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Boston Gone: The sites of rock clubs and music venues no longer with us

 

Rock clubs come, rock clubs go. Same for music venues, nightclubs, bars, and other important cultural hotspots. But it's always been fascinating to us that so many notable (and in some cases, historic) concerts, parties, and events have happened across the city in places that no longer exist. And not only do these joints no longer exist, but what has replaced them -- condos, new businesses, university buildings -- have eradicated any trace of what went down. From General Electric building over the site of The Channel in Fort Point to the inconspicuous Allston location of early-'80s post-punk comet Underground, so much of Boston's musical history is hiding in plain site.

We pass these places every day.

So, what's sitting on these properties now? Well, it's often not pleasant. Vanyaland editor Michael Marotta and photographer John Hutchings spent a day tracing Boston's long-gone clubs, and photo-documenting what exists in these spaces today. We're a bit fascinated by the fact that New Order played what's now a BU dorm laundry room, The Doors played some weird Brighton apartment complex, and Led Zeppelin played what's now essentially a 7-11.

It should be noted, also, that we're not really lamenting here, just pointing out that interesting stuff has happened in places you wouldn't think to look because of natural change. It's cool to us that these old legacy bands played in places that we pass every day and don't think twice about. This is in no way a "better in the old days" post; we're just pointing out that musical magic took places in many unmarked graves around the city.

Words below are by Marotta, and all images by Hutchings. Research and anecdotes were pulled from The Music Museum of New England, Dirty Old Boston, The David Bieber Archives, and a variety of other online sources, linked when appropriate.

Also -- if we got anything wrong, in location, history, or context, please kindly let us know at editorial@vanyaland.com.

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Club Underground

1100 Commonwealth Ave., Packard’s Corner, Boston

A few years back we chronicled the insane 15-month history of Club Underground, now a Boston University dorm laundry room. It was part of BU back then, too, but under the booking of Jimmy Coffman (and care of sound technician Michael Whittaker) from February 1980 to June 1981, the Packard’s Corner basement space welcomed locals like Mission of Burma, The Neats, and Lyres, and featured a remarkable pipeline for young British bands playing Boston for the first time, like New Order (a sort of make-up date after the original booking of Joy Division had to be cancelled because of reasons you are aware of), The Cure (on the eve of Robert Smith’s 21st birthday), Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, A Certain Ratio, Bauhaus, and Au Pairs. What a run.

 
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