For those unfamiliar with the concept of Undercover Presents, you may get a little overwhelmed at one of their shows. Their thesis (I guess) is that music is a good thing. Music should be made, and people who make music are doing good things. This is embodied in the title of Lyz Luke’s position: Executive Music Enabler. The idea that music is a good thing is a pretty huge umbrella, and the shows they put on take full advantage of it. So everyone at The Fox Theater on Friday for their tribute to Green Day’s “Dookie” album got a vast, all-encompassing experience. We watched as the musical territory staked out got larger and larger, and the connection between making music and going to concerts got closer and closer. In short: It was great.
>We got to see Marston‘s stately indie take on “Burnout”. We got to see La Plebe bring their mariachi punk flavor to “Having A Blast”. We go to see the funk of Sal’s Greenhouse, electric gospel funk of Jazz Mafia’s Choral Syndicate, the electro art prog of Moetar, the kick ass punk of Love Songs, the surreal comedic pastiche of The Fuxedos, the Appalachian dirge of Goodnight Texas, the Tunisian Chaabi music of MC Rai, the live electronica of NVO featuring Bosko, the ska reggae of Skank Bank, the symphonic sounds of Awesome Orchestra (who backed the remaining artists) featuring Casey Crescenzo, the soul power of Martin Luther, and the punk rock of Tilt. All in the jarring-in-a-good-way context of covering the Green Day album that introduced them to the world.
Hosting a show with 14 — count ’em, 14 — different artists performing in the span of two hours sounds like a logistical nightmare, even with two drum kits onstage. To alleviate boredom between sets, there were video testimonials of each band and their experiences with the album. It definitely helped, but there was still a lot of downtime between songs, so if you were in the front you probably felt it. However, the sense of community established by the organizers, and several speeches about the value of going to see local music, gave the whole event an intimate vibe, which helped the audience forgive the time between bands.
The show was a benefit for 924 Gilman Street, the legendary all-ages Berkeley punk venue that Green Day came up in, alongside Operation Ivy, Rancid, Crimpshrine, Jawbreaker, The Mr. T Experience, the aforementioned Tilt, and countless other Bay Area punk luminaries. The entire event was tinged with local flavor — there were visual projections that were created by the students of Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts. Sponsors included local recording studios, Green Day, members of local business ventures (I’ll let you figure out what those are), and various other Bay Area institutions. Also, Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf went onstage near the end to proclaim February 19th 2016 “Green Day Day”. That was pretty cool.
UnderCover Presents has and continues to create utterly unique concert events like this, including tributes to Sly & The Family Stone, Radiohead, Bob Marley, Black Sabbath, Nick Drake, and many others. Check out their upcoming shows if you’d like to have your mind expanded.