Venue Review: A Look at 924 Gilman St.

From Humble Beginnings…

The Punk community has had its fair share of iconic venues. From CBGB’s to Max’s Kansas City, there’s a certain venue that should also be recognized as iconic as those venues. 924 Gilman St. in Berkley, CA may not look like much, but that venue helped launch the career of 90’s Punk revival bands such as Green Day, Rancid, The Offspring, and AFI. To its credit, 924 Gilman St. is still operating and thriving to this day even after 37 years of operation.

In 1986, Tim Yohannan, founder of Maximum Rock n Roll Magazine, founded 924 Gilman as an all-ages venue that supports independent artists. Yohannan, along with Victor Hayden, opened the doors to Gilman on New Year’s Eve, 1986. The venue had its first show just a few hours after getting the city’s final approval to open.


924 Gillman St.’s Philosophy

With the venue being all-ages, 924 Gilman would be drug and alcohol-free. The venue would also maintain the ethics of No Racism, Sexism, or Homophobia. Being true to these ethics was a key component of the venue’s core values, as Tim Yohannan was a  Punk fan himself. Similarly, the rules against violence, drugs, and alcohol were also made to prevent the venue from getting shut down.

Due to a lot of violence and racism in the scene, punk shows were pretty dangerous to attend at this time. Choosing the wrong person to fight with could have led to someone’s death. Providing a safe space for Punk kids was a welcome addition for those who wanted to take part in the scene, but felt like a misfit everywhere else. However, even within the scene, the outcasts felt like outcasts. 


Famous Gilman Bands

As the venue opened, a few bands became popular with the crowds. An influential Ska-Punk band, Operation Ivy, got their start at Gilman. In addition to Operation Ivy, Sweet Children began to make their rounds at the venue. Sweet Children would eventually change their name to Green Day and become one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Operation Ivy would, unfortunately, split up, but guitarist Tim Armstrong and bassist Matt Freeman would continue to play together under the band Rancid. Rancid would also end up finding its own mainstream success.

924 Gilman held onto its philosophy that the bands who perform there must be truly independent. The major label successes of Rancid and Green Day were looked at as an insult to the scene. As a result, both bands were banned from performing at the venue for many years. It wasn’t until a compromise was met with the bands who had major label contracts could be allowed to play in the venue, only if the membership for the venue approves of the shows.

Conclusion

Now strictly run by volunteers, 924 Gilman St. still maintains its status as an iconic venue within the punk community. People continue to visit the venue because of its reputation as the starting point for Green Day and Rancid. Almost 40 years later, 924 Gilman St. continues to be a safe haven for Punk kids to embrace the independent ethos of their movement.

You can visit the website for 924 Gilman St. here and donate to the venue

 

 

Author:

Before joining Creek Music Group, I worked at Disney and graduated from Full Sail University with a B.S. in Music Business. Writing has always been a passion of mine, and after college, I turned my hobby into music reviews. I've covered a range of bands, from The Sex Pistols to The Suicide Machines, as well as festivals like 'Punk in Drublic'. Additionally, I've contributed to the paranormal website '13 Society'. When I'm not writing, I like to listen to music and play video

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