This Thursday, April 13th, marks a significant day for the Bay Area punk rock scene as Berkeley’s infamous 924 Gilman celebrates its 30th anniversary with a special benefit performance by The Offspring, playing the entirety of their 1992 record, Ignition.
It seems fitting that a mega group like The Offspring would rekindle their roots at a club where bands like Green Day, NOFX, Rancid and Operation Ivy all made their starts. 924 Gilman has survived thirty years…THIRTY YEARS! I was three when the club opened its doors, and for any business, especially a small concert venue with rich history and cheap shows, that’s thoroughly impressive. Especially during a time when other historical venues around the Bay Area are fighting and clawing to survive.
Anyone who grew up in the Bay Area most likely has at least one impressionable memory from Gilman Street. My first show was Jonah Matranga’s indie pop punk band, New End Original. An example of the club’s loyalty to anything moderately punk—but most importantly, independent. Matranga was an idol of mine from his days as the frontman of the Sacramento band, Far, and I was ecstatic to finally see a show at the Gilman.
While walking down the street to grab a burrito before the show, I noticed a man huddled up on a dimly lit stoop, erratically scribbling notes in a journal. After a second glance, I noticed it was Jonah. We left him in peace, but those are the moments that the Gilman inspires—a humanization of your idols. During the show, we were able to get up close until a mosh pit broke out, and the rest of the night ended with a sweat-drenched shirt and a high five from Jonah.
Andy Pohl, founder of Sell the Heart Records, recalls the Plea for Peace Tour in 2000 that made a stop at Gilman, the little venue that could not be stopped. “The tour was comprised of Alkaline Trio, MU330, Link 80, Lawrence Arms, and several others. It was a homecoming for Link 80 so the place went nuts. It was such a perfect spot to watch the show, particularly one that held such a virtuous purpose.”
“From its beginnings, Gilman has been a place for inspiring people to act, be engaged, and to come together.”- Andy Pohl/Sell the Hearts Records
The venue oozes history and character. Graffiti and band stickers cover the interior of the modest brick building. Slogans like “we are cool, give us money” and “sometimes things don’t work out” are inscribed on banners and painted on walls. The stage isn’t much higher than two feet, creating an intimate experience while dousing fans with sweat and spit.
924 Gilman embodies certain sentiments they’ve abided by from the beginning. There’s a list of “no’s” stenciled on a wall that includes “no racism, no sexism, no homophobia, and no fighting”…to name a few. And as mentioned before, they hardly book any bands on a major label (Green Day played under the alias Pinhead Gundpowder). Their shows are always between five to ten bucks, are all ages, ran by volunteers and are defined as a nonprofit art and music community.
The 30th Anniversary show has sold out, but check the calendar for upcoming shows by Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, Hellbilly’s and the Voodoo Glow Skulls, respectively.