I got Hardcore: Life of My Own as a gift over the holidays. Reading about the Lower East Side in the 80s is making me nostalgic for the two years that I spent down there in the mid 90s. Things had already started to clean up when I arrived but it was still a little sketchy. It was nowhere near as bad as in the 80s but it wasn’t the over-priced DisneyLand that most of Manhattan has become now.
In Googling around, I found a nice recap of the ghosts of NYC music venues on Buzzfeed. More for my own memory than anything else, but here’s what I remember about some of these places.
- CBGB – I’m pretty sure it was still open when I lived there but there wasn’t really much happening at that point. I think the hardcore matinees had moved farther south. I remember going to at least one show at some other place down in Tribeca, maybe?
- Electric Circus / Coney Island High – The former was clearly closed before I got there, but CIH was going strong. Again, I almost went to several shows there but actually never did. I walked that block all the time though and it was always very punk rock. There was at least one record store and then other stores selling leather and bondage stuff. That street was always busy on the weekends, especially Friday and Saturday night. I think there was a bar in that same grouping on the north side of the street and I remember going there a few times
- Knitting Factory – I remember going to one show there. I dragged a couple of friends to an experimental jazz show with Charles Gayle. They thought I was from another planet for taking them to that show. Gayle was on one of the Rollins Band albums which is how I’d heard of him.
- Limelight – The club kid thing was still going strong when I lived there. I thought about going in there once or twice since I used to walk past it all the time, but I was too scared of what I’d find in there. I wasn’t into the music or the drug scene.
- Palladium – This place was pretty much dead when I lived in NYC, but still did host a few shows. I also used to walk past there fairly frequently. I knew it had hosted the early Club MTV episodes with Downtown Julie Brown (who you can hear on Sirius XM along with pretty much anyone else who was a VJ in the 80s).
- Ritz – I went to a few shows at Webster Hall which is still in Ritz’s former location. I think they just hosted a Metallica fan club show there last year. It’s a nice mid to small-sized venue I worked with a girl who I also briefly dated whose college roommate lived across the street. I went to an after party for the premiere of Basketball Diaries here and watched Leonardo DiCaprio get really excited and run onto the dance floor for either NIN’s “Closer” or Beck’s “Loser”. I can’t remember which. It might’ve been both. I also passed that place on my way home quite a bit.
- Academy – Searching for this place is actually what landed me on the Buzzfeed article. I remember seeing a show with the Beastie Boys that had Tibetan monks and Luscious Jackson as the openers. According to this stub on a Beastie Boys site, it was May 27th, 1994. I got in for free because the singer from the band that I was in at the time had also been a roadie for Luscious Jackson. I think I also saw a Fishbone show here. It was interesting because it’s pretty much right in Times Square.
- Brownies – I’m pretty sure I saw Tad at Brownies along with a few other shows. It was getting some pretty good bands even in the mid-90s. I think Starfish from here in Austin played there right after I left and moved back to Austin.
Two more that aren’t on this list that I recall fondly:
- Roseland – This historic ballroom was announced to be closing around the time the Buzzfeed post was made so it’s not surprising it’s not on the list. Looking at Google StreetView from this year, it’s now a hole in the ground. It’s just a block south of the Ed Sullivan Theater, famous for hosting the Late Show with David Letterman and now Stephen Colbert (I also went to an early Letterman taping there with Chris K. from graduate school). I saw an amazing show with Helmet there on the Betty tour. I also saw Faith No More on their tour supporting King for a Day.
- Tramps – This was a place near Flatiron District if I recall correctly. I saw Sebadoh and Reverend Horton Heat here among a few others. I remember seeing Scott Ian from Anthrax in the audience at the Rev. show.
This guy also did a similar list to Buzzfeed’s and mentions Tramps along with a few that didn’t include my additions or Buzzfeed’s.
I probably should do one for Austin in the late 80s / early 90s.