40,000 Twelve-Year-Olds On A BART Train
All day long, it seemed Live 105 (KITS 105.3 FM, that is) was blasting Green Day songs "live" from SBC park, heralding a concert to start a few hours later. At one point the DJ mentioned that some tickets were still for sale, and I was surprised it wasn't sold out, but later he said 40,000 people were expected to show up. He cryptically referred to a sea of twelve-year-olds wearing red ties and eye-liner, but not having followed either Green Day's 16 year ascent in punk rock nor its current fan-base, I didn't think much of it.
Getting on a train to the East Bay at the Embarcadero BART Station tonight I wished I had paid more attention. I've left San Francisco by BART after huge signature events like Gay Pride, anti-war protests, Halloween and the like. I have never looked at a train and seriously considered just not even trying to get on it. At the last moment I dashed in and felt the doors brushing my back as they closed behind me. I was standing directly under the nose of a man who chastely closed his eyes and kept very still. He was probably terrified of knocking into any one of the handful of adolescents jammed into all sides of him; we were easily the oldest passengers near the door by a decade or more. The quickly depleting air supply stank of fruity perfume and sweat, bubble gum and cigarette smokers, sugar candy and alcohol. Down the aisle two pairs of obviously middle aged parents loudly analyzed the set-lists and bass skills of the three bands while clutching their chest-high children, who were all decked in Green Day gear.
Like I said, I'm only passingly familiar with Green Day's oeuvre, but I do vaguely remember when they were the edgy punk rock friends' cool, somewhat older, college-age siblings listened to, beyond the taste of most high school seniors, let alone freshmen. Live 105 played a clip of lead singer Billy Joe reminiscing on flyering to get people to shows, and describing the band's flavor as a cross between The Ramones and U2. Since when do parents take their children to see a cross between The Ramones and U2?! Isn't that what Kelly Clarkson and Britney Spears are for?
Of course San Francisco also hosted an anti-war protest and the Love Parade today; I don't know whether to be relieved or disappointed that none of the sea of children were going home from those events.