Although the infamous club eternally shut its doors in 2006, the spirit of punk rock got a revival a few weekends ago with the CBGB Music Festival. CBGB & OMFUG (Country, Bluegrass, Blues, & Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers), owned by Hilly Kristal, was a legend 33 years running, and is regarded by many as the “The nerve center of everything that mattered in music in the past 40 years”. It earned the honor of being considered the birthplace of American Punk and New Wave music – everyone held court on its stage, from Patti Smith, The Ramones, and The Talking Heads, to the emerging and obscure. Anyone was welcome, as long as you played your own original music.
The CBGB Music Festival gave New Yorkers an even dose of nostalgia and new through offerings of music and film showcases + conferences, in addition to a spirits festival. If you couldn’t make the fun, below is a recap of some of the festival’s most note-worthy and notorious moments, along with a indie + folk Spotify mix here featuring a combination of favorites and new faces that graced the weekend line-up.
13 Top Festival Moments
1. Krist Novoselic talked about his penchant for playing the accordion, the memory of Kurt Cobain, anarchy, and politics.
2. Then he got called out for the fact Nirvana never actually played at CBGB. (The club’s booker was in the crowd and said their manager wouldn’t come without the promise of an extra $300.)
3. Around 300 legends + emerging bands played 40 venues.
4. Some of the Cro-Mags got in a knife fight before their show…with each other.
5. The universal struggles of artists were acknowledged with “Impossible Things on a Shoe String Budget”.
6. Speakers including CBGB’s former bartender and the manager of the Ramones got candid during, “CBGB – Tales From the Club”.
7. A screening of “Re:Generation Music Project” gave viewers a chance to see what happens when you take five electronic DJs and producers and get them out of their comfort zones. (Think collaborations such as Skrillex + The Doors and Pretty Lights + LeAnn Rimes)
8. Many a thirst was quenched at the Spirits Festival.
9. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah played their last show with all original members, with two now parting ways.
10. Artists and industry execs in the crowd had polarizing discussions with the panels regarding the pitfalls and advances of Spotify. (Summary: artists get screwed monetarily, but do garner exposure.)
11. Tommy Ramone was joined with Claudia Tienan and graced the crowd with an acoustic set.
12. Bob Gruen himself shared his insight before the premiere screening of “Rock ‘N’ Roll Exposed: The Photography of Bob Gruen”.
13. Free shows were held for six hours straight at Times Square on Saturday.