It is not often that I say this, but Billie Joe Armstrong is fucking embarrassing! The Green Day frontman, who just went viral the accidental way, has checked into rehab for substance abuse following a public meltdown at the I Heart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas. And I’m annoyed as hell about it.
Green Day has been on a downward trend for me lately. They were cool when I was young, but then they went and got all legitimate and did their political rock opera, “American Idiot.” Critically, this was maybe the high point of their career, but I don’t take my political advice from rock stars any more than I take my ball-scratching advice from women. I want my rock stars to RAWK! I want guitars smashed, the word “fuck” to be screamed in arenas full of impressionable children, and I want drummers generally be complete wild bastards. I want my rock bands to all be accused of being devil worshippers, and I want them all to do precious little in dispelling that notion. It is my right as an American to root for the savage antics of ill-bred rock! Admitting you have a substance abuse problem and entering rehab is not RAWK! For more confirmation on this notion, see the pussification of former RAWK band Metallica in the documentary “Some Kind of Monster.” Be prepared to delete all of your Metallica music after you do though.
Suddenly, this video of Billie Joe Armstrong going postal about the amount of time his band has left to play was all over the Internet. And I was liking me some Green Day again. Now that Billie Joe, or more likely his publicist, has seen the “error” of his ways, I’m off them again. But for one glorious moment, a little leaked technology reunited us over the phrase, “I’m not fucking Justin Bieber, you motherfuckers!”The “Record” feature on smartphones has completely redeemed concert rock after it first threatened to destroy it with the invent of the digital Zippo or its precursor — just holding your lame ass phone and its lame ass glowing screen aloft in place of a real lighter. I’m only gonna say it once: power ballads require fire. “Record,” though, has enabled a rock renaissance in the true spirit of Woodstock. Every crazed thing that happens at rock concerts (and in your van after them) can now be in the public domain completely free of convenience charges. Take that, Ticketmaster!
Technology, which threatened to destroy the music industry is now helping to prop it back up, not only with a more balanced profit model (iTunes), but with YouTube and smartphones working in tandem to show us every pissy meltdown or public shaming in music. When Creed frontman Scott Stapp was too drunk to perform, smartphones were there. When Lady Gaga recently blazed a fat spliff on stage, smartphones were there. And when Billie Joe Armstrong took extreme umbrage with the I Heart Music Festival cutting short his band’s play time in order to maximize Rihanna’s set, by God, smartphones were there.
I’m prepared to concede that maybe the Green Day singer’s health and mental well-being is perhaps larger than my expectations of rock music (or even pop punk as some of the Pitchfork knobjobs doubtlessly term it), but he’d better be prepared to concede that he’s playing a concert where he’s opening for Rihanna. And that isn’t exactly RAWK either.