David Byrne - vocals, guitar; Chris Frantz - drums; Jerry Harrison - guitar, keyboards; Tina Weymouth - bass
CBGB's, that venerated, grimy hole-in-the-wall that represents a rite of passage for leather and denim clad poseurs, closed its doors for good in 2006, pushing the Bowery drunks and gormandizers out into the stinking night to seek uplifting elsewhere (or to buy a t-shirt in St. Mark's Place). Though the opportunity to be drenched in the sweat of punk's pin-ups of tomorrow has passed, a brief glimpse of what made the place famous can be heard in the unnerving vocals of David Byrne and the icy, syncopated rhythms of the Talking Heads.
Of the bands associated with the original NYC punk scene of the mid to late '70s, the Talking Heads are probably the least imitated and, perhaps for that reason, still the freshest sounding of the era. With the exception of maybe Television, no other band combined the DIY ethos with such a commitment to musical experimentation; but whereas Television's songs were often little more than a platform for Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd's lengthy jazz-guitar explorations, the Talking Heads' songs were ends unto themselves, yielding strange and sometimes uncomfortable soundscapes that commented on the banality of modern society with a sly wink - and all while remaining totally danceable. Byrne and co. further distanced themselves from their contemporaries by collaborating with Brian Eno (a suspicious character known to consort with pretentious rock royalty - the enemy!) and eventually embracing the music video medium with great success.
This appearance at the "House that Hilly Built" captures the Talking Heads before their debut record had even been released. The band's characteristic sound is already fully evident as they dig into some classic material including their artsy interpretation of Al Green's "Take Me to the River" and the career-defining "Psycho Killer."
Though the club is gone, it's raison d'être remains. While anxiously awaiting "CBGB's - The Ride" to open at Six Flags theme parks across the country, you can still listen back to all the amazing music that reinvigorated rock 'n' roll right as the referee was giving it a standing eight-count (and who else was gonna save rock? Foghat?). Here's a picture of an ordinary place that had the good fortune of hosting some extraordinary people.