A very special moment happened at the San Jose concert the other night for a super cool woman. Billie Joe serenaded a lady who saved me a spot on the line and at the barrier in San Antonio. She’s an admin at Green Day Community and has been to ten Green Day shows so far this year including the secret shows in NYC and will be at ROCKTOBER as well. She’s at the point in life where she is taking a Green Day holiday after some tough years and regularly finds very cool sunglasses and scarves and whatnots for BJA during songs such as “King for a Day” and “St. Jimmy.” Her name is J’net and she totally deserves what happened to her in San Jose.
This is also the first time on the actual U.S. tour that Green Day has performed Mother Mary or any FBHT songs in full. It’s a capella. Sweet.
August 21st, 2009 at 7:31 pm
I think it’s great when Green Day pick out random fans to become a part of the show, and it’s great they do it so much and in so many ways. It’s a vicarious thrill and participation for everyone, and a way for all to share in the lovefest.
But when they single out “special” fans, and I’ve seen them do that on a number of occasions, I think it’s wrong. It doesn’t suit their larger spirit of inclusiveness and mass-love. What makes it worse is that so many fans are always greedily looking for just that, for some reason to brag about being special, and then when the band feeds right into it it’s pretty dismaying.
Being a fan is about giving up your ego and joining in the mass hysteria. It’s not about bragging rights.
August 21st, 2009 at 8:47 pm
Hmm… but the nature of being a fan is attention. I don’t mind them picking out ‘special’ fans, whether it’s the girl who he noticed in San Antonio or the guy in Albany who gave him scarves and boas, or the girl who he told was beautiful in Salt Lake City. I’m not sure there is a difference between one fan being picked for Jesus of Suburbia or one fan being picked to be sung to. A girl in San Diego was almost run over by one of Billie’s security, and Billie gave her a kiss. I think it’s just levels of intensity the interaction between fan and band.
I must say that I was thrilled with the things that he took from me, and I consider it the same level of vicarious thrill and participation that is afforded by playing Knowledge or singing Longview.
I do understand where you’re coming from, I just think these moments add a lot to the dynamic of interaction that both the audience and the band have with each other.
I will also say that she didn’t brag about it either. I did the bragging for her! 🙂
August 22nd, 2009 at 3:20 pm
I guess I just have a diametrically opposite point of view. Being a fan is certainly not about getting the band’s attention. If it were, then the whole being-a-fan thing would turn into a stampede, which it sadly has already done to a large degree, and that’s far and away the most unpleasant and disturbing aspect of going to a Green Day concert. No, being a fan is about the passionate appreciation of the music and the band’s performances. It’s not about being a stalker/groupie/etc. looking for some tidbit of acknowledgment.
The only distinction I’m making between “special” fans and other fans who get some special moment is that it’s okay with me when fans are singled out randomly, because they become a stand-in for any fan, which is where the vicarious enjoyment comes in: you see someone else doing something and you can appreciate that they are like you and you are experiencing it with them. But it’s not okay in my book when someone is singled out as being somehow more of a fan or deserving of special attention.
If she didn’t brag about this then she is the first and I commend her…
Also, I find the whole bringing-props-to-be-noticed thing to be just really icky, tbh. And it’s really getting old. I think it’s sweet that Billie Joe accepts it, he’s sort of like the kindergarten teacher smiling on his flock, but that doesn’t mean it behooves the fans to so calculatingly engage in it.
I really can’t stand being a Green Day fan. 🙂 I love the band but I can’t stand the fans.
August 22nd, 2009 at 3:31 pm
Haha, tell me how you really feel! 🙂
Delfina, I think I actually see Green Day more from a theatrical perspective than a musical one. Yes, I think their music is grand, but what adds a specialness to me is those props and the interaction, a feeling that almost *anything* can happen at a Green Day show and usually does.
In the theater, as you know, one of the grand principles is the fourth wall. I think I’ve written about it before when it comes to Green Day. I’ve seen a lot of theater and music, but rarely have I seen an effective way of battering the wall between audience and performer and it excites the part of me that studied experimental theater.
It’s funny, too. And truthfully, fun.
Anyway, I think everyone has their perspective on the band, their own priorities regarding the band, I suppose. I think someone should write a dissertation on it. Haha.
August 23rd, 2009 at 11:09 am
Thanks for your reply and sorry for being a bitch. 🙂 Being a Green Day fan has really just worn me down… I’ve been at it for 15 years now and maybe I’m a little weary of the fan dynamics, especially with so many people wanting to be special instead of just accepting that the band has millions of fans and none are any more special than any other.
I agree completely with what you’re saying about breaking down the barriers between performance and audience. That’s a staple of punk rock shows, where it’s exercised much more fully than Green Day ever could do, because they’re dealing with huge arenas, security barricades etc.
At a punk rock show there really is no distinction between performers and audience, and the audience is often invited to just mob the stage (sometimes there’s no stage at all). But there is also no hero-worship, so band and fans truly are equal, and no one is looking to stand out or be noticed by the band members, which is the crucial factor that in my view makes Green Day audiences so unpleasant, competitive, and grabby. Punk rock audiences are just one big happy pile of goo. 😉
And I’d be happy to write a dissertation… I think it’s already written in my mind. 🙂
August 23rd, 2009 at 11:47 am
You’re welcomed for the reply! I am loving the conversation, I welcome it all except for “Green Day Blows” comments, then I’d have to set people straight. Luckily, that hasn’t happened… yet.
It’s very true about the dynamics of the punk audiences and bands. I’m so involved with the band due to its theatrical performance dynamics, that I sometimes forget about the punk dynamics, which borrow a lot of their origins in common, methinks. At the same time, it’s one of the reasons why I do love punk and experimental theater… both use a bit of anarchy in their approaches to the materials at hand.
I understand about the equality affect also, but by the nature of successful performance, some bands are bound to rise above and develop hero-worship status and fans who want their attention. And bands also desire to stand up and be noticed, even if they are punk… they wouldn’t be in a band, really, if it weren’t so.
I’ve been to many a punk show where the dynamic between audience and band is certainly of “the one” nature, but it’s great fun to see Green Day translate that punk dynamic to a big stage. Kudos to them.
I’m sure after 15 years of fan dynamics, there’s bound to be some weariness involved. I do sometimes wish for more profound talk about the band at some forums, but one does occasionally get postings like that, but on the whole, it is a lot of girl talk. Haha. But it runs the gamut and I think GD would be like, “‘WTF are you talking about, “profound”?’, and I am fully aware that each fan has its own priorities when it comes to the band. Again, I don’t mind those extra special moments for fans, but I understand the point of view.
August 23rd, 2009 at 11:58 am
You know, you’re making me think that maybe I’ve turned into a fangirl… OMG! I need a lobotomy! hahahaha….. this will not stand! 🙂
August 23rd, 2009 at 12:26 pm
Delfina, here’s a review of the Las Vegas show that touches a bit on what you saying, but its more about the interaction between the band and fans. He feels it’s too much. http://www.lvrj.com/news/54183357.html
August 23rd, 2009 at 2:02 pm
I’d like to add some thoughts here:
I love Green Day’s music, and I think they put on an amazing show. That’s why I’m there. I’ve never sought attention, and I have just as much fun at shows where I don’t get special attention as I do at shows where I do – sometimes more – each show has its special moments for me, and they don’t necessarily have anything to do with the band interacting with me. I’m truly there to enjoy the music and the show, and I do think the band has started to notice that and appreciate it. I have no camera or cell phone in my hand – ever. I just listen, sing along and enjoy myself.
I understand your argument, delfina, but I can’t agree that it’s okay for the band to choose a random fan to give attention to but not a fan whose loyalty and enjoyment they have noticed again and again. I honestly don’t mind if they don’t notice me, but if they do, what’s wrong with letting me know that they appreciate my support?
I took sunglasses to the Webster Hall show because I was walking down a street in NYC on the way to the show, and these bright pink glasses just jumped out at me. They reminded me of the Foxboro shows, and I thought, “Billie would enjoy those if we get close enough for him to see them.” When I take stuff, it’s for that reason. I never throw anything at him. If I take something, I just wear it. If he asks me for it, I toss it to him, but I never stand there begging him all the way through the show to take-this-offering-that-I-came-to-lay-at-your-feet-because-you’re-my-god like some I’ve seen. I bring something for him if I happen to see something that I think he’d enjoy.
Often, I forget I even have something on, and I’m surprised when Billie asks me for it. In San Jose, he asked me for those yellow glasses that I had on top of my head. I was delighted that he sang Mother Mary for me. It was a rare and beautiful gift. I didn’t deserve it any more than any other fan in the arena, and I very much appreciate that fact.
I don’t think Billie is just putting up with fans bringing him stuff. I think most of the time, he does enjoy it. I took him a long, slinky scarf in Vancouver, and I still remember the visual of him swinging it around over his head during King for a Day. The boy was having all kinds of fun, and I enjoyed watching it. Of course, there may be times when he takes something just to be nice, but I don’t think that happens very often. I think he enjoys the dress-up part of the show.
I have come to think of Green Day as almost like a part of my family. I’m proud of them as I would be if they were my brothers or nephews. I enjoy interacting with them because I like them. I have never asked for nor do I expect attention, and I don’t think it makes me special when I occasionally get it. I think Billie tries to achieve the impossible – to personally connect with every fan in the arena. I think he works very hard to be fair in the way he hands out his attention, and I don’t expect he’ll ever show me that kind of attention again – but I’m still going to go and enjoy all the shows I’m able to get to.
And greendaymind, I also have to disagree about the nature of being a fan necessarily involving a desire for attention from the band. I do feel happy when I get attention from them – just as I feel happy when some of my special fan friends show me attention in line or when I get an email from someone I haven’t heard from in a long time. For me, being a fan is about connection – that connection I feel when I’m sitting at home listening to a lyric that stabs me through the heart, or the one I feel when someone in the forums says something that I completely identify with about one of the band’s songs, or the one I feel when I make eye contact with someone on the other side of the catwalk whose face is shining with joy and I realize mine is, too. And then there’s also that connection I feel when I connect with one of the band members. I was just as pleased when Jeff Matika gave me a little wave and a smile in San Jose as I was when Billie singled me out. It just intensified that connection that I feel with everyone who’s a part of making or appreciating Green Day’s music.
Having said all this, I understand your frustration, delfina. I have seen people waving scarves or other items throughout the entire show trying to get Billie to notice them – or worse – throwing things on stage that someone might trip over. I have seen people crying because he didn’t notice them. I see people on the rail with cell phones in front of their faces at every show. In my opinion, they don’t deserve a spot on the rail. If all they want is a bunch of photos of Green Day performing live – they should stay home and surf the web! If they’re not going to enjoy the show that is taking place right in front of their eyes, why are they even there?
I could probably rant on for hours on this topic, so I’ll just stop now. I don’t think I’m a typical Green Day fan, so I’m not trying to say every fan is like me. I’m just talking about my own feelings and motivations, and – as always for me – it felt good to put them into words, because it helped me to think them through more thoroughly than I’ve done before.
August 24th, 2009 at 3:19 pm
J’net, I agree with what you’re saying. The things you mention are the same kinds of things that I’m also talking about. I don’t doubt your sincerity and your love for the band, nor do I mean to pick on you, since, like you said, there is a lot of attention-seeking from the fans, but I do think it’s a bit disingenuous to say that you didn’t bring the props to the shows in order to be noticed. Yes, of course Billie Joe enjoys the props, but it’s not to do him a favor that people bring them. They bring them hoping he will see them and they will get a bit of interaction. I don’t think that’s some awful, terrible thing to admit to. I appreciate Tanya’s (greendaymind’s) candor when she says that yes, she hopes to get the band’s attention.
The problem I have with the band showing attention to “a fan whose loyalty and enjoyment they have noticed again and again” is that there are hundreds of thousands of others who have an equal amount of loyalty and enjoyment but who can’t show it to the band, either because they can’t get to a concert, or many concerts, or because they just aren’t savvy enough about how to show their appreciation in the right way. There were two young girls near me at a recent concert. One of them gave Billie Joe a tiny stuffed animal, and he put it in his pocket. Another girl tried to give him a bra with some stuff written on it, and he ignored. She just wasn’t savvy enough to know that he would be unlikely to acknowledge or accept a bra. The same goes for people who are shy, awkward, don’t want to or can’t handle staking out a spot in the front, etc.
When you say “I can’t agree that it’s okay for the band to choose a random fan to give attention to but not a fan whose loyalty and enjoyment they have noticed again and again,” that does sound like you think you got the attention you did because you deserved it. And it’s not that you didn’t, but so did hundreds of thousands of others, and that’s why I don’t like the band singling anyone out (except when it’s done randomly). I’ve seen them do it other times, and often it was for people who actually weren’t particularly deserving but who were just pushy (I’m not saying that applies to you).
August 24th, 2009 at 6:43 pm
While I would normally relish a conversation such as this with intelligent grown ups, I’ve decided I don’t want to sour what is a spontaneously, almost innocently joyful experience by over-analyzing it. So, I’ll leave the field to the two of you :).
August 24th, 2009 at 7:10 pm
Thanks, J’net, I understand where you’re coming from. I was so spontaneously happy for you that I wanted to share it, what a great experience, and truthfully, it was wonderful to know that it happen to a really great person! Sorry if it became a discussion about the varying points of view of fandom.
And thanks, Delfina, it’s always good to hear things that stir the mind!
I want to make clear that when I say that I intentionally sought the attention of the band with the little things I brought is because I am quite involved in giant spectacles whether it’s dressing as Andi Warhol with groups of friends just for the hell of it, or participating in New York’s Idiotarod (grocery carts become sleds and raced through NYC) or marching dressed as the rich for political protests with the Billionaires for Bush satirical protest group, so I am deeply involved with the theme of grand play. So when an opportunity arose to bring things, and see what sort of spontaneity occured, it was a real treat for that side of me. That’s one of the most fascinating things about GD for me, their overwhelming willingness to play… and I love to do it really big! haha. I can’t even express how happy it makes me feel.
And I also want to make clear that yes, I do want to meet them but I want to work for them. I’ll be honest, I want to be their archivist. Hey, a girl can dream, yes, and should every day!?
Anyway, I did say to someone at the GDC recently that everyone has their own priorities and perspectives on these guys. I think there comes a point when it’s probably best to agree to disagree and leave it at that.