Music like most things in life revolve in circles morphing and changing based on its surroundings. Change itself sometimes does not happen until there is a need and a need met such was the case in the early ninety’s during the height of the grunge phase. Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and others had already made their eleventieth billion play on every major radio station known to man and bled dry the wallets of suburbanites everywhere, once again a change needed to happen. “The next big thing” was brewing. Since the late eighties the smoldering ashes of a once great empire still burned with red hot embers in the West Berkeley area of California, waiting for the frenzied fire of punk rock to burn again. That spark ignited in a place called the 924 Gilman Street Collective.
“The Gilman” as members refer to it was founded to fill a void left by a dying scene by Tim Yohannan of Maximumrocknroll and other individuals who shared the same Do it Yourself Ethic. The club and its members operate under strict rules to ensure equality amongst its patrons and performers alike. No Drugs, No Alcohol, No Violence, No Racism and most importantly no band signed to a major label are allowed to perform or step foot on the premises . Since the humble beginnings of the Gilman Street Project in 1986, the club has become one of the longest-running independent music venues in the United States. Gilman showcases mostly punk rock, specifically pop punk and hardcore punk acts, as well as heavy metal, grindcore, ska punk and industrial music. Some of these bands include Samiam, Screeching Weasel, The Mr. T Experience, Operation Ivy, Rancid,
Around the very same time the Gilman Street Project was conceived a Berkeley independent record label had started on the kitchen table of Lawrence Livermore and David Hayes with the same Do It Yourself principles in heart. The shoestring label released predominantly “Punk” or “Pop-Punk” bands which reflected the sound of the underground scene gaining such notoriety at Gilman. Over time Lookout included various types of pop rock, reggae fusion, acoustic rock, pop punk, and indie rock. Lookout took a chance on a sound that was not making barrels of money. Bands like Green Day
were completely unknown and far from the major label driven marionette dolls we see before us today. Music was at the heart of everything coming from Lookout Records as it was at the Gilman. Lookout Records and the 924 Gilman Street Collective had together breathed new life into a dying scene and helped usher in “The next big thing” based on simplistic ideals hardly seen in today’s music. But of course if we all wait long enough their will become the need and the embers will begin to glow once more.