[February, 1995] Outcrowd at CBGB’s
Nothing to say that I can state plainly. Um…the Outcrowd CD is okay, love the T-shirt. I wonder when they’ll do CBGB’s again.
Friday should be cool, I’m seeing Dandelion at Coney Island High (a new place right near Venus Records). Hope they don’t cancel (bands like that have a tendency to do that). Don’t know if Anita will be going, hope so. The ever-generous Claudia is letting us stay over (again). I’m so glad I’m not going to the semi-formal, this is so much cooler.
When I was a teen, going to see obscure bands play small venues, part of me hoped that one day they’d become superstars and I’d be able to tell the story about how I saw them live back in the day.
This is not one of those stories.
The reason I had to be vague in the journal was because I lied to my parents about studying with Claudia when it was really about going to the legendary CBGB’s, a tiny graffiti-covered punk rock shrine with bathrooms that would give you nightmares.
I don’t remember why we chose that night to go. It might have been an all ages night or I might have won free tickets from a local radio station to see Outcrowd (they had one song played on college radio). It wasn’t really about hearing the band in question. Seeing a show, any show, at CBGB’s was something of a musical pilgrimage in itself—back in the day, bands like Ramones, Talking Heads, and Blondie played there. Later on, even Debbie Gibson made a surprise appearance during a Circle Jerks show (which my inner 10-year-old secretly hoped would mark a comeback for her; it did not).
The interior of CB’s was rather small and narrow (I don’t think more than a few hundred people were able to fit without violating capacity laws) and I heard enough horror stories about the bathrooms that I didn’t brave it, even for a peek at its squalor. I recall doing a lot of people-watching, though the crowd was more “normal” than I expected; still, there were a smattering of punks, maybe a rude boy or two (of the ska—not impolite—variety) that night, even though the band was more indie-grunge-pop.
To be honest, I don’t remember much of the music or band.
What I do remember, to this day, was the band throwing a CD out into the crowd towards the end of their set. I caught it. A little while they threw a T-shirt in my direction. I caught that, too. And even though I wasn’t a particular fan of Outcrowd, I was so excited and thought I was so lucky.
After the show, Anita told me about these two pretty girls standing behind me, who were talking earlier about how the band members promised to throw merchandise their way. When I caught the CD, Anita heard them say, “Damn!” Then when I caught the T-shirt, one of them said, “Again? I can’t believe she did it again!” I laughed.
Unfortunately, CBGB’s closed in 2006 and the space that once housed this iconic club went on to be repurposed. I think there’s a restaurant there today, and I refuse to ever set foot in it, or anything else that may appear in its place. To me, the spot will always be a place where music history was made, a place where the creative New York City spirit thrived, and the place where I caught swag from a go-nowhere band that was meant for groupies.
(It wouldn’t be the last time I saw band play CB’s—in fact, a few years later, it would be the setting for a (melo)dramatic story involving a very pretty boy… but that is another diary for another time…)