out to be a fraudster. The bouncers at the door didn`t let us in.  Even that the place wasn´t sold out and they still sold tickets to newcomers. The door gorillas didn´t accept our passes on a "first come, first served" basis. They ignored the promise of the "CBGB" festival organizers and told us we had to pay the usual cover fee. This was a clear breach of the contract we agreed to when we bought the passes. It looks like the management of the "Brooklyn Bowl" dive has the policy to cash in double.  The band we tried to see was "Fishbone". They have a song called  "Gang Rape"(youtube.com)  which fits to this Brooklyn dive.

But anyway. We had heard strong rock music and learned many things. For instance that trusting promises of festival organizers is a tricky thing and we will think twice before buying such kind of festival passes again and we will certainly avoid a fraudster place called "Brooklyn Bowl".

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