CBGB’s Last Epic Show – The end of an era

September 9, 2005

© Big Wheel Media

Friday morning came around and it was time for the bands and their respective crew to fly out to New York. There was no set time or set flight that everyone took together, so not everyone got into New York at the same time. Though we cannot speak for everyone else, we had a great flight. No terrorists = no problems!

While the East and West coasts are two completely different scenes, CBGB is a club that transcends scenes. This small, hole in the wall has been home to some of the best punk bands ever to have played. That history is enough incentive for the Circle Jerks, Adolescents, D.I., Channel 3, and 45 Grave to fly out to New York to do their part to help save this landmark. CBGB's put all the bands up at a four star hotel (too nice for Punks) in Manhattan. There were bags of all kinds of party liquids being brought in threw the lobby. The people at the hotel had their suspicions, but nothing would get out of least not in the lobby...everyone waited til they got upstairs.

CBGB, which stands at 315 Bowery in New York, has after 30 years at the same location, lost its lease and will likely close its doors forever in the weeks to come. However, CBGB has decided not to go down without a fight. As a last ditch effort to raise enough money for their rent, which was doubled from $20,000, the club has rallied for help by calling on bands from all over the United States to play their benefit concert series entitled simply “Save CBGB”.

The walls were covered in graffiti, posters and layers upon layers of stickers covering every square inch of the walls. The black ceiling was peeling from years of moisture and lack of maintenance. Even the building's original hardwood floors were still visible though heavily patched with pieces of sheet metal that were lifting with jagged edges. Though it’s easy for us to become engrossed in the past, we were determined not to let this be a somber event. Sure the show was for a cause, but that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t have a good time too.

45 Grave  

Before we knew it doors were open and people began filing in. Electric Frankenstein, a well known east coast band was the first band up of the night. These guys were pretty awesome, and have been around for a long time. The club had already begun to fill up by the time they went on. Just about everyone had a drink in their hand and were right in front of the stage watching these guys play throughout their whole set.

45 Grave was among one of the bands that played on this lineup. This group of ghouls really set the stage with songs like “Riboflavin”, “Surf Bat” and “Evil”. Dinah Cancer is still a huge crowd favorite and the fans in New York let her know that, singing along to every song and arms flailing everywhere. 45 Grave has never been better and the addition of Rikk Agnew's guitar playing really brings it all together.

Throughout the entire night there was plenty of socializing between bands, and the crowd. Since there was no back stage the bands and the crowd were all hanging out and talking together. That in itself was a cool aspect of CBGB’s, to have band members and bar patrons mixed in together makes each show very intimate.

Channel 3  

The next band that went on was Channel 3. These guys are definitely no strangers to CBGB, as they had said that they have probably played there more than any other club anywhere else. They recalled a few memories that they had of the club and asked the crowd who had been there when they had played there for the first time back in 1982, a few people raised their hands to their amazement.

The guys opened their set up with “I Didn’t Know”, as there would be plenty of time for reminiscing after the show. All the classics were played including “Catholic Boy”, “I’ve got a Gun”, “Manzanar”, “You Lie”, and “I Wanna Know Why”. Even the song “You Make Me Feel Cheap” was played featuring Maria Montoya; donning an official Channel 3 straight jacket, who did the original backup vocals.


Next up was D.I. who was thoroughly stoked to be at CBGB and part of this historic lineup. They jumped right into their set playing tunes such as “OC Life” and “Falling Out”. The crowd really began to explode into a fury of action to the sound of these classic tunes.

Throughout the set Casey had plenty to say about various things that are going on in America. Terrorism, pollution and government corruption were just some of the points that Casey touched on.

The set also included some new D.I. songs that we had never heard before and of course some old favorites, “Johnny’s Got A Problem”, “Imminent War”, and “Richard Hung Himself”. People were now thoroughly warmed up for The Adolescents.

Between the two sets we decided to go outside for a little fresh air and a smoke. While out there we talked to this guy that we met earlier who had an awesome mad scientist Kevin Staab tattoo. This was perhaps one of the coolest tats that we had seen all weekend, so we just had to take a photo of it for Kevin Staab to see.

The Adolescents  

As we walked through the doors we could hear that the first song being played was “Monsanto Hayride”, which is off the Adolescents new album entitled “OC Confidential”. The Adolescents played a great mix of songs off the classic blue album, Brats in Battalions, and OC Confidential.

Among some of the other songs that were played were “I Love You”, “Amoeba”, and of course the classic “Kids of the Black Hole” which always drives the crowd mad with energy causing a pit that looks like a level 4 hurricane.

There was a great deal of slamming going on in the pit, people were getting tossed around like rag dolls, and falling straight to the floor. During the song “OC Confidential”, Casey from D.I. did a stage dive right into the crowd and was surfed around for a while till he was dropped to the floor landing on a beer bottle and smashing it to pieces. He did not get too jacked and was actually pretty stoked on himself to have the chance to stage dive and slam dance to a band once played in.

Circle Jerks  

Minutes later the Circle Jerks were ready to take the stage. By this time the small venue was packed to the brim with people who were all crowded against the stage. Keith Morris took to the stage and the crowd began to cheer as he tore into the first song of the set, “Letter Bomb”.

The Circle Jerks played a full set, which included no less than 31 songs comprised mostly of Circle Jerks and Black Flag songs. Though we can’t remember the whole list of 31 songs, there are a few that stood out. “Stars and Stripes”, “All Wound Up”, “Back Against the Wall”, “Beverly Hills” and “I just want some Skank” just to name a few. The guys even threw in the Weirdos song “Solitary Confinement”.

Throughout the set there were people stage diving, but there was one guy in particular who caught our attention because of the tennis ball size welts on his forehead and the back of his head. The guy was enjoying life to the max, consuming drinks as fast as the was the music.

During “Destroy You” Keith did a spoken word segment where he talked about politics and various other issues that he felt were important. This was a really cool idea, but some people didn’t appreciate the five minute lecture and started jeering at him.

Keith didn’t give a shit, because he had a point to make and he was damned if he was gonna let anyone tell him otherwise. The Circle Jerks closed their set leaving the crowd hungry for more. Thirty one songs were not enough for the crowd!

The show ended and I don’t think there was a person who left dissatisfied with the show. The bands and crowd alike all gathered outside in from of CBGB. There were a few photos snapped, some talking and plotting for the next day. All in all the weekend was filled with lots of fun and debauchery that only the big apple can bring out in people.