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There Was a Punk Show on BART Friday Night

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OFF THE RAILS: False Flag and Surprise Privilege managed to organize a punk show on a BART train that attracted hundreds before being shut down. (Rob Coons / Instagram)

If you live in the Bay Area, you’ve undoubtedly seen some unexpected entertainment on BART in your time. Dancers, magicians, those dudes that hang upside down from poles, drunk people. What you’ve probably never seen is a car packed to the gills with punks there to see a two-band show.

That’s exactly what happened Friday night when noisy San Francisco outfits False Flag and Surprise Privilege managed to organize a show on a blue line BART train. Having boarded at the 16th St. Mission station at 7pm, the bands rode to Dublin Pleasanton as more than 100 fans squeezed in along the way — and then, on the way back to the city, started playing.

Unbridled chaos ensued:

Round of applause for the human mic stand.


Reached by phone the next day, band members said they were surprised at the turnout for what started as “kind of a half-joke” that “we all egged each other on to do,” according to False Flag’s bassist, Pretty.

“We weren’t expecting that many people to show up,” she added. “We didn’t even know if we were gonna be able to play because the train was so packed.”

The show required a fair bit of pre-planning. On Instagram, the bands outlined a timetable of BART stops for attendees; directed them to the rear cars, away from commuters; and reminded everyone to pay their fare, stay civil and pick up after themselves.

“It’s not our intention to wreck the place or cause any kind of damage — this is meant to be fun,” they wrote. “Be respectful of each other and don’t let anyone get hurt.”

Things went awry six stations in, when the train was stalled at Fruitvale due to an obstructed door. “And BART police got on,” said Pretty, “and were just like, ‘Are you serious right now?’”

@loserlees PUNK SHOW ON BART!¡ #fyp #fypシ #punk #bayarea #sanfrancisco #DIY ♬ original sound – Lees

As shown at the end of the above clip, the show was shut down, the cars were evacuated, and at least one reveler was escorted out of the station by authorities while crowds on the platform chanted, “Let him go! Let him go!”

Cody, bassist for Surprise Privilege, said the bands still managed to play six songs each, powered by a portable battery — and noted that every band member paid their BART fare.

“All we want to do is raise as much money as possible for BART,” he said. “It’s all just a big publicity campaign to show the world how fine our state-of-the-art public transportation system is.”

BART, which rejected a 2019 proposal to ban busking on its trains, did not respond to a request for comment.

“The main reaction from the public I’ve seen is people talking about how it must have smelled really bad on the train,” said False Flag guitarist Strong. (“Which it did,” Cody added.)

While it lasted, though, the on-train show looked like a damn good time, crowd surfing and all.

For those who regret missing a historic slice of what’s known as “REAL BAY SHIT,” and hope for a sequel, the bands’ Instagram post afterward summed it up: “we’re never doing that again lol.”

How was your Friday night?

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