BART Punks

Everything about this is fantastic:

Imagine the most packed rush-hour train you've ever been on; then multiply the crowd by three, and add the deafening pulses and surges of two live punk bands, plus the swelling energy of a sold-out stadium show. People were standing on top of seats and hanging from the handrails to catch the action, some thrashing around mosh-pit style as best they could without knocking over band members. One person even briefly crowd-surfed.

"I was genuinely shocked to see how many people showed up and were interested in supporting what we're doing. I didn't expect that many people to be there to see this. And I was really inspired to see everyone smiling, singing along and just having a good time," Cody said. [...]

The train kept quaking, and the music raged on. By now, any fears I'd had of the event turning into a dangerous situation had dissipated. Despite the crowd's rowdiness, there seemed to be a shared understanding of care.

"Creating a safe space is one of the reasons I really like the hardcore scene that's happening right now in the bay. The people there are very careful about making sure everyone there feels good," said Bayden, the drummer for False Flag. "People really are there to enjoy the music and have a good time without hurting others."

"We really look out for each other," Pretty said. "We like to get in the pit and do stuff like that, but we still know what's right and what's wrong. We still know how to pick each other up."

What also stood out was the crowd's age; instead of a surly group of white dudes in their late 20s, as might be expected at a show like this, the train's passengers were mostly teenagers, of different races and genders. I later learned that this is also true of the bands themselves. The members of Surprise Privilege are all in their very early 20s, and two-thirds of False Flag are still in high school. Their shows, then, tend to act as safe spaces for young punks who might not have access to other events.

"The Bay Area is pretty small regarding venues, and there's especially not that many that are all-ages. Spaces like this provide an opportunity for everyone, no matter who you are, to come and watch. And it's just an opportunity to create a thriving arts community in the bay and show young people that, hey, this stuff exists and it's pretty cool," Cody said. [...]

The music and chaos went on for five more stops -- about six songs per band, to the surprise of the band members, who thought they'd be handcuffed before the first set started. BART police entered the train at Fruitvale Station and ordered everybody off but didn't detain or fine either band. According to the band members, the only reason the train stopped was because "someone's vape got stuck in a BART door." "If that hadn't happened, the show would've kept going," Bayden said.

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14 Responses:

  1. All I can think, though, is how many of these people now have COVID, or flu, or just gave their kids RSV?
    Not that the pandemic has affected me or anything.

  2. prefetch says:

    Adorable. Arrest-free is even more amazing given the level of tagging and stickering and general punk shenanigans. Please don't let the follow-up article be 'Local hardcore community decimated by pandemic-related infections, you remember that? The pandemic thing, still happening right now?'.

    Could make a really cool venue in the same spirit by putting some of the decomms in a field or lot: three or four cars as individual stages (one band per), one for food, one for drinks, a couple for seated hangout/chill.

  3. Eric says:

    The lesson? Don't vape on BART, you'll ruin the live music for everyone.

  4. Nate says:

    Seems like the kids are alright.

  5. 4

    So when do surprise privilege and false flag get an all-ages show at DNA?

  6. rollcat says:

    Creating a safe space is one of the reasons I really like the hardcore scene that's happening right now in the bay.

    That's not just a "happening right now" thing for hardcore, in my experience that was always its most important, defining trait.

    • thielges says:

      On the west coast at least.   Punk shows elsewhere in this country are not nearly as supportive (or at least that’s how I remember it).   Here if you get knocked to the floor, a half dozen hands reach down and you’re back on your feet in seconds.   Back east you’re on your own.   Get up quick or risk a boot landing on you.  

  7. oscar says:

    It's great to see white kids are able to do this without getting shot by BART police!

  8. Vincent Janelle says:

    We did this in Vancouver a number of years ago, but as a rave.  The skytrain staff were super supportive when they found out about it, and cordoned off the train from pickup and let it run the circuit.

  9. ratkins says:

    The UK version of this is the Circle Line party:

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