Target apologise for CBGB’s tribute after backlash

The store was forced to apologise after a tribute to the legendary New York venue backfired

Target have apologised for a tribute they carried out to CBGB, the New York rock club which played host to many seminal bands during its history.

Last Saturday (July 21), Target opened a new store in NYC’s East Village with a facade that was similar in style to that of CBGB’s famous exterior.

Bands including Blondie and The Ramones played at the club at the height of their fame; the venue was seen as pivotal in the punk movement of the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Instead of “CBGB”, the store used “TRGT” and “BANDS” in bold lettering on a temporary facade similar to the CBGB’s original, together with a display with referenced the nightclub and included TRGT branded foam hands, t-shirts and posters.

The display quickly prompted a backlash. The New York Times posted interviews with musicians who reacted negatively to the tribute including Chris Stamey and Willie Nile, both of whom performed at the club before its closure in 2006.

Stamey, who played CBGB’s around 25 times both with his band, The dB’s, and as a sidekick to Alex Chilton and Richard Lloyd, was unimpressed with the tribute.

“I think it’s a pity that a teenager sees the Target store and thinks it’s all a cartoon,” he said of the store front.

Speaking about the legendary venue, Stamey said “it had the stink of the real,” adding that “everybody was trying to find something new at that time. Nobody is trying to find something new at Target.”

Nile – a regular performer at the club in 70’s and 80’s – said he “mourn[s] the loss of character and style” in the East Village, referring to the areas gentrification. He also described the tribute as “a drag.”

On social, media, many reacted with anger, pointing out that it was the commercialisation of the area that forced CBGB to close originally when the owners of the building refused to renew CBGB’s lease.

Jeremiah Moss, the author of Vanishing New York – a book about the city’s gentrification – described it as “the most deplorable commodification of local neighbourhood culture I’ve ever witnessed” in a blog post.

Responding to the backlash, Target issued an apology. They said: “We often host a on-day celebration that shows the neighbourhood how excited we are to be part of their community.”

“We sincerely apologise if some event goers felt it was not the best way to capture the spirit of the neighbourhood.”

“We always appreciate guest feedback and will take it into consideration as we plan for future opening events.”

After 33 years, CBGB closed it doors in 2006 when its lease was not renewed; rock star and poet Patti Smith was the final performer at the historic venue.