East Bay punk lore has it that Green Day was banned from the iconic 924 Gilman Street venue after signing to a major label before the 1994 release of its third album, Dookie. An even more recent edition to this local narrative came in May 2015, when Green Day’s Gilman ban was lifted, returning to the beloved venue to play a sold-out secret show under the moniker Sweet Children to raise money for local DIY publishing house AK Press.
So it is only fitting that Gilman’s reclamation of its prodigal sons follow suit with a tribute to the aforementioned album. But instead of banning the band and its music, Gilman is welcoming its return home with open arms — in a dedicated effort to preserve that very home.
924 Gilman has teamed up with UnderCover Presents — a local nonprofit that stages live tributes to beloved albums — to present “A Tribute to Dookie,” a concert featuring more than 100 artists performing tracks from the classic Green Day record in their own respective styles.
The show, which will take place Feb. 19 at the Fox Theater in Oakland, is a benefit for 924 Gilman. According to its Indiegogo campaign, the organization is attempting to raise $30,000 which will go toward lowering ticket prices, making necessary building repairs and eventually buying out the building in which the venue is housed.
“We’re all about building bridges between different communities,” said Lyz Luke, one of the founders of UnderCover. “And I think 924 Gilman is a huge part of that.”
According to its mission statement, UnderCover describes itself as “a grassroots collective that gathers musicians from every corner of the Bay Area music community to celebrate the influence of classic albums.” Past tributes have included Joni Mitchell’s Blue in 2012, and Amy Winehouse: the Singles in 2015, as part of the exhibit dedicated to Winehouse at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.
“We thought the show was going to be a one-off the first time we did it,” Luke said, referring to 2010’s tribute to the Velvet Underground and Nico. “Then we just realized how important it was to have something like that.”
Luke describes the camaraderie formed between bands with each UnderCover production. As the shows give them a space to interact with local artists of different genres whom they would never be able to connect with otherwise.
“(For many of the bands), UnderCover was the first show the gave them common ground,” Luke said. “It just really build this overwhelming sense of community among musicians. And then for the audience members … they ended up falling in love with a dozen other bands that night.”
Because of its penchant for finding diverse, up-and-coming acts in the Bay Area music scene, UnderCover has been deemed a “trusted curator” of musical talent.
“We don’t want a lineup that’s just a bunch of indie rock bands or a bunch of hip-hop artists,” Luke said. “We really try to keep it diverse.”
The 15-artist lineup for the upcoming Dookie tribute proves to be as diverse as ever, with everything from a melancholic yet theatrical rendition of “Basket Case” by the Fuxedos to a Spanish version of “Having a Blast” courtesy of Latino-American punk band La Plebe.
While UnderCover has been hinting at the arrival of a few surprise guests on the show’s Facebook event page over the last few weeks, Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong recently revealed via Twitter that he will be in attendance Friday.
“They’re really excited to honor him in front of him and our other special guests,” Luke laughed, when asked if the artists seemed nervous at the prospect of performing Green Day’s hits for Armstrong himself. “In fact, the funny thing I heard from people who are friends of Green Day is that for them, it’s a little overwhelming to think about 150 musicians backstage paying tribute to their work.”
But what may prove to be most overwhelming is the audience response, as they gather in celebration to support the worthy cause of 924 Gilman, but to also celebrate an album that has been an irrefutable catalyst for many music lovers in the 22 years since its release.
“After every UnderCover show, I kind of try to stand either at the edge of the stage or by the exit,” Luke said. “And people kind of just being so overwhelmed emotionally that they start crying and collapsing and telling me exactly what that album meant to them in their life and their childhood. I think this one’s gonna have the same impact.”
924 Gilman’s and UnderCover Presents’ “A Tribute to Dookie” will be at the Fox Theater on Feb. 19.
Rosemarie Alejandrino is the arts & entertainment editor. Contact her at [email protected].