Follow GDA on threads! @gdauthority
Finally - a day I'd been waiting for eagerly for weeks, well months actually - Friday February 12 - the day of the Pinhead Gunpowder show at Gilman. I had been working in Santa Clara all week and wanted to get an early start to Berkeley. I was up by 3:30 - quickly getting ready to leave my hotel.

Driving to Berkeley that early was somewhat eerie. It was still quite dark - and rainy as well. There was more traffic than I expected - I hoped all those cars weren't on their way to Gilman (hahaha). It took me about 45 minutes from my hotel - I went straight to the venue and arrived by 5:45.

I was thrilled as I drove past to see what looked like only about 10 people in line. I went around the corner to find parking - then made sure I had everything I needed to keep me happy for a while and walked around the corner to stand in line at 924 Gilman Street - a legend and a place I'd never been inside.

I joined the line, and my estimate turned out to have been pretty good. I was the twelfth person there. Of course, most of the people who eventually showed up hadn't heard about the show until the day before. It was a closely guarded secret up until that time.

In front of me were four people I didn't know who had slept all night in the doorway. Next were were a few people I met later followed by the beginning of our Green Day Community group that had been communicating excitedly on facebook during the weeks leading up to this day. After keeping such a secret in our PM thread for so long, it was exciting to be able to talk out loud about it!

It was dark, cold and misting. There was a slight overhang across the front of the building that protected people who were right next to the wall, but like a fool I kept standing out on the sidewalk in front of my friends talking. I slowly noticed my clothes and shoes feeling cold and damp. Soon Shannon arrived (I'd first met her at the Webster Hall Green Day show last year and have kept up with her online ever since) - so great to see her!

Shannon and I chatted with the others and also reminisced a bit about our past shared experiences. We were both thrilled to realize that we were sharing two firsts - first time to see Pinhead Gunpowder and first time at a Gilman show. Shannon's a great concert buddy, and I'm just delighted we met up early and ended up next to each other for the show.

After that I can't remember the order people showed up in, but it was a while before anyone else got there. Eventually though we had quite a large group of people that I knew from GDC - some of whom I'd never met face-to-face.

The line outside 924 Gilman Street sometime on the day of 2/12/2010
waiting to see Pinhead Gunpowder and 4 other bands that night.

After we'd been there a couple of hours, Shannon and I were able to go eat breakfast while friends held our spots for us. We headed straight for Rudy's where I finally got my Shakin' Jesse (and of course that Eyedaho I'd been craving). It was one of the nicest moments of the trip to just sit in a (not crowded) Rudy's and chat with Shannon. As much as I love the big GDC meet-ups, sometimes it's nice to just talk with one person and have a real conversation. So, Shannon and I had a lovely sanity break and then headed back to the venue. When we got back, there were no more people there than there had been when we left. Then we watched spots for our friends while they went for breakfast.

Waiting in line was mostly fun and mostly uncomfortable all day. As more and more people arrived it was like old home week for a lot of us. It was incredibly exciting to see so many familiar faces showing up and to meet so many new people I'd grown to know and love online. Abbey the Awesome had dog tags made for everyone in our group as a memento of the event. They are metal with words pressed into them. One says Pinhead Gunpowder - February 2010 - 924 Gilman. The other has the initials of each band member on one line and says *every second* underneath. They are on a chain and are just the perfect souvenir of the trip - they go so well with my bruises!

Dog tags by Abbey - made as a memento of the show for our large group of GDC friends.
Photo by Tanya Elder.

At one point during the afternoon, the sun came out and made my heart happy. Most of the day was not terribly cold, but it was difficult to decide whether to stand up all day (knowing we'd be standing all night) or sit on the cold, hard concrete. The sidewalk never warmed up all day. As the afternoon got later, the clouds came back and a heavy mist started up. It wasn't welcomed, but we got through it alright. I had brought several cheap ponchos that we used for sitting on and later for wearing.

When Sara arrived, she and I went to check in at our hotel - we were sharing a room. It was SO good to see her. We met because of the GDC and we've now shared several exceptional experiences. She's become a dear friend as have so many of my friends I've met that way. On our way back to the venue, we stopped for some food - soft tacos for me - they were great! That was to be our sustenance for the rest of the night.

When we got back, it was getting to be time for my friend's nephew, J, to arrive with a couple of friends. My friend had been unable to make it to the show because of the snow in New York. He had been planning to take his nephew and felt better knowing that J would have someone to hang out with at the show. J and I spoke on the phone as he was arriving, and met up right in front of the door where my spot was. He had brought two friends, E and M (who had a broken arm!!!). They were great guys and we really enjoyed their addition to our group.

GDC Meet Up at Gilman
Photo by Beth Weiman
(or actually just with her camera - I believe our new GDC friend Marjorie from France took it)

Soon after the guys arrived, two women came out and sold memberships to those who didn't already have them. For some reason, there's a special thrill in looking at my membership card. I think what they do at Gilman is so important, and I was proud to be even a tiny part of it. After that, a few of us went to put everything we didn't need for the show in my car. I had only cash in my pocket (and my Gilman membership card - oh yeah, and the car keys!). I don't like to bother with stuff during a show. It did hurt to take my jacket off, but I had on a few layers that I could wrap around my waist later when it got too hot inside.

The GDC friendship bracelets at Gilman Street.
Photo by Beth Weiman

By the time we got back to the line, it was obvious that it was almost time to go inside. Everyone was standing - we threw away all the debris from our day's occupancy of the sidewalk (in the handy rubbish bins that had been our backdrop all day). Finally the doors opened and we went in to pay, get stamped, and find our spots for the show. I was amazed but pleased that probably only 3 or 4 people went in ahead of me who hadn't actually been ahead of me when I arrived that morning. Not bad at all!

My first priority was to find a spot where I could enjoy the show - I'm not tall, so being on the front row is important for me. If at all possible, that will be my choice - even though it can be so rough there. Gilman has a roughly rectangular shaped stage with two sides that are free for the audience. The front is by far the longest, and the side is pretty short (part of the frontage on the side is taken up by a set of stairs that the bands and their helpers can use to reach the stage). I squeezed in right next to those stairs by inconspicuously moving them over a bit (they are wooden but not fastened to anything). Soon Sara came along, and we moved the stairs a bit more so she could fit in as well. She was between me and the stairs, and Shannon was on my other side. All around us were friends, and we could see many others in the crowd along the front of the stage. We all agreed that it seemed as if the show was being given just for us and our friends.

Those of us at the edge of the stage turned around and sat on it so we could chat with our friends. At one point, we saw a friend of ours we'd met at the Seattle Green Day show that we didn't know was going to be there. So much excitement was happening all around us!

Before the show started, bands started carrying in their equipment. Just sitting on the edge of the stage talking, I heard people start screaming - I turned to look and saw Billie and Bill S. walk through the side door. Soon they were right behind us putting down some of their equipment in the space where the bands dropped stuff off. Billie was wearing a beanie, jeans - studded belt - hoodie with a faded denim jacket over it - just what I'd expect for Pinhead attire (no hint of what was to come).

I was disappointed on Billie's behalf by the behavior of some of the fans. I knew he didn't want this night to be about Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day. He didn't want to overshadow everyone else. I guess there's a price to pay for his kind of fame (to balance the significant compensation), but I kept thinking that people who really cared about him should be doing a better job of respecting his feelings. I thought it was so sweet to see him walk in carrying some of the equipment over to the corner where the bands stash their stuff ... a bit different from the arena shows where they have 2,000 roadies doing all the lifting.

I caught Bill's eye at one point - called out "Hi Bill" and waved. He made a face of recognition then smiled and waved back (I don't know if he really recognized me or if he was just being polite, but it was great to see his face). Everyone looked really good that night - rested and healthy (I don't know if they really were, but if not - they were certainly doing a fine acting job).

This show was a benefit for Anandi, who is mentioned in the song Crazy Horse, and who is fighting breast cancer. Each of the bands that played had a few words to say on her behalf - encouraging people to stop by the merch table on the way out and to do self-exams. I had a brief chat with Anandi after the show - she's a person I would love to know better. I hope she has a happy ending - whatever it may turn out to be. She's certainly too young to be leaving us yet.

It was finally time for the opening band to begin. They were called Dirty Marquee, and I quite enjoyed several of their songs. It's hard for me to really critique a band when I'm hearing their music for the first time - and especially in a venue like that. It was difficult to hear the vocals, but I thought I might enjoy listening to their music in the future. One of the guitarists gave me their set list and a bunch of stickers he'd been handing out (I already had one so I passed those around).

The second band, Fleabag consisted of a bass player, a guitarist (who happened to be the bass player for Dirty Marquee), and a drummer. Again, I thought I liked some of their sound, but it was difficult to really judge. I definitely liked the people in both bands though. Their personalities were pleasant as far as I could tell, and they seemed to really enjoy what they were doing.

The next band, Mutoid Men, is a tricky one to talk about - they were wearing quite noticeable costumes - that doesn't bother me, but I don't really think it adds anything to this kind of show either. Sometimes I feel as if it's just a plea for attention. I think I might have really enjoyed their music, but it was too loud to the point where I felt it was going to damage my hearing. At one of the Foxboro shows I went to, the opening band did such a job on my eardrums that I could barely hear Foxboro when they came out. That time, it took over three days before my hearing improved enough that I stopped worrying the worst effects were going to be permanent. I was determined not to let that happen at a show where I might be seeing Pinhead Gunpowder for the only time in my life. So I stuffed a gum wrapper in one ear and tried to cover my ears whenever the band members weren't looking. I didn't want them to think I didn't like their music - I actually thought it sounded like it might be pretty good - but it was far too loud, and I could tell the difference in my hearing when they were finished. Fortunately, though, it wasn't so badly damaged that it affected my enjoyment of the Pinhead set.

During the Mutoid Men's set, the crowd starting getting rougher, and even Sara and I on our little side corner felt a bit of the effect. We knew Pinhead would be much more intense, but we had no idea what was in store for us.

The final opening band, Grass Widow also caught my attention. They were three women - bass, guitar, and drums. Several of their songs stood out as being quite intriguing, and I would like to hear more of their work (again when I can hear it a bit better).

After Grass Widow, we all knew what was next. The mood in the room was electric - eager and a bit nervous is how would describe most of the faces I saw. It's interesting how many people come to a show like this with some agenda - such as meeting band members; getting autographs, attention, or photos with the band; making it to the stage; and all sorts of other things I don't even want to imagine. Those people seem to have a certain look on their faces when they're waiting for the show to start. I think most of the crowd was there for the music, but it was obvious there were others who had their own ideas. I feel sorry for those people if they're not able to overcome that feeling when the show starts. They miss so much if their focus is elsewhere. Soaking up *every second* of an experience like this is so exhilarating and satisfying.

The band's equipment was being carried to the stage and set up, and soon the band members started to appear on stage. When Billie walked in, he was wearing a zipped up hoodie with the hood on - pulled low over his face, and a short silk skirt with black leggings, striped socks and Chucks. That caused quite a stir and lots of flashes as people got some great photos. When he took off the hoodie, he revealed that the skirt was actually a very pretty little party dress - black with a pinkish kind of trim.

Jason was dressed in his bright red pants, tuxedo t-shirt, and those shoes that I have such a hard time
describing. I think they are black, red, and green with touches of white. One says Good across the toes, and the other says Luck. I think they have dice and poker chips and things like that on them - but that's just an impression I have - whenever I've seen them, I've forgotten to etch the details into my memory, so I don't have a good description. I hope someone got a good photo of them.

As the mics were tested, it became obvious that none of them was working. Finally, Billie got the crowd engaged in a sing along, and we got three bonus songs that weren't on the set list (My Boot in Your Face is What Keeps Me Alive, Find My Place, and Achin' to Be). It was much more fun than just standing around waiting for the problem to be fixed.

After those three songs, Billie Joe put down his guitar and walked over to the side of the stage right in front of Kathleen and Shannon who were next to me. He made motions with his hands indicating that he wanted the crowd to part and said "Gotta go to the bathroom." Kathleen and Shannon gave him their hands to help him down, and he walked back to the bathroom, closely followed by Security.

A few minutes later, someone on the stage made the same parting of the crowd motions between Shannon and me. So, Shannon and I had to help Billie get back up on the stage. It was a surreal experience pushing and pulling to get him on stage in his little silk dress. Enough said about that.

Just as Billie got back on stage, the mics started working, and the show started up almost immediately.
Here's the set list:

When the band launched into this song, it happened so fast, and I had no idea how quickly the whole show would whiz by me. It seemed only an instant before it was all over - even though the moments I can remember certainly add up to being longer than it seemed.

Before the Accident
Life during Wartime
Cabot Girl
High Maintenance
Westside Highway

Billie and Jason.
Photo by Shannon Creamer.

I Used To
Beastly Bit

I had a lovely moment with Aaron during Beastly Bit, when our eyes happened to meet. I was singing along with the words, "Well you, you can come to me ... and we can share a disease ..." I think he was pleased to see that someone knew the words and wasn't there just because of being a Green Day fan. He gave me the sweetest look and a smile. So, no matter how much of an ass he may have seemed to others (there was much discussion of his behavior after the show), I found it hard to be annoyed with him.

Walkin Catastrophe
Backyard Flames
2nd Street
Anniversary Song
Crazy Horse
(for Anandi, I'm sure)
Future Daydream

Billie in a beret someone threw onstage.
Photo by Shannon Creamer.

Reach for the Bottle
On the Ave

For this song, the band's friend, Lauren was brought on stage to sing with Jason. Billie played an instrument that I believe is called a mouth organ. If you're familiar with the recording of the song, you've heard it.

Big Yellow Taxi
Hahaha - being a Joni Mitchell fan in my youth MANY years ago - I always appreciate this one. I remember seeing her perform it live - she either broke a guitar string or something else went wrong during the song and she immediately ad libbed, "Don't it always seem to go, your guitar goes out of tune in the middle of the show."

New Blood
Homesick Hopes
Losers of the Year

Wait a minute - didn't this show just start - how can it be over already? I don't want it to end.

Random thoughts:
It was SO good, but there is no question in anyone's mind that I talked to - worst pit ever. I honestly thought I was going to kill Sara several times - as well as get both my legs broken and all my internal organs smashed. I was often lifted completely off my feet and slammed into Sara or Shannon - or the stairs after Sara decided to get out.

But WE SURVIVED!! I ended up sitting next to Shannon on stage - I think we sat there for about half the show, though it all seemed to happen so fast - it's hard to really say. I was sitting right next to Jason's set list, and at the end of the show, I picked it up and asked him if I could have it. He very nicely said, "Sure!" It does it make it so much easier to write a recap if I can remember every song that was played. At that point, I was also able to say to both Jason and Billie that it was a wonderful show. I'm sure they were already aware of that, but they both seemed to appreciate the comment anyway. Then I went looking for J, E, and M at the lamp post outside where we'd agreed to meet. I wanted to be sure their ride showed up and that they weren't standing alone on a street corner waiting until it did - small chance of that with a huge party atmosphere happening out in the street for at least an hour after the show.

I kept bumping into people who were just as excited and exhilarated as I was, and we screamed at each other for a few minutes at a time while I continued to keep an eye out for J and his friends. I never found the guys, so I finally went to the car and got my Blackberry to call J. He was already at home as their ride had been waiting for them when they walked out. He also assured me that M made it through the show fine with his broken arm. They must have stayed near the back, because that arm would have never made it through what we experienced on the front row.

I just love the way Jason sings his songs with this band. He obviously really feels them. He seems more active and more at ease when he's playing with PHGP than he does on the arena stage with Green Day. He's such a talented musician, and I felt privileged to stand at his Good Luck feet watching him play and sing.

Jason feeling it!
Photo by Shannon Creamer.

As I said on the GDC forum, I think the Billie of PHGP is the Billie I love best. He's not being "the front man." He's not being the "I've-got-to-get-so-drunk-I-can't-stand-up-because-it's-funny" man. He's just being Billie Joe Armstrong, musician. To me - this is when he's more his real self than any other times I see him perform. Of course, I don't know that for sure. That's just the way it feels to me. I'm sure the other personae I see are also facets of his personality - he always seems to be real whatever he's doing. But I love watching him play his guitar so hard and focused that it's like no one else is in the room. I've seen him do that a few times for a short while at Green Day shows, but never for a whole show like this. PURE AWESOMENESS.

Billie forgetting to be graceful like a girl.
Photo by Shannon Creamer.

Bill S seemed to be having a good time, but he was on the far side of the stage from me. Though I had a great view of him whenever he turned to face Billie, he was often blocked by Billie and/or Jason. He was smiling throughout the show, though, and I think it was fun for him to be playing his bass for an audience again.

Bill S and Billie in his infamous dress.
Photo by Beth Weiman (really!).

I was fascinated watching Aaron play the drums. He puts every fraction of an ounce of his energy into it. After seeing him lie down to rest on the floor behind the drums while the mic problem was being repaired, I was amazed to see the vigor he brought to his performance.

Aaron discussing the benefit for Anandi.
Photo by Shannon Creamer.

Here's the morning-after note I posted on the Green Day Community forum:
Just said goodbye to everyone who made it to Rudy's for breakfast (and BTW, I'm no longer the only one who's going to be dreaming of the Shakin' Jesse). It was a rough goodbye - with tears. Sharing experiences like this forges such strong bonds - such loving friendships - it's hard to describe to people who have never had that feeling. Music is an incredibly emotional experience and being together for something like this with people who get it is like a drink of water in the desert.
Thanks to everyone who made this experience what it was - legendary and unforgettable!
Did we miss something? Submit News.
Popular News