In the wake of recent post on the early days of White Zombie, a reader named Greg wrote in with the following account…
I remember seeing White Zombie with the Lunachicks and a band called the Bloody Stools at a place called Downtown, probably summer of '89. I can't remember exactly where this Downtown place was but I picture it being on the same block as Acme. That's probably wrong but it was somewhere around there.
Anyway, it was a basement space and White Zombie seemed to be using an arena's worth of dry ice during God of Thunder. You could barely see them or anything else. It was really ridiculous but awesome at the same time.
Okay, here’s the thing. I, too, remember a basement-level venue called, I believe, Downtown, but it was one block to the south of Great Jones Street from where Greg remembers -- if, that is, we’re talking about the same place.
As fate had it, I never managed to darken the doors of the venue in question, but I’d had every intention of doing so, as my favorite band had been fleetingly slated to perform there. I can’t remember if it was before or after their stints at the Cat Club, Maxwell’s and CBGB in 1989, but my one true beloved Killing Joke were booked to play at this strange, subterranean venue on Bond Street, just off Broadway, and I dutifully marked the date on my calendar.
I can’t remember if I was able to procure tickets in advance, but I do remember swinging by the very unlikely looking entrance to the club. Sure enough, right above a metal stairwell leading underneath the building on that corner – whose address, tellingly enough, was and remains 666 Broadway --- COINCIDENCE!?!? --- there was a framed, sorta cheap-o looking bulletin board (in lieu of a proper marquee, I guess), emblazoned with the legend KILLING JOKE, followed by whatever date it had been set for. This being the era of Killing Joke’s fiery re-birth as a properly noisy and angry post-punk ensemble (following their abortive and attrition-plagued turn as an ersatz prog-pop project circa Outside the Gate), I was well excited.
But, as it turned out, the club actually closed before the gig in question could ever happen. I don’t remember how much notice I had, but I remember revisiting the place and finding the signage still there for quite some time -– still promising a Killing Joke show long after the once-scheduled event was slated to occur. I never got the full story.
More to the point, naming a live music venue ‘Downtown’ in New York City doesn’t do a lot in terms of helping people find out more information. It’s virtually Google-proof. I have thus far found no record of its existence -– no live reviews, no old gig flyers, nothin’ -- despite my vivid memories of the joint – and Greg’s testimony up top. There’s nary a mention of it on Killing Joke’s once-official gigography, but then -– the show didn’t happen, so why would there be?
Strangely enough, however, I did find corroboration for Greg’s story up top. A blog called Hugh Shows interviewed a band called The Martha’s Vineyard Ferries, and asked the individual band members to cite a bunch of personal details. In response to the question “Least favorite concert?” drummer Chris Brokaw writes…
White Zombie/The Lunachicks/The Bloody Stools at some horrible New York club,1989.
Not quite verification, but it’s better than nothing, I suppose. I did indeed find evidence of a band called The Bloody Stools, who were apparently from Philly and whose motto, evidently, was “we dig chicks that dig chicks.” There is also evidence in the form of live music clips from bands like Yuppicide of venue called the Bond Street Café. I have no recollection of that joint. Perhaps there’s a connection?
Today, meanwhile, the space that was the place I was referring to (where Killing Joke didn’t play) is still there, complete with metal stairwell. These days, the space is evidently a jiu-jitsu studio beneath a TD Bank.
Anyone else remember a NoHo live music venue called Downtown?
Map up top courtesy of Forgotten New York.