Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Goodbye, Lookout! Records: A Tribute in 10 Songs

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 4:30 AM

You may have heard over the last few days that Berkeley's Lookout! Records -- one of the world's most treasured punk rock labels, and the place that Green Day got its start -- is closing for good, back catalog and all. If you were a punk rocker in the '90s, this news feels a little bit like losing an old treasured friend -- possibly an old, treasured friend you've not really hung out with much lately, but one who'll always have a special place in your heart nonetheless. To mourn the end of this hugely important label, we wanted to pay tribute with a selection of our favorite Lookout! Records songs (in no particular order).

"I Wanna Be A Homosexual," Screeching Weasel

We're pretty sure this is one of the greatest punk rock songs ever written. This snotty, melodic slice of absurdist aggression called out every closet homophobe in the scene ("Why don't you admit you don't have the balls to be a queer?"), laughed at them, then loudly declared punk rock a gay-friendly zone. Screeching Weasel didn't just say homosexuality was to be accepted, they said it was to be aspired to -- and they put a smile on everyone's faces while they were at it. Absolutely brilliant.

"Eating Toothpaste," Bratmobile

By Christ, we miss riot grrrl.

"Unity," Operation Ivy

It's hard to remember sometimes that ska-punk was genuinely fucking cool at one point. And the genre owed a lot of its early street cred to Op Ivy -- the first band to shine a light on the talents of the always charismatic Tim Armstrong. His current band, Rancid, still covers this track in their live sets, and Green Day covers Op Ivy's other most-remembered song, "Knowledge," in theirs. Literally, a classic.

"Butterflies," Crimpshrine


Sloppy as all get out, but beloved by a multitude, Aaron Cometbus played drums in this band when he wasn't handwriting tales of punk rock woe in his now-renowned fanzine. Gutter punks love this stuff.

"Punk Rock Girls," The Queers

We know it's stupid and flippant, but if "Punk Rock Girls" doesn't make you want to dance like an eight-year-old at a birthday party who's high on cake, there's something wrong with you. It's just so... cute!

"Scuffle Town," Avail

Witnessing this raucous ode to Avail's Richmond, Virginia hometown, live, is one of the most joyful experiences a gig-goer can ever have. Didn't matter where, didn't matter how many people were watching, Avail kicked ass live in a manner that is fondly remembered all over the world -- and they always kicked it up an extra notch for "Scuffle Town." Sure, you came out of it with two black eyes and and a broken wrist, but you didn't care because you just saw magic happen. We miss you, Avail. Very, very much.

"Do You Wanna Hit It?" The Donnas

Once they quit going on and on endlessly about the fact that they were teenage girls, The Donnas got really eff'n likeable. All solid riffs and unshakeable sass and we-can-play-just-as-good-as-the-boys attitude (and they sure could). Thanks for bringing them to us, Lookout!.

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists

It's unlike anything else Lookout! Records ever put out, but gosh darn it, The Tyranny Of Distance is gorgeous.

"Isolation Burns," Spitboy

Articulators of female struggle, hatred of patriarchy, and the ongoing fight for equality, Spitboy were a fucking godsend for alternative women everywhere and absolutely terrifying for almost everyone else. Thanks for never sugar-coating anything, ladies. We love you.

"2000 Light Years Away," Green Day

Imagine for a moment what might have happened had Lookout! Records not released the first two Green Day records. What if no one else had signed them? What if they hadn't been picked up by a major to release Dookie? What if Green Day was removed from the last eighteen years in music? What if American Idiot had never happened? *Shudder*. Doesn't bear thinking about, but the musical landscape (especially the punk one) would look very different indeed. Thank you Lookout!. 


Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, follow Rae Alexandra @Raemondjjjj, and like us at

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

About The Author

Rae Alexandra


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"