In the end, it’s probably apt that CBGB, like so many vintage rockers, will have an afterlife in Las Vegas. (Seriously: after the New York punk-rock institution closed for good last night, owner Hilly Kristal told The New York Daily News he was moving the whole operation to Vegas — lock, stock, and appalling bathroom stalls.) Also apt, of course, was the fact that Patti Smith played the final show last night. I’m sure she helped tear the house down (metaphorically), three decades after having helped build its reputation, and she noted gracefully that, more than a doomed landmark, ”CBGB’s is a state of mind,” one that will find a new incarnation at some other venue where kids gather to hear the music that speaks to them.
Much ink has been spilled in recent weeks and months about the 33-year-old club’s historical significance. I don’t have much to add to what I said last September when CBGB lost its lease, except to suggest that the club was always an exciting place to visit, even though it had long ceased to be what it once was, the incubator of musical revolutions. (EW’s Dalton Ross went to a show there last week and made a similar observation.) No doubt it meant a lot more to you if you were a fan back then; I enjoyed the Saturday Night Live skit last week that featured Smith and Lou Reed (played by Amy Poehler and Fred Armisen) standing across the street from CBGB and waxing nostalgic about the cheaper, grimier, more dangerous New York of the 1970s, in that annoying way that everyone who came to New York before you did moans about how much cooler the city used to be. Meanwhile, as The New York Times notes in its article about last night’s closing performance at CBGB, the rock-club scene it spawned in its neighborhood is all but dead now, with the action having trekked across the East River. Maybe some new musical movement is now slouching toward Brooklyn to be born, and maybe 30 years from now, we’ll be moaning the demise of that club scene after it’s become a 60-story parking garage for our flying cars.