Max’s Vs CBGB: Two Views Of New York’s ’70s Rock Scene

Exhibit A: Inside Max’s Kansas City, 1970

Film shot inside NYC late-night Mecca Max’s Kansas City during its late-’60s/early-’70s heyday is notoriously hard to find, so this footage of Andy Warhol’s Factory Superstars (Candy Darling, Gerard Malanga and a marauding Brigid Berlin among them) hanging in Max’s fabled back room is a real rarity. Described by the narrator as “an unofficial casting agency and public playground” where “individuals suddenly flare up”, Max’s was the Warhol crowd’s go-to gathering place, situated as it was just a few blocks from The Factory. With its distinctive red upholstery, it became the epicentre for the glam rock scene, playing host to The Velvet Underground, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Television, Talking Heads and New York Dolls (to name but a few).

Patti Smith, who can be seen at 1min25s soaking up the atmosphere with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, was a regular at the club and would go on to perform there in the mid-’70s alongside the rest of the NYC punk crowd.


View more from Max’s inner sanctum here and here.

Exhibit B: CBGB Movie Trailer, 2013

Another downtown Manhattan music landmark was CBGB. A new movie charting the rise and rise of the iconic venue – starring Alan Rickman as hirsute club maestro Hilly Kristal and Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins as Iggy Pop – is set for release later this year.

We’re told that artefacts from the original premises had been used in the making of this movie (including the urinals and sections of the bar), so quite why this first trailer presents a sanitised, squeaky-clean, frat-world version of one of the most notoriously grimy venues on the planet remains to be seen. Particularly when amazing footage such as this and this is available to reference on YouTube, where regulars describe the scene as “500 sweating bodies ankle deep in beer, the smell of piss, screaming amplifiers” and “Dark, sweat-soaked and smoky”. The music was new and weird and the performances were scorched by the brashly individual attitudes and DIY ethics of outcast street kids and new wave mavericks who used CBGB as a place to vent everything. After all, this was a shitty part of New York.

And so to the trailer. Cue a shot of a cockroach, Alan Rickman’s wig and Rupert Grint’s Cheetah Chrome enjoying a beer…