Features & Columns

San Jose Earthquakes
40th Anniversary Party
at San Pedro Square Market

Quakes mark all 40 years of their heritage at a massive anniversary party
San Jose Earthquakes 40th anniversary PartyFACTION CASUAL: Gavin O'Brien of the Faction jumps in with Lars Frederiksen of the Old Firm Casuals, to celebrate the Quakes 40th anniversary. Kind of important, since Gavin has to date refused to do anymore Faction shows, to the disappointment of everyone else. Photograph by Napoleon Badillo

Much like the C2SV conference that held its inaugural event last year, the San Jose Earthquakes 40th anniversary celebration at San Pedro Square Market was half-punk and half-technology. When understood through that lens, it perfectly embodied the spirit of Silicon Valley, a place where disruptive creativity crosses over with engineering innovation on a daily basis.

Rancid guitarist Lars Frederiksen's other band, the Old Firm Casuals, performed the Quakes' new theme song at the end of the night. Outside in the streets, team executives livestreamed the jersey-unveiling event using the Google Glass application CrowdOpt.

For the event, the Quakes went all out, as opposed to their characteristically cheapskate methods of the past. It took them four months to put together an elaborate video montage of their entire history, going all the way back to the NASL days in the 1970s, and then they projected the video on two fronts. One projection covered the western facade of the utterly hideous SunWize building just outside San Pedro Square, while another screened on the side of the Fallon House across St. John.

Without exaggeration, probably a few thousand people congregated outside on the street to watch former NASL player Johnny Moore talk about the original 1974 squad and how the current team somehow managed to carry on the working-class, never-say-die spirit of those original teams. Moore has always been the main visual connection for the current fans to the original NASL days and also the staunch proponent in trying to convince previous misguided Quakes executive administrations to acknowledge the franchise's heritage going back to 1974. When MLS began in 1996, its hokey ersatz sports executives dismissed the NASL as a failed league, which it was, and subsequently argued those days were of absolutely no importance. They were all proven wrong, of course, and San Jose, usually the dismissed market, oddly enough became the first MLS organization to officially embody a heritage from the previous generation.

Lars FrederiksenLars Frederiksen

But I digress. The team's new jersey and logo were then revealed and the crowds continued to meander in and out of the market area, where several glass cases presented paraphernalia and ephemera from the NASL days, as well as Quakes teams and subsequent units that carried on between the demise of the NASL and the launch of MLS, an important and often overlooked era. Some of the 1974 team even attended and answered questions on stage from Chris Dangerfield, another NASL Quakes star from the early '80s, and one who now does commentary for the team.

The end of the night brought everything full circle. As was hyped from the very beginning, Rancid guitarist Lars Frederiksen, who grew up with the NASL Quakes, performed with his side band, the Old Firm Casuals, in the garage bar area of San Pedro Square Market. Their tune, "Never Say Die," is now the official Quakes theme song. They even played it twice. On stage, Frederiksen talked about growing up with the NASL incarnation of the Earthquakes and how George Best once came to Lars' school in Campbell, when Best played here in 1980-81. Frederiksen also devoted one song to his deceased brother, "Rocking Rob" Dapello, without whom Lars said he would never have discovered soccer or punk rock. The capper came in the form of another surprise. Gavin O'Brien, who sang for San Jose's most famous punk band, The Faction, a group that fused skateboarding and punk 30 years ago, putting San Jose on the international map a lot more than the Quakes ever did, jumped in with the Old Firm Casuals and performed two Faction songs. O'Brien has been a staple at Quakes games since the original NASL squad started in 1974.

The entire night was probably the most "San Jose" event that I have seen around here in many years. Giant video projections, Google Glass, original 1974 players, punks, metalheads, nuclear families, beer, pizza, Irish ex-mayors comparing and contrasting themselves to Krazy George, plus a 32-channel board for the monitor mix and some of the most world-renowned local punk musicians. Other teams may have more fans in the seats, but no other team in Major League Soccer has anything remotely close to the 40-year community and family that the San Jose Earthquakes have.