924 Gilman Street

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Operation Ivy playing at Gilman.
Front of Gilman in late 2009.

The Alternative Music Foundation, a non-profit[1] located at 924 Gilman Street, often referred to by its fans simply as "Gilman", is an all-ages, collectively organized music club. It is located in the West Berkeley area of Berkeley, California about a mile and a half west of the North Berkeley BART station and a quarter-mile west of San Pablo Avenue, at the corner of 8th and Gilman Streets.

Gilman showcases mostly punk rock, specifically pop punk and hardcore punk acts, as well as heavy metal, industrial metal, grindcore, ska punk and, most recently, hip hop.

History[edit]

In April 1986, the founders located the building at 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley, California. In the following months, the founders, including Tim Yohannan of Maximumrocknroll, held weekly organizational meetings and posted flyers to increase involvement. On December 31, 1986, the first musical performance was held at 924 Gilman. Since then, it has been one of the longest-running independent music venues in the United States. 924 Gilman opened several months after the closing of two San Francisco punk venues: the Mabuhay Gardens and The Farm. It was founded in part to counteract the lack of punk venues in the San Francisco Bay Area during this era, particularly all-ages venues. It slowly progressed as a mecca for punk youth to get away from everyday issues at home, work, government, etc. The club's history is equally the history of a great number of regional bands whose existence it has nurtured - some of the most notable of these being Green Day, J Church, Neurosis, Operation Ivy, Crimpshrine, Rancid, Fifteen, Spazz, American Steel, AFI, Blatz, The Nerve Agents, Filth, What Happens Next?, Your Mother, The Mr. T Experience, Screw 32, The Criminals, Tilt, and Jawbreaker. Notable touring bands that have played the club over the years include Sick Of It All, Fugazi, Youth of Today, Alkaline Trio, Fucked Up, Gauze, At The Drive In, Citizen Fish, Chumbawamba, His Hero Is Gone, Tragedy, F.Y.P., The Bananas, Sleater-Kinney, Born Against, Infest, Bikini Kill, Bane, Dillinger Four, Defiance, Severed Head of State, Operation: Cliff Clavin, Against Me!, and thousands of others. Some unique qualities of the club's decades-long existence are its membership, as well as its legions-long list of non-notable groups who are nevertheless eminently notable to regular attendees and members.

Founding principles[edit]

924 Gilman Street operates on DIY ethic, whereby members pay $2 per year and are then entitled to make decisions and work for the improvement of the club as a whole. Membership meetings occur at 5 p.m. on the first and third Saturdays of each month. There are four main rules for patrons:

  • No drugs
  • No alcohol
  • No violence
  • No racism

The staff will not book or support racist, sexist, homophobic, or major label bands for performances, and bands must send in copies of their lyrics in order to book a performance at the venue. Members who espouse racist, sexist, or homophobic beliefs are declared personae non gratae, as is anyone who brings or deals drugs or alcohol on the premises.

Music[edit]

Gilman showcases mostly punk rock, specifically pop punk and hardcore punk acts, as well as heavy metal, industrial metal, grindcore, ska punk and, most recently, hip hop.

A 2004 history of the club, 924 Gilman: The Story So Far, was written and edited by Brian Edge, who collected memories and anecdotes from many of the seminal contributors to the club's day-to-day operations from 1986 through publication in 2004.[2] The book is available through AK Press and also contains a full list of Gilman's shows from 1986 through early 2004.

Some bands, including AFI, The Offspring, and Green Day, are no longer allowed to play at the venue due to major label contracts; many of the other bands are defunct. The venue still serves the East Bay and Northern California hardcore scene by bringing local, national, and international acts to the East Bay.

Green Day, however, performed a set after fellow punk band The Influents in 2001. The show was taped and put on DVD for sale on the Influents web store.[3] Green Day was not officially booked; they went on stage without consulting Gilman staff. The Influents decided to cut their set short to let Green Day perform. Even though Pinhead Gunpowder includes Billie Joe Armstrong, the lead singer and guitar player of Green Day, they are still allowed to perform at 924 Gilman because the band has not signed with a major record label.

Operation Ivy recorded their 7" vinyl EP record '69 Newport at the venue.[4]

Jello Biafra incident[edit]

On May 7, 1994, an incident occurred in which audience members attacked former Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra, claiming he was a sellout (though Biafra had never signed to a major label). Biafra claims that he was attacked by a man nicknamed Cretin, who crashed into him while bringing the mosh. The crash injured Biafra's leg, causing an argument between the two men. During the argument, the man pushed Jello to the floor and five or six friends of Cretin assaulted Biafra while he was down, yelling "sellout rock star, kick him."[5] Biafra was later hospitalized with serious injuries.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.924gilman.org/blog/?page_id=9
  2. ^ "924 Gilman: The Story So Far...". Books. Amazon.com. 
  3. ^ http://www.theinfluents.net/news/letter2.htm
  4. ^ http://www.discogs.com/Operation-Ivy-69-Newport/release/727323
  5. ^ Goldberg, Michael. "Jello Biafra Attacked". Rolling Stone. July 14, 1994 & July 28, 1994.
  6. ^ According to Allmusic [1], having had both his legs broken. A 1994 issue of Rolling Stone also claimed that his injuries included "extensive damage to the ligaments of one knee as well as a superficial head wound."

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°52′46″N 122°17′59″W / 37.87956°N 122.29963°W / 37.87956; -122.29963