Just finished devouring Jack Boulware & Silke Tudor’s Gimme Something Better: The Profound, Progressive and Occasionally Pointless History of Bay Area Punk. It’s a major tome and a great read. File it right next to Please Kill Me and Our Band Could Be Your Life as another great history of a seminal rock scene. Interestingly, even though I’ve lived in the Bay Area for over 20 years, I’m not steeped in the early punk rock lore of this town (Nuns/Avengers/Crime), nor was I ever invested in the Gilman scene (Green Day/Jawbreaker/Rancid/Operation Ivy). That said, I loved how this book was put together, the stories it told, and how it approached the music scene in a comprehensive way.
What sets Gimme Something Better apart from Please Kill Me or Our Band, is that the book moves beyond just the antics and the history of the bands involved. Yes, there are whole chapters devoted to The DKs, Green Day, Rancid, and plenty others. But much like the Bay Area scene itself, Gimme Something Better, focuses on the totality of the scene and the networks of people that brought us from the Mabuhay Gardens to world domination by Green Day. Gimme Something Better shines equal amounts of light on the mags and the zines; on the bars, clubs, warehouses, and house parties; on the roadies, the promoters, and the punk houses; on the radio shows, the labels, and the poster artists; on the politics, the politics, and the politics. All take center stage. As the scene moves deep into the East Bay, the scene itself becomes it’s own entity, as important as any one band. And Gimme Something Better does a great job reflecting that spirit. The book is very cool in that way. Highly recommended.