By Pinhead Gunpowder, I actually mean Green Day AND Pinhead Gunpowder. Well, a good portion of the band(s) anyway.
Let me start by explaining a little something I like to call “Green Day magic.”
It’s almost Christmas. My family lives in Florida and I had a flight home to see them booked for Friday the 16th. I was notified Thursday night that my flight was canceled and they had automatically rebooked me for Saturday. However, Friday—while I should have already been en route to Florida, mind you—I receive a text from my friend Marnie, who works at the San Francisco Examiner.
Both Jakob Danger AND SWMRS are playing a surprise show on Sunday at 1234Go! Records in Oakland as a benefit for the Ghost Ship fire victims (the warehouse in Oakland that housed creatives that burned down). That’s BOTH of Billie Joe Armstrong’s sons. Pair that with the fact that Green Day has a tendency to play surprise benefit shows as is. Green Day also had a hand in establishing the music venue at 1234Go! and Billie’s guitar shop Broken Guitars is right across the street. All signs point to our boys playing.
So I called the airline and asked if I could get my new flight switched to Monday instead of Saturday so I could make it to the show. Everything works out when Green Day is involved, and it was by pure magic that I was at that show.
I got to the record store around noon thinking there would be a line there already because the show was first come first serve rather than ticketed. It’s a benefit with a required donation at the door, but you get in the door if you’re there. I was surprised to find that no one was there at noon, so I walked to the end of the block to one of my favorite restaurants, The Homeroom, to load up on mac’n’cheese before the show.
Side note: My obsession with the Homeroom’s mac’n’cheese is the reason I met Billie Joe. I was walking from lunch to the train when I sneezed and he blessed me. -sigh-
After I had dealt with my stomach, I made my way back to 1234Go! to explore the record store. I found Pinhead Gunpowder’s Jump Salty on CD and bought it, not realizing they would be playing that night as well. I’m sure the guy who rang me up was well aware, but he didn’t say anything. Oh the irony of my life.
There was another girl in the record store, who I later learned is named Rocky, who asked the guy about tickets for the show. I’m not alone. One other person thought to get here as early as I did.
I also peeked into the back room where the stage is set up and noticed a sign that said the venue capacity is 49.
Forty-nine. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be seeing Green Day play in a venue that holds 49 people.
Remember when I thought the Cleveland House of Blues was the smallest venue I’d ever see them play? Ha.
Eventually my friends start showing up and we create the line outside the venue. Shar and Kairi got there around 2, and Marnie got there around 3.
Rocky joins the line right behind us and we talked for a bit. Turns out she knows some of the same people I do—Life, who was I the Mighty‘s merch manager, and Shane Gann, guitarist of Hail the Sun—because she tours with The White Noise, who played on the most recent Dance Gavin Dance tour (as did everyone else I named).
Note to self: Everyone in this industry knows everyone.
She said she’d been trying to see SWMRS play for the longest time, but had to sell her tickets probably seven times because of her tour schedule. I feel that life so much and I don’t even get paid to tour.
We spent most of the remainder of the day trying to convince ourselves that Green Day had to be playing this show. Let’s look at the facts:
- SWMRS had a show scheduled that weekend in New York but canceled it at the last minute, so this show had to be a big deal.
- Billie Joe has made comments about the need for safe DIY spaces for creatives before, so we know the Ghost Ship would be a benefit he’d support 100%.
- A guy walked out of the record store and told us he’s friends with SWMRS and had been texting them all day. He joked about how we all know who the special guests are.
Me: -unintelligible squealing noises of excitement and cheering-
Shar: “Special guests? What do you mean? We’re just here to see SWMRS.”
- Marnie and I went to Broken Guitars to buy tshirts and I asked the cashier a little too sarcastically about the special guests and he acted like I already knew the answer.
- Apparently we walked past Bill Schneider, bassist of Pinhead Gunpowder, and I didn’t even realize it until Shar told me.
- My friend Cade messaged me and said that he was there (he lives in Boston these days, so being there was a big deal) and that he’d heard from SWMRS that Pinhead Gunpowder was playing. !!!
- Kairi went into the record store close to time to use the bathroom and heard one of the boys from SWMRS saying that “Mike was bringing a bass.” Well… we all know a Mike who plays bass…
- And then about as much confirmation as we can possibly get, another guy near us in line went in (also to use the bathroom I’m assuming) and peeked into the back room with the stage and saw SWMRS onstage practicing alongside none other than Billie and Mike.
Ding ding ding! We have a winner!
Thanking all of my lucky stars that my flight was canceled right about now.
Finally they open the doors for real (and not just for shopping) so we all rush in. The stage only came up to my ankles. Goddamn this is a small venue. Amazing.
Mind you, none of these pictures taken by me (shit quality that they are) are zoomed in at all. This is really how close I was.
The first set of performers were rappers Ricky Lake (wasn’t there a talk show host in the 90’s named Ricky Lake?) and Young Ocean. I think they’re friends with either SWMRS or Danger (or probably both). I’m not a huge rap fan to be honest, but they were alright and some of their lyrics were really funny.
Young Ocean kept getting in the crowd and trying to mosh. I’m like how the crap do you mosh to this?
Then Danger came out. They’re all such babies, I can’t deal. (In a good way. It was cute.) Jakob’s vocals were really low so I could hardly hear him, but overall I really liked his music. I’d heard a few of his songs on the internet and didn’t think I was super into it, but hearing him live changed my appreciation of it a lot. Or maybe his style just changed since then, I’m not sure. They could have been completely different songs. But he did really well and I’m sure his dad was proud of him.
After Danger, SWMRS came out to set up the stage. I snapped a picture of the setlist and about shit my pants. “Armatage Shanks,” “Stuck with Me,” and “Murder City.” I’m going to see “Murder City” live. What the hell even. Is this real life?
I always forget how much I love SWMRS until I see them live. They always absolutely kill it. I should see them more often.
They opened with “BRB” which is probably my current favorite song on Drive North. And just a great song to open a set with. They also played “Miley” which I’m not too fond of, but I really love “Figuring it Out,” “Harry Dean,” and “D’You Have a Car?” I wish they would’ve played some songs from Emily’s Army (their old band name, and a completely different sound) because I really love that too, but oh well. They’ve moved on from that I guess.
Then bassist Seb Mueller left the stage and Billie and Mike came on. Naturally, we all flipped our shit even though we knew that was going to happen.
Apparently over $3,000 was raised for Ghost Ship, which is pretty awesome considering the venue was so small. 1234Go! filled all their available spaces to capacity to accommodate everyone who showed up, even though all the other rooms (like the record store part) couldn’t actually see the show. It was super sweet to allow them in to at least hear it though. So that 49-person capacity probably became more like 200.
I’m not sure where Tre Cool was, but I have a feeling Joey really wanted to play with his dad anyway. It was the cutest thing watching them play together, because Joey was so obviously trying to make his dad proud. My heart.
Here’s a weird thing: My whole body gets into it when I’m singing (especially with my favorite bands, like ya know, Green Day for instance) so I’m standing there with my fist in the air so close to Billie that I was actually afraid I was gonna punch him. That’s not a normal thought. “Oh my god, I might accidentally punch Billie Joe Armstrong while I’m getting into the song.” The hell?!
Joey: “Look at me for this one!”
Billie: “What part?”
Joey: “All of it!”
Jakob played one song with them too, but I can’t remember which one. Family jammin’.
After the short Green Day set ended, Mike traded places with Bill Schneider for a Pinhead Gunpowder set. They played “Losers of the Year,” “Life During Wartime” (which I absolutely love), and “Anniversary Song.”
Then Billie called Seb back onstage. (I have written in my notes “Did he call him Sea Bass or did I imagine that?”)
He whispered something in one of the Becker boys’ ears and asked if he knew how to play it.
“I’ll figure it out!”
Cutest. Thing. Ever.
What he was asking about was if they could play a cover of The Mice’s “Not Proud of the U.S.A.” Seemed like a very last minute addition to the setlist, and it was awesome.
The venue was so tiny that seeing my favorite band (most of them at least) there was so surreal. I say this a lot, but I’m not sure what could ever top that. And Pinhead Gunpowder never plays shows, so even though they only played three songs, it was super special to be there for that.
Marnie: “We’re like an elite group being at this show.”
When the show was over, Marnie pointed at a setlist and said she wanted it. I told her to jump onstage and go grab it, but that if she didn’t I would. She didn’t. So I did. And I killed my knee on a speaker on the way there. Worth it.
We hung around for a little while after that, but when we didn’t see Billie or Mike making any more appearances, we peaced out.
Featured image: Shameless Promotions & Media