EV Grieve put up a notice this morning that the long-standing sidewalk shed on the corner of East 13th Street and 4th Avenue has finally come down, ushering in a new stage of development for yet another needlessly huge and inevitably insufferable hotel that will assuredly blight the neighborhood like a boil-slathered tumor. In my day (i.e my ever-distant youth), this corner had special resonance for me because it was the home of the Cat Club, a smokey heavy metal joint that served as the first venue I was ever lucky enough to witness my favorites, Killing Joke, perform in the late summer of 1989 (see flyer at the bottom of this post). Martin Atkins was serving on drums, and in the crowd were luminaries like Johnny Feedback of local proto-hardcore legends Kraut, Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators and Joey Ramone. Handsome Dick and Joey were actually seated in a booth directly behind my friend Rob and I. I have a bootleg recording of the show. As far as I'm concerned, this event made 76 East 13th Street it hallowed ground. I wasn't able to prize any shots of the interior of The Cat Club, but I did manage to find the lovely photo above, courtesy of this fabulous Flickr page.
I've told the tale of this place before (notably on this post from back in 2005). Here's what I had to say at the time....
(76 East 13th Street) - To my knowledge, first it was the Cat Club, specializing in Heavy Metal circa the dawn of Grunge. Then it became the more versatile Grand. Then it gets confusing. From The Grand, it became System. After System it became the Key Club. After the Key Club, it became Spa. After Spa, it became Plaid. In any case, it hasn't been anything worth going to since it was the Grand. As the Grand, it was a nice little venue wherein I was fortunate enough to see bands like the Primitives, Redd Kross, Ethyl Meatplow, Motherhead Bug, Big Country, Cop Shoot Cop and Killing Joke (the latter when it was still called The Cat Club). But, as with seemingly every other great rock club in this city, they changed into a dance club. As Plaid, I believe they still had the odd live performance (it was the spot where Courtney Love supposedly brained a heckler with a mic stand a couple of years back). I believe it has since closed its doors and is currently inactive now.
Those days are all long over now. The corner lay rotting and dormant for quite a while until someone bought the space and construction started on the hotel. Doubtlessly, the address is shortly transform in to a hotbed of vulgar, nouveau riche exclusivity. But once upon a time, it was a place that rocked.