We used to call it the pest list, the list bands put names on to get their friends into the show for free. You can’t put everyone on the pest list.
If I remember correctly, when Spitboy was playing Gilman we were only allowed a few people on our guest list, a couple more if could make a particularly good case. The reason bands are only allowed a few people on their guest list at small clubs has everything to do with the size of the club, fire code, and of course money.
My son, Luis Manuel, and I weren’t on the guest list of last night’s Gilman show at which Green Day played (a benefit for the AK Press and 1984 Printing damage in a fire that claimed two lives) for the first time in twenty-one years, but we got in anyway. I won’t say how because it was a little dodgy and because I don’t want to implicate anyone (I did make a donation to the cause). A friend in one of the other bands that played offered to get my son and I in once we got to the door, so I guess we did have a real in after all.
My son who is thirteen and becoming mildly embarrassed of me (as is the order of things) is not the Green Day fan that he once was, but I am, so I made him come with me to see what all the fuss was about.
“We’re not even going to get in,” he said in his snide thirteen year old way on our way there.
As the parent of teen, I tend to ignore such behavior because it’s not worth the power struggle.
“I bet some of my friends from school will be there,” he said later as we walked from the car.
I had my own doubts about getting into a show that sold out online in a reported ten seconds , but it was worth a try, plus I was meeting my friend Juliette from out of town at Pyramid Brewery across the street, a friend who did get on the guest list, someone I hadn’t seen in twenty years.
My son tried to play it cool when Juliette asked him if he was excited about the show once we got access to the wrist bands. He just shrugged his shoulders. In addition to being a surly thirteen year-old, he can be shy around people he doesn’t know. I explained to Juliette that my son is a jazz musician, a piano player, and that he doesn’t listen to Green Day or any of the other alternative music that he was listening to two years ago. However, like Green Day, my son hopes to one day make money playing music because like Green Day, he is all about the music, playing it, thinking about, listening to it, and he hopes, one day composing it and playing for an audience other than his parents or other parents of his peers at recitals for the performing arts school that he attends in Oakland.
I understand the sellout argument, but I won’t bother rehashing it here. I was in a band that would not have been pursued by a major label. We were too loud, too angry, too feminist, but that was never a reason for me to turn my back on bands that have, to shame people I sort of grew up with. I, famously, went to see Nirvana play in 1993 at the Oakland Coliseum. In fact, I went to with Jason White who plays guitar in Green Day. It’s not in my nature to hate people for making a decision to make a living doing something that they love. I would love to make money on my writing, and I had a story recently published in an anthology put out by a major publishing house. No one is calling me a sellout or creating a bunch of controversy.
Punk rock is fussy. I know that. There are rules in punk rock too, rules made by people who hate rules, and that’s fine, I guess, but don’t ask me to make excuses for liking Green Day even though I played drums in Spitboy because I won’t do it.
I will, however, stand up on a table in the back of Gilman and dance just like I did when I was twenty-three years old if, even my thirteen year old son doesn’t approve.