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Nightclubbing | The Suburbs, 1980

Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong continue sorting through their archives of punk-era concert footage as it’s digitized for the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library.

suburbs1 Photo courtesy Chan Poling Chan Poling

New York and London were the first cities to feel the heartbeat of punk, then bands started springing up in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Like a contagion, the new music spread and mutated from basement to garage, from Athens, Ga., to Santa Cruz.

It was thrilling for New Yorkers to hear about these regional bands and by 1980, we were finally seeing these alternative bands tour. The Suburbs arrived in New York from Minneapolis that summer. They brought the heartland to us with an urgent bounce, playing a brand of danceable new wave that was as funky and melodious as it was infectious. This video clip of their song, “Music For Boys,” captures them at Danceteria when they were at their muscular, modern rock best.

Chan Poling and Beej Chaney were the two front men, on keyboards and lead vocals, respectively. Friends since high school, they went out to Los Angeles in 1974 to attend Cal Arts. Chan played in a local punk band, The Technocats. The exposure to so many musicians and artists inspired him, and he began writing music — he just wasn’t sure for whom or what.

Returning home to Minneapolis in 1977, he found himself listening to a band, Suicide Commandos, formed by his childhood friend, Chris Osgood. “They were the only band in town that played the kind of music that was in my head,” Poling recalls, “I needed people to play with like that.”

viewerBayard Michael The Suburbs

Chris Osgood introduced him to Michael Halliday and Bruce Allen, who along with Beej and drummer Hugo Klaers, became The Suburbs. They never looked back. The band lived and rehearsed in a warehouse basement that fortuitously had an abandoned bar attached to it.

They couldn’t get gigs because there were no clubs that booked bands with original music. So they began throwing their own parties with a keg or two and a few bucks admission at the door. The Suburbs performed, along with other locals like The Replacements, until the success of their parties caught the eye of a local promoter, who ran a place called Jay’s Longhorn bar. One visit to their basement, and he changed his booking policy from jazz to punk, hiring The Suburbs for the next night. The Longhorn became the CBGBs of Minneapolis. Read more…

Nightclubbing | A Night at CBGBs

The Local is pleased to launch a regular column in which Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong sift through their voluminous archive of punk-era concert footage as it becomes part of the Downtown Collection at N.Y.U.’s Fales Library. They’ll share their favorite stories and clips along the way.

nightclubbingCourtesy Nightclubbing The Nightclubbing archive.

Pat: On a hot sticky night in July, 1975, I began videotaping punk bands at CBGBs. It was during the CBGB Rock Festival of Unrecorded Bands, with 40 groups that formed the core of the nascent music scene downtown. I was part of Metropolis Video, a video collective of eight, most of whom worked at MCTV’s public access department. That first night, we shot Blondie (still doing some covers, like the Velvets, Femme Fatale), the Talking Heads on their third or fourth gig out of RISD, and the Heartbreakers, a downtown super group with Richard Hell, who had just left Television, and Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan of the Dolls. It was their first Manhattan date. It was exciting and we shot now and then for about a year but the center would not hold and the collective dissolved.

cbgb 1

Luckily, I met Emily Armstrong and after a night seeing Patti Smith at CBs, she agreed to work with me and a new partnership was formed. Our first band was the Dead Boys in 1977 and we continued for the next four years, often at CBs but also at other clubs like Max’s, Hurrah’s, Mudd Club, and Danceteria.

Emily: Now 32 years later, N.Y.U.’s Fales Library is making everything new again. The Downtown Collection is preserving and restoring the Nightclubbing archive of nearly 100 musical performances, 20-plus interviews, video art projects and more. It will be available for scholars (yes!) to rifle through and enjoy. I hope they do – I know I did. Read more…

Revisiting the No Wave Scene At The BMW Guggenheim Lab On Sunday

Two of the most comprehensive documentarians of the late-1970s East Village punk scene will give a screening of their rare no wave footage at the BMW Guggeinheim Lab on Sunday.

Bush Tetras at CBGB, 1980.

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