On February 1, 1994, Green Day released their third studio album Dookie, launching the trio’s music into mainstream recognition. The last 25 years have seen the punk rock band rise to legendary status, inspiring in its wake a vibrant and continuous community of punk rock musicians and aficionados. It is in honor of this legacy that on February 2, 2019, 14 Bay Area bands joined hands for an epic tribute album release show at 924 Gilman, the volunteer-run, non-profit punk rock venue where Green Day famously spent their early days.
By Maddi G
Right from when the doors opened at 6 p.m., a long line of Green Day fans of all types and ages—including a fair amount of little kids, some the full package with spiky jackets and mohawks—spilled onto the sidewalk outside the venue. Inside, the pre-show chatter was pervaded by snippets of Green Day anecdotes and familiar banter among band members and interviewers. Merch tables lined either side of the venue, one of which (as the bassist from Sarchasm shamelessly promoted every few sets) sold vinyl records of the Dookie tribute album. The compilation, titled Gilman Street’s Rip Off, features each song of Dookie covered by a band in the Bay Area indie/punk scene, 14 of which were present at Gilman that night to show their love for the legendary punk rock band.
The night opened with all-female indie trio Weeny Witch with their cover of “All By Myself”, the last song off of Dookie, and progressive/math rock band Rex Means King with their cover of “F.O.D.” The latter’s wailing, post-rock-like guitar riffs and raspy, harmonized screams differentiated them from the sea of indie bands to follow. These included poppy indie punk band Unpopular Opinion (“Longview”)—whose upbeat, bouncy rhythms drew energy from the momentary influx of teenagers in the crowd—and self-proclaimed ‘sugary punk’ duo Little Debbie and the Crusaders (“Chump”)—whose singer’s spunky facial expressions and drummer’s impromptu solos more than compensated for several technical difficulties.
And then there was psychedelic lighting and the ever-bizarre Gnarboots, with their eerie, stripped-down cover of “When I Come Around”. Along with, naturally, a massive dance party. Something involving chanting, wailing, a drummer in a clown mask, a massive white canopy, confetti, balloons, and whole lot of dancing (and a fair amount of people with dumbfounded expressions).
Livermore quintet Neverlyn, the sixth band of the night, absolutely astounded with their haunting rendition of “Welcome to Paradise”, leaving the crowd in hushed anticipation of what they had to offer next. While they refer to themselves as pop punk—and their recorded music certainly exemplifies that genre—their live performance fell somewhere between garage rock and indie punk. Lead vocalist Anna’s powerful, impassioned vocals (and adorably aggressive dance moves) on top of rough guitar melodies and sharp drums gave the poppy sound of their records a heavier, sultrier twist.
The band that followed, Sacramento trio Danger Inc., also delivered a live performance notably different from the more polished sound of their recorded albums. Their live sound was that of upbeat indie punk, made danceable with bouncy guitar lines and drummer Dave’s buoyant rhythms (and spectacular facial expressions). Red-haired guitarist/lead vocalist Jessica’s sweet, spunky screams along with the powerful jump kicks of bassist Danny—who certainly made ample use of his half of the stage—came together to form one of the most energetic sets of the night. They concluded with a peppy cover of “Sassafras Roots”.
After emo/alternative rock band Like Roses (“Basket Case”) inspired the crowd into a series of wonderfully tumultuous mosh pits, self-proclaimed California rock and roll band Get Married maintained the strong, high-energy vibe with lead vocalist Jaake’s cheeky heeeeyos into the crowd and the drummer’s rolling, saucy groove under strong, steady guitar lines. They concluded with a cover of “Coming Clean” that was absolutely killer, before handing the stage off to well-loved alternative punk trio Grumpster (“Having a Blast”).
Grumpster was followed by Pity Party (“She”), a well-known emo/pop punk band from Oakland with an insane amount of live energy. Vocalist Sarah’s soulful screams and tireless dance moves—those which landed her not one but two lost hair ties—kept the crowd engaged for the entirety of their set. Borrowing a guitarist from Like Roses and one from San Jose-based screamo group awakebutstillbed, Pity Party—like many of the bands at Gilman that night—featured a line-up slightly altered from their usual.
Next we heard Berkeley-based “anxious indie punk” trio Sarchasm (“Pulling Teeth”), some of whose members work in sound tech at Gilman. Although they sometimes play with Pity Party’s Sarah, tonight they remained a trio composed of guitarist Mari, bassist Alex, and drummer Stevie, all of whom also do vocals. Alex, wearing a quirky propeller cap, was sure to promote the tribute record before they launched into a lively, consistent set, highlighted by teal-haired Stevie’s steady, buoyant rhythms and simultaneous vocals. In between songs, the trio talked about some of their favorite Green Day memories, creating camaraderie through their mutual love of the band and the musical shoes that it has inspired them to fill.
Swimming out of the indie trend, the night neared its end with hardcore punk group Deseos Primitivos (“Emenius Sleepus”), whose sharp, cutting vocals were all in Spanish. With drummer Jimmy’s anthemic beats and low, churning guitar melodies, the Oakland-based band imbued the night with a new, heavier flavor, eliciting head-banging dance moves from those still around in the crowd. They were followed, ultimately, by hardcore/punk rock group Corrupted Morals (“In the End”), who are aptly known for being one of the original 924 Gilman Street bands in the 1980s.
Gilman’s 25 Years of Dookie tribute show celebrated the anniversary of an album that continues, miraculously, to create a convivial sense of community among people from all stages and walks of life. The night was a testament to the lasting power of Green Day’s music to inspire both old and new additions to the punk rock scene of each generation to come.