Goodbye, Lookout! Records: A Tribute in 10 Songs

Categories: Appreciations
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!. 

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3 comments
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Payton_vege
Payton_vege

Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!

New York City Hotel
New York City Hotel

Wow, Thanks sfweekly for posting such a nice song collection.I really love to vist this blog because it has all latest and intrestinstuff.

Gooniestorm
Gooniestorm

i've never meet a gutter punk who listened to crimpshrine. maybe you confused them with filth, who were probably the best band lookout ever released and are absent from this list.

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