CBGB Festival Update: Part One – live review

CBGB Festival Update
5th July 2012

Celebrating the famous CBGB venue in New York, this festival is a celebration of up n coming artists & new films As well as including industry conferences & discussions. Maren McGlashan was there for us & reports back on day 1 below.

Independence Day fireworks shot over the Hudson River on Wednesday, commemorating early American disobediance. Though the rebellious spirit was still there, a different type of celebration was taking place in lower Manhattan by Thursday morning. All along the Bowery, small clubs and larger venues alike welcomed underground gourmands for an array of music showcases, film premieres, panel discussions, and special screenings. Here, a blending of punk rock veterans, genre fans and the general public will take place through Sunday, July 8th, with each attendee being united by their collective nostalgia for the seminal East Village outfit, CBGB.

Thursday, July 5th, kicked off the festival, which began with film and music conferences. The panels and speeches took place throughout the day, and topics ranged from music publishing, legal advice for independent musicians and band management. Speakers included Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic (who delivered the keynote speech), Ramones manager Danny Fields, and EMI V.P. Michael Krumper.

I joined the scene at the Landmark Sunshine Cinemas around 7:00, where, just after arriving, an unmistakable Marky Ramone – trailed by a cameraman – walked by. By 7:15, I was seated for the premiere of Spanish filmmaker Danny Garcia’s new documentary, The Rise and Fall of the Clash. Open to festival pass holders, talent, press and the general public, the theatre was packed to capacity.

The film (see trailer below), which will be released via iTunes in the fall, hypothesized why the Clash fell apart at the height of their success. Citing personal conflict within the band, substance abuse, and manager Bernie Rhodes as key factors, The Rise and Fall of the Clash used interviews to analyze the band’s dissolution. Interviewees included Pearl Harbour (of Pearl Harbour and the Explosions), security personnel, Viv Albertine, poet Jock Scot, and later Clash members Pete Howard, Nick Shepard and Vince White. The screening was followed by a Q&A session with the film creators, Garcia, Glenn Aveni and David Mingay, as well as musician Rudy Fernandez, and Pearl Harbour, who was married to bassist Paul Simonon in the ”˜80s.

By 9:30, the screening had wrapped up. I walked to a nearby music showcase at the Living Room, located blocks away on Ludlow Street. When I arrived, California, an alternative folk-rock group, was taking the stage. California was a fun, country-tinged and up-tempo band, and highlights of their set included the song “Goodbye, Chelsea Hotel.” Adding to the spirit of the occasion, vocalist Gabriel Gordon shared his memories of playing at the original CBGB club.

All the while bassist Glen Matlock was sitting in the audience, socializing with fans before taking the stage. The small club became packed. Everyone seemed alive as Matlock announced that he’d be playing “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something bluesy.” Despite the minimalist set of just Matlock and his acoustic guitar, his performance was engaging. He urged the audience to “sing back-up,” and people happily complied. His set was an undisputed highlight of the evening.

Attempting to see as much music as possible, I left just in time to catch a bit of the Man on Earth set at a neighboring venue, Pianos. They were followed by the Clox, who wrapped up the Thursday night showcase at the club. Man on Earth and the Clox both hail from New York City, and play incredible experimental rock and alternative pop/rock, respectively. The show finished just around midnight, leaving me wondering how I could possibly have bounced around to more showcases – something I’ll have to think about for Friday’s line-up.

New bands discovered: The Clox, California, Man on Earth.

All words and Glen Matlock photo Maren McGlashan. Danny Garcia photo © Getty Images. You can read more from Maren here.

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