Jesse Malin's Black Market: Bigger Than Kenmare?

by BILLY GRAY · February 18, 2010

Jesse Malin's East Village rock den Cabin Down Below regularly draws night owls away from Top of the Standard come 2 am. Now his latest spot, Black Market, is stealing even mighty Kenmare's thunder. Has underdog punk Malin reached the top of NYC's nightlife totem pole?

A  Tuesday night preview at Black Market drew the likes of Bono, Michael Stipe, Natalie Portman, Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Spike Jonze and the Olsen twins (look down and you'll see them). The wingding was in honor of fancy pants clothing line Rodarte and during Fashion Week, which inflated the guest list. But it bodes well for the Avenue A newcomer (and poorly for local peasants hoping to check it out for themselves). It also confirms that Malin has stealthily joined the roster of NYC nightlife heavyweights.

Malin is an unlikely Olsen magnet, and that's a good thing. The punk veteran fronted local hardcore band Heart Attack at the ripe old age of 13. The group played its final show in 1984 at CBGB (Malin was a regular and appeared in Burning Down the House, a great doc about the iconic punk bar). He went on to form bands with names like PCP Highway and Bellevue and was the lead singer of D Generation for 8 years.

Coney Island High, Malin's beloved rock bar and performance venue on St. Marks Place is gone (its closure in 1999 was one of the final nails in that street's pierced, tattooed coffin), but he's had a resurgence lately with Bowery Electric,  Cabin and Black Market (upstairs from Cabin, in the former Pizza Shop, another Malin joint).

But has he sold out? What's a veteran East Village punk doing hosting a party for Rodarte? As another Fashion Week bites the dust and thankfully takes some star wattage with it, Black Market will hopefully relax into a solid, rock-tinged neighborhood joint.

The sweaty, puke-stained ghost of CBGB  would not abide another velvet rope.