Green Day’s new live album “Awesome as Fuck” is out next week. Seventeen of the songs are streaming at NME. It’s available only in the US and UK, but someone from Canada was able to listen to it, too. The official release date is 4/22/11 but there are two special pre-orders right now, an album version from Adeline Records in pink vinyl with a nice T-shirt (releasing 4/26) or the CD/DVD combination from Interpunk records with a nice poster (releasing 4/22)! Interpunk suggests that you buy a poster tube to keep your poster safe in transit. The record released in some South American and European countries already, and a live screening of the DVD portion of the video happened in select European theaters this week.
It’s great to have Green Day back as a band with the new live album, but I’ve also been thinking about the various people that make up the Green Day band of friends… Foxboro Hot Tubs, Pinhead Gunpowder, the Frustrators, even the Network… who do it for the love of music! Yea, I know, they really aren’t “those other bands” but, y’know… whatever. Billie Joe tweeted the other day that he, Mike, Tre, and Jason White were piddling around in the studio the other day. I can’t wait to hear what they’ve been working on! These guys never stop playing music.
If we’re lucky here in New York, maybe we’ll get some awesome small shows when Billie Joe ends his run as St. Jimmy in American Idiot as it sadly closes next month. He’ll be coming back to the show for the final weeks, from April 5-April 24. (The one-year anniversary of the Broadway show run is April 20th.) It would be awesome if Pinhead Gunpowder played in New York City. Come on guys! You can do it! I’d take some Foxboro Hot Tubs, some Frustrators, and heck, even a surprised appearance by the Network, too. Where ever they may be!
In honor of this band of friends who make great music together, Violeta Kalfova created a banner to honor all of the bands.
Green Day and Friends - Banner by Violeta Kalfova
Foxboro Hot Tubs – (Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool, Mike Dirnt, Jason White, Kevin Preston, [Jason Freese]) – xGeneralxS (Don Hill’s, New York, NY 4/18/10)
Back in the Day... Bored in the USA - Frustrators 2000
I’m not going to try and fool you. I knew nothing about The Frustrators two years ago. Lately, I’ve been on a kick to find out more about their lore, but, I’ve been too lazy to really delve deeply into the disturbing and tragic backstory of the band. OK, it’s not really disturbing or tragic, but it’s fun to say that it is. They actually seem to be a strangely well-adjusted band. Weird.
I’ve spent many seconds over the last couple of years on their Facebook page talking with fan folks, and it’s been a blast chatting. Everyone is funny. Mostly. But while it’s been a lot of fun talking with other fans, there hasn’t been much talk about the band’s past… Probably because it’s locked somewhere deep inside the sordid bunker… but… more than likely it’s because they don’t have a webpage up at the moment and hadn’t put a record out for such a long time that not many were still around who remembered their ancient lore. I hear that in the dark, distant past there was a website, with a message board and all sorts of stuff like that, but at the moment, it’s disappeared down the rabbit hole of the Internet.
Luckily, before the band heads back into the bunker, a website is on its way and there’s a lot of talk lately, as the Frustrators completed their first tour in nine years last month. Everyone is really excited that lead singer/designer Jason Chandler and their friend, Greg Schneider, are editing a DVD of the band that Greg shot during the week-long tour! This is very exciting news! The band has requested that if you have any photos or video footage of the recent shows that you think the band might like to include in the DVD, please email them at email@example.com.
I haven’t heard news of what Art and Terry are up to lately, but Mike seems to be recording these days in Oakland with his other side project band that goes by the name of Green Day (see Billie Joe Armstrong’s @bjaofficial twitter today for news on that).
Did someone say contest?
A few weeks ago I mentioned on my post about the Frustrators show at Gilman and on the @GreenDayMind Twitter that I’d be giving away a copy of the band’s new EP release, Griller. Well, I was supposed to do that last week, and oops, I had a birthday along the way, so I completely forgot… oops again. But now I’m ready to give it out! I have a Frustrators logo bag to give away, too! So, one person will get the CD and the other person will get the bag. Sorry that I don’t have more to give out, but if this works well, I might be tempted to try my hand at contests again in the future. So, be kind and gentle since this is my first time conducting a contest on my own. I apologize in advance for anything that will go awry. I did work as a researcher for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Regis Philbin edition, way back in the day, but that doesn’t mean that this will run smoothly the first time out!
Prize #1: Stanley... coming soon to your house if you are the first to answer these questions. See you there, baby!
So here are the rules: A) You have one week from today until Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 at midnight to answer the questions below. B) Please copy and paste the questions below into an email and write your answers to the questions under each individual question. C) I have two items to give away: one Griller CD and one Frustrators felt backpack-type bag. So, two people will win one item each. D) You have to be the first (you get the CD) and second persons (you get the bag) to send in correct answers to all of the questions below. E) Send your answers with the Subject Line “Frustrators Contest #1” to: GreenDayMind@gmail.com. F) Include your name. G) Include your answers.
Prize #2: Frustrators Felt BackPack Bag
All of the questions below may be found on the Internet in various places. I will mail stuff outside of the Continental United States, but, I won’t like it. But, I will do it. So, have fun, and good luck!
The Frustrators have four songs/EPs/Albums on the Adeline Records label. What are the four Adeline numbers of these recordings?
The band had two potential names before settling on “The Frustrators.” Name one of the potential names.
Name the Frustrator who sculpted the zombie version of Stanley the Chicken which appears on: the cover of the Griller 7″ vinyl, inside the CD fold-out, and on the t-shirt worn by Mike during the tour? (See Mike in the shirt below.)
Which two Frustrators members played with Green Day on an episode of Mad TV?
The animated cartoon character in the tease leak to the song, “Prettiest Girl” has a name. What is it?
Did the Frustrators play their first ever live gig at 924 Gilman?
What year did their first live performance take place?
What two legendary and well-known venues besides 924 Gilman did the Frustrators play in 2001?
From which European country does a rock surf band named “The Frustrators” come from?
Within the last week, The Frustrators posted Youtube videos on their Facebook page of several young bands covering Frustrators songs. Name one of the bands, the country that they come from, and the song that they covered.
What is the name of the upcoming album by Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits that Jason Chandler designed the album cover for?
Name one other band that Mike Dirnt has recorded with that is not Green Day, the Network, the Foxboro Hot Tubs or the Frustrators.
Who sculpted Zombie Stanley that appears on Mike's chest? Photo: Kerry Harris
Frustrators at Gilman - Pillow Stuffing? Where did that come from? - Photo by Kerry Harris
I’m sure you’ve been holding your breath wondering if I made it to the East Bay to see the Frustrators. As I wrote earlier, the trip wasn’t working out financially. However, luck and confluence happened and I was able to scrape together the funds from donations to go. If you were following my Green Day Mind Twitter feed, I shared some snaps and whatnot of the four Frustrators gigs from 2/18-2/24 at 924 Gilman in Berkeley, the Phoenix in Petaluma, the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco, and the Phenomenaut’s Command Center in Oakland. The Frustrators were joined by some amazing East Bay and Los Angeles-based bands as well as the legendary New York City-based crusty punks, Star Fucking Hipsters. I also got to see Prince in Oakland, too.
Extra Special Thanks to Christian!
Thank you, Shannon, Mel, Mary, David, Eileen, and most especially, Christian, for your help. I’ve got a couple of Frustrators buttons and one Jason Chandler-created show flyer for each of you who helped as a small token of my appreciation. Needless to say, it was one of those weeks filled with music and great people, as well as some hardcore injuries that I suffered, including a thrice-stomped on pinkie toe at Gilman (most likely targeted by vicious Gilman waifs, lol), a bum back, and a black eye. Yep… I got punched in the face at the Frustrators’ last East Bay show at the Command Center. All I can say is… what a wonderful time it was… oh and as usual, this post is long. Deal with it!
Get Me to the Gilman on Time
Frustrators at Gilman - 2/18/11 - Flyer by Jason Chandler
Getting to the East Bay could have been more stressful than it was. In fact, it was beginning to look that way as the Frustrators gigs were planned around the President’s Day holiday on 2/21, and that means a three-day weekend which means the ridership of airplanes goes up triple-fold and the stand-by seats that I fly on go down by as much. As the time to fly got nearer (2/18), the standby seats diminished, as would my hopes of going to the shows if something quite strange hadn’t happened. The Sunday before I was to leave, a friend sent me a message saying she dreamt about me hugging someone in greeting with sheer joy in seeing that person or persons again. She apparently often has such dreams, but usually they come with a more ominous nature to them, and she relayed that the dream was one of the happiest that she had ever had about people. I took it as a sign that I would get out to California, but exactly when was another story.
I was fifth of five on the standby list for the 6:50 AM flight out of Newark airport. The direct flight ended up being late, full, and re-directed from a direct flight to a refueling stop in Denver due to strong headwinds in the Southwest. I moved up to fourth on the standby list after the original fourth dude stormed off when told that the flight was full instead of waiting until the airplane doors closed, the real final say to not getting on the plane. This turned out to be the luckiest move of the day. Though there were chances of flights connecting through Houston to San Francisco, or waiting for the next direct flight, I didn’t want to think about that possibility, so I hoped for this flight. The gruff desk folks grumbled their way through the passenger list (they were having a rough morning due to the delays and such). They finally got to the standby list… and called the very last name… mine. I hopped up, got my boarding pass, talked with the other stand-byers on how lucky we were, stored my bag, sat in my pretty good seat, and promptly fell asleep.
The flight was non-eventful and smooth despite the weather and the stop in Denver. We got to San Francisco Airport a little than it was originally due, and being San Francisco, it was rainy and cold when we landed. I took the BART from the airport to the Alamo Car Rental place on Mission, where I rented a deposit-less car for 1/2 the price than at the airport. It was a cute little economy powerless steering Ford that got me around the Bay perfectly for $221 for six days with insurance. My R/T airfare was $210. I stayed with friends. I ate at Burger King. At lot.
I plugged my iPhone into the car’s audio system, blasted the Frustrators’ Griller, got my bearings and as I drove across the Bay Bridge, I started to cry a little bit. The tensions of the week, despite the happy and encouraging dream of my friend, overwhelmed me, as did the beauty of the Bay. The East Bay is where I want to die one day, so it’s always hard to visit knowing that I’ll have to eventually leave.
I arranged to meet them around 4:00 at the Pyramid, the bar/restaurant across the street from 924 Gilman, that night’s show venue. It was still raining out but there were about 20 people standing in line for the 7:00 PM doors to open. I grabbed a table inside, ordered a quesadilla and a beer and waited for Michelle and Nicole. They finally arrived, along with Nicole’s friend, Elizabeth, a New Jersey transplant now living in the Bay area, and we talked about our trips, laughed and got drunk since you can’t get drunk in the no-alcohol Gilman venue. As time wore on, other people who I’ve met on my Green Day adventures came through to use the bathroom, including Jordan, Beth S. Hannah and Lulu, who all live in California. It was great to see them.
Part of the Gang
We eventually paid our bill and headed to line up about 6:30. There I saw Amber from Tennessee, ToniAnn, Fallyn and Mary from New York, Tony from England, Doc Kerry and the Aussies, and Justin, who now happily lives in the Bay after escaping the confines of Utah. It was freezing, but the doors finally opened, and the losers like me bought our monthly cards for Gilman while the cool kids already with cards lined up to pay for their tickets in another line. There was a short kid about the age of 12 helping sell member cards, who kept making snide remarks about the new people, in essence, snide remarks about Green Day. It got to the point where I just wanted to punch his little face in, but hey, the sign on the door does say something about no violence, so I made a few snide comments under my breath. He was showing his elitism and arrogance, two traits that I’ve found are way too prevalent at Gilman for me, and I was so tired that I had no patience for some child’s crap. I must remember that Gilman is stupid like that and move on. It’s a great place with a bad attitude.
Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits - Photo by Michelle Lawlor
All of the Frustrators shows from the Bay to LA held a bevy of talented bands and acts. I was impressed with each night’s lineups and all of it was due to one incredible guy, Corbett Redford III, of Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits. He put together four nights of great bands at wonderful venues and he and Dan Abbott of Bobby Joe Ebola were MCs to each night’s show. The fantastic lineups were primarily local California bands from the Bay and Los Angeles with the exception of New York’s Star Fucking Hipsters. The bands ranged from young punks like Disabled Intent, the Pillowfights, and Emily’s Army to mid-known bands like the Bombpops, Mystic Knights of the Cobra and Bryan McPherson to more well-known names such as the Billybones, Kepi Ghoulie, and of course, the Phenomenauts and a special appearance by Jesse Michaels with Classics of Love. Major kudos to Corbett for his putting together the week’s lineups and herding a bunch of punks, both not easy tasks, by far, to do.
For this night’s show, the first band up, Disabled Intent, impressed me from the word “go” with their young chops. The lead singer/bassist was very engaging and they did an amazing cover of Cee-Lo Green’s “Fuck You” that completely worked and held the audience enthralled. I wish I had taped it as the song is one of my favorites from last year, and the band translated it well to the punk format.
Sometime after their set, I started to look around for one of my favorite all-time people, Jason Chandler, lead singer of the night’s headlining Frustrators. Chandler created the “Rocktober” logo for the giant meet-up of Green Day fans that happened in England during their tour leg through Europe. I had gotten my Rocktober (which technically doesn’t refer to that band but to “Godzilla Doesn’t Understand Korean,” uh…) hat to wear at the two O2 shows in London. I wore it the last time I went to Gilman to see PHGP, losing it in the crowd at one point only to find it bedraggled outside the venue, across the street and under a car. Once the Frustrators started talking about making a new record, I asked him if I could write about it, and have continued to write about them since. The irony and wit of Frustrator’s lyrics speaks volumes to me and I always get a good laugh on their Facebook page as well. I met up with him in San Francisco when I was there for an extended trip last September. We sat and talked and laughed for a little bit in a bar early in the morning and drank Irish coffee while watching some tourists’ illegally and just-parked car get towed by the police. Good times.
Frustrators - BillyBones Tour Shirt - Design by Otis Link
I didn’t see him as I made my way to the merch table, where I eyed not only the great merch created by Chandler for the Frustrators, but also the tour shirt that the Billybones band had made for their Frustrators/Billybones tour. I coveted it from the moment that I saw it on the Billybones’ Facebook page. Don’t get me wrong, I coveted a lot of the other merch, too, particularly Chandler’s t-shirt and hat designs, but there was something about “The Credibility of Stupid” shirt (if I heard correctly, the title of the Billybones’ upcoming album), that spoke volumes to me. There were only 96 of them made, too. I bought one and headed out the back door of Gilman to put it in my car.
Outside, people and band entourages were gathered under a tent to smoke and shoot the shit, but there was no sign of the Frustrators that I could see around. They had come earlier in the day to unload their stuff and weren’t back yet. I stored stuff in the car and then back into Gilman, stopping to warm up under the giant heater near the front door. I headed toward the merch table again when, I saw him! The J-Man Grilla Gorilla himself, Jason! He looked up and saw me, too, and the hug I got was probably one of the best hugs I’ve ever had in my life. Warm, friendly, funny, and full of love, particularly when I told him that our good friends from across the Big Pond in England who have known him through Frustrators forums and Facebook for many more years than I have, but have never gotten the chance to meet him, Netty, Lis, and Sharon, wanted me to give him a giant monkey hug from them, too. My friend’s dream from earlier in the week of greeting someone in sheer joy and happiness had completely come true.
Jason and the Aussies - Photo: Kerry Harris
Weird and wonderful. This tour was like that for everyone. The Frustrators, Mike, the giant “we worship you” rockstar, Terry, the crazy-eyed shredder guitarist, Art, the quiet power and not-feeling-well drummer and Jason, the reluctant-but-loving-it frontman, opened up their hearts and love for music, laughter, small venues, and people throughout the Bay tour. They were so damned happy to play together again after such a long hiatus that it was infectious, like a disease. If I had to choose a name for the entire portion of the tour that I followed, it would have to be something like “Frustrators Love of Fun Disease Tour 2011” or some variation thereof.
We talked for a moment about how nervous he was. It had been a long time since he sang in front of an audience, and from previous conversations, he was concerned about whether his voice would hold up throughout the week. I felt a little awkward trying to avoid an impending fangirl moment, so I left him there as the next band, The Pillowfights, were about to start. They were cute and quirky, and as their name implies, they brought pillows to… uh… fight with. They threw them out into the audience, and it was funny, but I don’t know if they were prepared for what happened next: the waifs of Gilman tore their pillows apart, leaving them in shreds with pillow stuffing all over the place, on the stage, on the floor, even hanging from the ceiling. Oh Gilman, slay those pillows!
The Pillowfights – “Talk Shit Get Hit” – 924 Gilman 2/18/11 – Bring them new pillows at their next show – See request on their Facebook page.
Next up was Emily’s Army, whose drummer is some famous dude’s son, but really, every time I see this band play (it was my second time, the first being at The Bowery Electric in April 2009), I am impressed by how that doesn’t matter. These guys get tighter and tighter as a band and as performers, and as I’ve written before, I look forward to their potential long careers in the music industry.
Emily’s Army – 924 Gilman 2/18/11 – And the pillow stuffing keeps flying joined by toilet paper!
Emily's Army - 924 Gilman - 2/18/11 - Photo by Michelle Lawlor
Mike - Just Hangin' - Photo: Kerry Harris
Their set was vibrant and the Green Day fans and Gilman waifs alike were having a giant mosh fit, and yes, there was pillow stuffing still all over the place joined by toilet paper. Their set ended and folks milled around again and at some point Mike jumped behind the merch table to sell stuff and talk with the fans. Unlike back at Gilman when Billie Joe performed with PHGP, there was a much more relaxed atmosphere around him, a tentativeness at first from fans to go up and speak with him, but the longer he stayed there, the more people came up to talk with him. Like Billie Joe at Gilman, the vibe that he gave off was not a superstar’s vibe, but one of genuine down-homeyness, a mellowness that attracted even moreso than his newly dyed-hot pink hair, which shined like a beacon everywhere he went.
The Billybones were up next and I had never seen them perform. I met the lead singer, Steven William Fortuna, aka Billy Bones, very briefly when I ran into Kevin Preston of Prima Donna and him at Green Day’s show in Irvine. He certainly looked like the seasoned punk rock star who’s been around since the late-1970s when he was in one of Los Angeles’s first punk bands, The Skulls. Kevin not only was in a 2000 formation of the Skulls, but also produced the Billybones’ 2008 7″ We’re Selfish. I was sitting and talking with Elizabeth when Billy Bones and his band walked into Gilman before their set, and Billy, who was probably one of the oldest people at Gilman, really stood out in the crowd. He had the air of punk legend about him because, well, y’know, he is a legend, and still rocks out, giving a dynamic performance that stirred the crowd up to no end. Sadly, there’s no video footage that I can find of the band from Gilman. But Michelle Lawlor of Lucky 17 Photography captured them perfectly through her photos at her blog.
Eight Years is a Long Time…
Frustrators - 924 Gilman - 2/18/11 Photo by Michelle Lawlor
If the headlining band was nervous, they didn’t show it. As the Frustrators got ready to perform onstage together in front of an audience for the first time in eight years, what was there to be nervous about? Well, a lot, but the excitement in the room compensated for any nerves as a room full of Frustrators (and of course, Mike Dirnt) fans were excited as hell to hear songs from the band’s first two recordings, Achtung Jackass and Bored in the USA as well as the new Griller, for the first time in years.
They ripped right into the set’s first song, “I Slept with Terry.” The Frustrators had warned on their Facebook page that anyone who dared to be at stage front better know the lyrics to the song, and the crowd huddled around Jason’s feet didn’t disappoint. And it was a good thing, because at times, Jason barely remembered the lyrics to some of the songs himself. Luckily, he got better as the week went by, ha!
Jason's Gilman Setlist - Not too practical, but it worked for him - Until the tea and sweat got in the way!
Jason announced the next song from the setlist written on his hand (YFrog photo here), “Trout,” recorded for an Adeline Records compilation “Might as Well, Can’t Dance” over a decade ago. I haven’t heard the song too many times played forward… it’s also on the band’s Achtung Jackass, but recorded backwards. “Tuort” is the one I’m used to. I asked Jason once why they recorded it backwards for Achtung Jackass and he said that they thought it “sounded as good backwards as it does forwards.” Well, I’m going to have to agree with that, so it was great to hear it in the forward position. Terry gave the first of many guitar thrashing moments at the foot of the stage, and it was fun to throw our hands up in the air and worship his guitar power chords. It was just about this time of the night that the Gilman crowd started to go completely wild in the moshpit, joined by Emily’s Army, the Pillowfights and Disabled Intent. I received the first of THREE TREMENDOUS STOMPS on the same pinkie toe… and while I winced in pain the first time, by the third time, I had to leave the dance floor as it felt like my toe had burst like a grape. I swear those Gilman waifs targeted my pinkie toe on purpose!
Might as Well, Can't Dance - Adeline Records Compilation 008
After “Trout,” the band asked for more drums and less snare in the monitor, and Jason said, “can we get more applause in the monitor, too,” and of course, the obliging crowd did as commanded. The next song up was “Stigma” from the new Griller, and Mike and Jason joked that the song was off their new “1/2 of an album” and that they only released four songs after eight years because “We love you that’s why we give you half of what we have” and that “We love you like a family, that’s why we give you half of what you deserve.” And all the while, Jason kept wiping the sweat off his brow thereby destroying the setlist written on his hand.
Mike Let's the Kids Play with Stanley - 924 Gilman - Photo by Michelle Lawlor
From there, Mike told the story of the song, “.25,” and of having to have someone put a bullet through the head of his 17-year old Japanese Akita dog after it got a bad case of mange, told with jazz interlude by the band. When the audience went “eeww,” Jason had to tell everyone that the “dog was fine,” but when you hear the song, well… you know, the dog wasn’t fine in the end. Heck, all good things must end, y’know? Afterwards, Stanley the Chicken made his stage entrance as Mike told the audience that they could play with Stan, so it was all good again as the band moved into “My Best Friend’s Girl.” I heard that later on in the tour, Mike realized that the story of his dog depressed people. I’m sure, though, that it wasn’t as depressing as having to actually put your dog down like that. And at least we get a great song out of it.
Don't let him fool ya! He's a rock star! - Jason Chandler - 924 Gilman - Photo by Michelle Lawlor
The next song, “Hide and Seek,” about working and not working at the same time, is pretty much the story of my life and it was followed by “Stupid,” with its refrain of “I feel stupid.” Yep. Both of ’em pretty much sum me up in a nutshell. The rest of the set went by in a blur since sometime between “Stupid” and “Pirate Song,” (an incredibly fun song to dance and scream the super-fast pirate lyrics to), I got my pinkie toe crushed for the second and third times. The third time, I had to leave the pit and I headed toward the backdoor of Gilman, standing between the door and the merch table and wincing in sheer pain. I’m pretty good in pits and I’m been known to throw down in the craziest of them, but having the same pinkie toe stomped by coincidence was weird. I was sure that if I looked at my toe at that point it would be a bloody burst of mess. So, instead, I didn’t look at it and pretended to be cool in the corner when all I wanted to do was scream in pain.
Mike's Gilman Setlist - Photo by ToniAnn Graffigna
The gig ended and the band had successfully gotten through their first live show in a thousand years, and they and the audience, were happy as clams. The bands hung out and talked with fans and sold merch, and eventually the night ended and we all said our goodbyes. Besides the music, the funny quips were what I loved the most about seeing the band, as Mike, Terry and Jason were full of one-liners throughout this and all of the shows. It’s kinda what I love about their music, the hint of intelligence, the whimsy of seriousness, the storytelling of odd situations, irony, laughter and a throbbing beat with a good sing-along melody. Having fun is the best disease of all.
The Frustrators recruited Greg Schneider to film the week’s shows and hopefully, one of these days, if we’re lucky, God willing and the crick don’t rise (heck, we’re still waiting on the new Frustrators website!), we’ll get to see the tour as well as back and front stage antics professionally filmed and edited. Though, if we have to wait eight years for it, we will all be awfully frustrated. Until such time comes, enjoy the HueyCam videos below of part of the show.
Frustrators at 924 Gilman – HueyCam – Pt. 1
Frustrators at 924 Gilman – HueyCam – Pt. 2
Stay Tuned for More Frustrators…
Stayed tuned for more about the shows… as soon as I get around to writing about them! Sorry that this is so long. I’ve said before how much I need an editor! Feel free to share your memories of this show if you were there in the comments!
I also have one copy of the Frustrators’ Griller that I’ll be giving away next week, so, brush up on your Frustrators history if you want to win it!
Mike Dirnt of Green Day and the Frustrators answers original questions! Interview by DJ Rossstar of the Punk Rock Show – Dr. Strange Records Frustrators In-Store, 2/26/11
Jnine F. went to the meet and greet and posted a few pictures.
Jnine with Jason Chandler and Mike Dirnt, Frustrators, Dr. Strange Records In-Store, 2/26/11
Mike Dirnt with Jnine - Frustrators Dr. Strange Records In-Store, 2/26/11
In other Frustrators news, Jnine posted an article about snow and hail hitting Los Angeles yesterday… just about the same time that the Frustrators are touring, two events that no one thought would ever happen. Hell may have just frozen over in both regards. Indeed, I’m sure there is a correlation!
Tonight the Frustrators play their final California tour gig at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. Bands include the Phenomenauts, Billybones and Bobby Joe Ebola and the Children MacNuggits. It’s going to be an amazing show!
Terry was interviewed recently by Amp Magazine and he was asked if the band had other plans for 2011. He said: “We’ve already started working on our next full length and will do east coast dates to support that record.” All I can say is: YES! EAST COAST!
I’m writing up my blog post about the Bay shows, so stay tuned. I just got back into town on Thursday, and hopefully will write about it by the middle of next week! If you’re going to the Troubadour tonight, have an excellent time!
Green Day’s Fansite Forum, the Idiot Club, is offering a new Idiot Club Member-Only t-shirt if you renew your membership or become a new member between 12/10/10 and 12/10/11. I won’t say much about the Idiot Club itself, but the admins over there do a good job of keeping things as lively as possible… but the shirt is… how you say… awesome as… well, y’know.
Idiot Club 2011 Membership Shirt - Image Idiot Club Greenday.com
Enough about fans and all that! Let’s get back to some music, shall we? NAMELY… THE FRUSTRATORS!
The Frustrators (Mike Dirnt, Jason Chandler, Terry Linehan and Art Tedeschi) released three videos, one :36 second, one :35 second and one :34 second snippets from their upcoming new 4-song EP, Griller: “Stigma,” “West of Texas, Pt. II” and “Prettiest Girl,” a Neighborhoods cover which introduces a new character from the pantheon of Jason Chandler’s creations, Joy McQueefy!
‘Prettiest Girl” feat. Joy McQueefy. Find her on Facebook! Poor Joy needs some friends! She only has two and one isn’t Stanley!
“Stigma” Video Tease — Hey, there’s Stanley!
“West of Texas, Pt. II” Video Tease — Hey! It’s the BAND!
For a limited time, you can also hear the full version of “Stigma” at AltPress.com (Ignore the comments, apparently everyone thinks the name of the band is Green Day…).
I listened to “Stigma” like… a bunch of times when it was posted on AltPress, and I gotta say, I’m loving it. Their sound is a little different from their first two records, a tad more mature, though still filled with irony. I can’t wait to hear the last installment from Griller, “We Need To Talk (It’s Not Us, It’s You).”
I highly recommend that you head on over to Gabriel Kerplunk’s Fansite. Gabriel has been putting up a lot of images, dates, and updates in one place about the Frustrators.
I Hate the Frustrators Cause I Can't Go To THEIR Website Yet!
The Frustrators themselves will reignite their own website as soon as Jimmy Zeus cleans Jason Chandler’s cage! Which actually may take at least a couple of more days…
In the meantime, Dr. Strange wants to remind you that their in-store meet and greet with the Frustrators will happen on February 26th at Dr. Strange Records located at 7136 Amethyst Ave. in Alta Loma, CA 91737 USA at 12PM … It kinda surprises me that it’s so early in the afternoon because I’m sure that the Frustrators will just barely be waking up (if they sleep at all) from the gig the night before in Santa Barbara at Velvet Jones… and I’m sure they’ll all be wearing pants.
COMETBUS #54 In China with Green Day by Aaron Cometbus
Living in New York City as I do, we here are lucky to get shows, books, movies, whatever, on a regular basis before others do. When Larry Livermore a few weeks ago tweeted that COMETBUS #54 was available in “select bookstores” in New York, I knew the ones he meant, those stores in the city that carry ‘zines such as Book Thug Nation in Brooklyn and Bluestockings and Forbidden Planet in Manhattan. A few days later, on January 29th, I went over to Book Thug (it wasn’t at Bluestocking yet) and picked up a copy for myself and Abbey Fox, a long-time reader of Aaron Cometbus’s work. I brought it home, cracked it open, read it until 3:00 in the morning, fell asleep and finished it the next day. While reading, I tweeted from my personal Twitter:
OMG COMETBUS #54 “In China with Green Day” is awesomer than fuck. And I mean that — his writing about gd & their friendship as well as the far east and himself is kinda magical. Can’t put it down — I’m being a little over the top, but seriously, it’s a glimpse of the band we rarely get. And its written with love — of course I haven’t gotten to the end yet, so who knows what road it’ll take! — Aw he doesn’t like the opening band or the bunny, lol. That’s going to interesting, lol. Hahaha. — Aw, he’s reassessed his opinion of the opening band cause they are also fans. Sweet. 🙂 — I’m sorry, last one: NEVER ATTEMPT TO EAT A LIVE OCTOPUS. Can’t. Stop. Laughing. — Aw, he talks about Eddie, Mehdi, and George! — Chapter 18 will make you cry. — Nearing the end… and i feel the same way as he does when the tour begins to end… — be prepared…he has nothing nice to say about Green Day fans…especially middle-aged women…point taken…guilty as charged? i dunno. — well…except for the malaysians.. — luckily, he’s as hard on himself as he is on fans. kudos, dude. — “Everyone has their own perspective, and each thought that theirs was the clearest one.” pg. 94. bingo. — finis…a love story…honest, straightforward, no mincing of words…his stinky socks remind me that I need to take a fucking shower now.”
In a nutshell, it was brilliant. The best thing I’ve ever read about Green Day, and I read a lot of stuff. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me feel like I had an inside glimpse into how the band relaxed or got ready for shows, how it was to travel to places such as Thailand, Hong Kong, and Japan, and most special of all, how the friendship between Cometbus and his friends, Billie Joe, Mike, and Tre (and to some extent Jason White, second touring guitarist, and Bill Schneider, their personal manager and bassist for Pinhead Gunpowder) had evolved over the many years that he’s known them. Kudos, overall to COMETBUS #54. Two thumbs up… except…
There were a few things I was bothered about. If I had reviewed this earlier, I would have mentioned these things as bothersome, but in passing, and not harp on them… like I’m about to do. I took these few things with a grain of salt from a salty writer, but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t floored… or saddened… or bothered… or couldn’t talk about with others… two specific things in the work dealing with fans… one of which was written about by Livermore on his blog. I was specifically called out on something that I said on Twitter. You can read all of that on Larry’s blog (and don’t miss the comments while you’re at it). Now, I feel like I’m obligated to respond to a Twitter conversation instead of actually just reviewing COMETBUS #54. Something that Larry didn’t have to blog about but felt obligated, I suppose, to do so. I suppose I didn’t have to talk about it on Twitter in the first place, either.
Cometbus and Green Day Fans – Superfans Are Us… and YOU
Cometbus starts off the volume with this mantra, aimed at himself: “Don’t be judgmental, don’t be difficult, don’t be self-righteous. Just go with the flow and enjoy the ride. Don’t be judgmental, don’t be difficult…” and then later, he judges the videographers when they got on his bad side by taking photos of beggars without giving alms (that would bug me, too) and that their ideas of photo ops were basically stupid (which also according to his description, seems true, Green Day photographed in a Thailand tuk tuk vehicle does sound a little silly). How the crew was snobbish because they felt that they were “doing real men’s work,” and never really warmed up to him as a former roadie, except for the pyrotechnics guy, who went out of his way to be kind. How their security (three guys all of you who have been to a Green Day show lately have seen) were goons… but intellectual and articulate ones.
He relents a teeny bit on the photographers and crew and a lot on security as #54 moves forward, and says, “I’d been unfair, and let my imagination and assumptions carry me away. It was the same way with the photographers and the crew; the temptation to paint them with a wide brush was hard to resist but, inaccurate.” In other words, he had given them a chance and seen them through a different light as opportunities presented themselves over his two weeks with Green Day in the Far East to actually talk with the photographers, the crew and security. In fact, he writes about a really nice conversation between him and one security man in particular is very touching.
In short, I surmised from his words that talking to people one-on-one is different from judging people from afar… Something that he does not afford to a specific group of fans that rub him, as highlighted below, the wrong way.
Let me say here that the first time I read Cometbus was over the last two years. I’m not a long-term, star-struck fan from back in the day, and from what I understand (and have read) there’s a lot of things in Aaron Cometbus’s works that make you go… woah. He’s a great writer and brutally honest about himself and others. In #54, he talks about how his relationships with both Al Sobrante and Billie Joe went sour at certain points in their friendships, and about his own foibles, too. So all in all, when I finished the 97-page love story to his friends, I was pretty thrilled and touched when I got to the end, as well as upset by a few things, too. Larry’s blog post calls out those fans who felt or may have felt that they were targets in the first of two passages below, when in fact, Cometbus takes it one step further to admonish all fans of a certain stripe as terrifying Green Day groupies, as quoted in the second passage below:
The first passage in question reads:
As excitable as the Japanese fans were, they were still preferable to the comparatively sedate Green Day stalkers back in the States. Those were an eerie bunch, mostly lost-looking middle-aged women and glassy-eyed teens, plus the occasional Green Day groupie family that contained both. Where the dads were, I don’t know—though that may have been the point.
Armed with seemingly inexhaustible expense accounts and trust funds, they crisscrossed the country attending every single Green Day-related event. That kind of frivolousness I could understand in a once-in-a-lifetime or one-last-wish scenario, but not every single week! The decadence of it made me sick. I was grateful, and a bit shocked, that none of them had followed us halfway around the world. The Japanese fans were starstruck, but not crazy enough—or rich enough—to devote their whole lives to the band.
— In China with Green Day?!! by Aaron Cometbus, pg. 88-89
The second passage on page 34 contains a sentence that reads: “Only the most terrifying Green Day groupie would recognize any of the Big Three after they’d stepped offstage.” “The Big Three” are Jason White, Jason Freese (keyboardist and saxophonist), and Jeff Matika (back up vocals and guitar). The nickname, “the Big Three,” is a term of endearment that these three musicians dubbed themselves as the band’s touring musicians from the recently-ended 21st Century Breakdown tour. In two paragraphs, Cometbus basically speaks of the gift of anonymity that befalls the Jasons and Jeff, unlike the near non-existent anonymity of Green Day themselves. That the “Big Three” can walk the streets and not be harassed, as opposed to Billie Joe, Mike and Tre, who are easily recognizable. He goes on to say that not being part of the band, just employees, must be hard on them, too. That I can understand, but then he throws the “terrifying Green Day groupie” line in as he mentions disappointed fans staring at the entourage, trying to find someone actually in the band.
In essence, for those of you out there who are smugly (and you know who are) thinking that the first passage doesn’t apply to you, there are many of you who the second passage, those “terrifying Green Day fans [who] would recognize” the Big Three does apply to. So get your knickers out of a bunch in any gripes about “Superfans” and take the time to actually digest what Aaron Cometbus has written about you. Of course, there are tons of people out there who haven’t read COMETBUS #54, so that is, admittedly, kinda hard to do at this point, I know.
Call Me a Superfan Again and I’ll…
Larry Livermore, who follows both Abbey Fox and me on Twitter, posted a question on Facebook presumably after reading the conversation we were having with other Green Day fans about the first passage. He asked, “Why are they so sure they’re the ones being talked about?” So, I guess I should answer that. Here goes:
First of all, I’m nobody. I don’t hang with Green Day like Aaron Cometbus or Larry Livermore do and shoot the shit. I’m just a blogger who started a project in June 2009 to write about Green Day’s tour and just kept going after it ended. I have gotten over 70,000 “hits” here since then, and a small return readership. When I started the blog, I had never seen Green Day play live before May 2009. I didn’t have any Green Day albums (or many albums for that matter) except for American Idiot. Since then, through crazy happenstance, I have met Green Day, and they and I don’t know each other from a hill of beans. I have spoken with Aaron Cometbus two times, and both conversations, while brief, have been pleasant and he was gracious. I have seen him as the drummer and lead songwriter of Pinhead Gunpowder when they played their amazing show for their friend Anandi last year at Gilman, and while the show was awesome, his actions toward female fans turned me off to no end. I got called a bitch-woman-child on this blog by a commenter for going to see Pinhead Gunpowder because in his words, “I was only there for Billie Joe Armstrong.” Larry Livermore is an acquaintance, and I have seen his band, the Potatomen, play when they reunited for a show last year. I am friends with people who know Green Day, and I love those people with all of my heart. I have gone to multiple Green Day shows and events (not every week, as Cometbus writes but over the period of the tour), have seen American Idiot the musical in Berkeley twice and way too many times (with and without Billie Joe Armstrong as St. Jimmy) on Broadway. I hang around the stagedoor talking with other fans and my friend the stagedoor guy and occasionally, the crew and a band member. I have a friend who plays with the AI band sometimes. I have seen John Gallagher, Jr. play at Rockwood as well as ensemble member Declan Bennett at Ars Nova. I have stood on the St. James Theater. I have exactly three personal fan photographs (one with Billie Joe, taken by a friend who I didn’t ask to take it, as well as a group photo with him when Dawn, an Iraq and Afghan War veteran I interviewed on this blog, met him in NYC), and one with Mike Dirnt, who jokingly took the photograph himself when another friend and I couldn’t take a self-portrait to save our lives. I have exactly one autograph of Billie Joe Armstrong. I have seen the Foxboro Hot Tubs play. Twice. I have traveled to England to see them, to Montreal, to California, and to numerous shows on the East Coast. I will be going to see Mike Dirnt’s band, The Frustrators, in the East Bay next week. I have written about mostly all of these events on this blog (though I keep some things to myself)… my personal memories of great times and I have shared these happenstance good memories with you. I have met fans — the most wonderful (and yes, not so wonderful) women, men, teenagers, and families along the way… a community… a Green Day Community.
I am middle-aged and a woman and I fit the description that Cometbus writes in regards to crisscrossing the world to attend Green Day events. Except, I ain’t lost-looking, am not eerie, and ain’t got no trust fund or expense account, that’s for damned sure. Does that answer your question, Larry? Or better yet, why did you frame the question that way in the first place?
Do I consider myself a Superfan? I hate that word with so much passion you don’t even know. A superfan connotes to me an evil bitch who goes around unkindly ripping everything that they can from a band or any entertainer or a jealous person when they themselves are unable or unwilling to do the thing that they want the most to do… follow their dream and have an adventure. Am I suppose to have some sort of cape with my superfan costume? I was raised in a bar, with music, and one of my dreams in this life (after all the other ones were dashed, but it’s not like I didn’t try to attain them) was to follow a band, listen to music, have a good time, and collect the memories of it, like some people collect books or records, and write about them. Catalog them, if you will. Heck, I am an archivist, and that is what we do.
But maybe, I am a superfan, though I have never, to my knowledge, as some accuse “superfans,” rubbed the things I’ve done in anyone’s face, and if I have, I apologize for that. For a long while, I didn’t even tell anyone I wrote this blog, because, y’know, it’s kinda crazy, and what would my friends think! I have tried to be as humble as possible and while I have failed here and there at that, I am always amazed at anything that comes my way. I have written this blog with respect to Green Day as people, from what I hope, is a grown-up perspective. There have been times in my brain when I’ve felt entitled (as some accuse these superfans) and have mentally kicked myself for even thinking it. I have gotten pissed at times that a certain website (which I happen to like a great deal) has never once mentioned my blog though I mention them all the time. So, while I wouldn’t call myself a superfan, because it’s a stupid, hateful, word, you might call me that. I call myself a fan, and a lucky and grateful one at that.
What I am not is a stalker or a terrifying groupie. (Well, except for that one time when I fangirled all over Billie Joe at an American Idiot talkback — something that I’m completely ashamed of.) Hence, I did not think that Cometbus was talking about me, but I do have the capability of asking myself, as a cursed Pisces will do, am I that person? And neither are the majority of Green Day fans who have occasionally fangirled and fanboyed with me or have or have not crisscrossed the planet and happen to be able to recognize the Big Three offstage.
Of course, your definition of me may be different owing to the description above. I don’t know, and frankly, the more I think about it, the more I don’t care.
“Don’t be judgmental, don’t be difficult, don’t be self-righteous. Just go with the flow and enjoy the ride. Don’t be judgmental, don’t be difficult…”
What was my motivation when I started this blog? Was I trying to get close to Green Day? Was it fame? Glory? A writing project? Boredom? Loneliness? Accomplishing something? Doing something crazy before I die?
Maybe a little bit of all those reasons but… No… my motivation was to get away from writing about genocide… literally. And now with all of this damned stupidity about Superfans and what not, of reading comments from people slagging each other off because of old grudges or trout dances or punk rivalries or jealousy or writers who are friends of the band and have a special place in their hearts who don’t give one good goddamn about his friend’s bands fans… I kinda feel like I did when I almost went to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. the day that a white supremacist walked into it and killed the security guard back in 2009. I was ten minutes away from that damn incident and decided at the last minute not to go. I just want to get away from everything Green Day for awhile.
What is a Stalker?
Enough about me, let’s get back to what Cometbus wrote, specifically on the definition… or at least, a description of, a stalker, since none is clearly provided for in COMETBUS #54. Let me tell you what a stalker, as Aaron Cometbus judges a group of people that he, unlike the photographers, the crew, or security, at Green Day’s latest tour that he is able to speak with and warm up to, lumps a bunch of people into, really is. This is what I wrote in the comments on Larry’s blog:
You want to know what a real stalker is… ask my movie actress friend who was stalked by a woman for six months [sending her messages through Facebook, her blog, leaving things at her house] until that said stalker called the police saying that my friend was being beaten up… the police came to her house and everything was fine… and then the stalker showed up at my friend’s home with a sex toy. Needless to say, that stalker… the true definition of a stalker… spent two months in jail because she refused to post bail for trespassing and harassment until her court date. Court ordered psychiatric care and a restraining order are now permanently in that woman’s life… now THAT is a stalker.
Fans, Superfans, Stalkers
So, with all of that long-windedness said, what’s my take on all of this?
What Aaron Cometbus writes is his opinion, combined with his views of the hyperactivity of fans that he’s seen over the years, mixed in with his own punk perceptions and views. There’s nothing wrong with that. From what I gather, he lives a relatively simple life filled with books and writing who just happens, through happenstance, to know some famous people. He is, as well as you, entitled to opinions. In COMETBUS #54, he tells a wonderful story of friendship filled with obvious love and he doesn’t slam all fans. In fact, there are a few descriptions that are both funny and touching, including a great story about a haywire cultural incident that happened in Singapore between a fan and Billie Joe onstage, some moments of truly obsessed and stalkerish behavior in Japan (but at least they are funny), and, a particularly powerful incident where he dances with a group of Malaysian fans at one of the shows. And he writes that it’s decadent and frivolous for a group of people to follow a band for many shows and events during a tour. And you know what? He’s right. If he had left it at that, it would have been fine. But he goes on to judge those fans whose decadence and frivolousness he deems so completely wrong as “armed with seemingly inexhaustible expense accounts and trust funds” that that is where the problem of his own prejudices and misreading of people, lay. It’s not about me and whether I take it upon myself to follow a band (or whether I’m a superfan, a fan or a stalker), or as Larry Livermore asked on Facebook, “Why are they so sure they’re the ones being talked about?” It’s about Aaron Cometbus and how he misjudges people who love the same band that he does but who do not have the friendship to travel in first class with them for two solid weeks.
And who does he misjudge? Women in their middle-life, who may have finally come to a point in their lives to do something wild and crazy after a lifetime of work and saving, or maybe after divorce, or maybe after being widowed, or hell, even still married, to travel! To hear music! To see their friends who happen to be fans too and have met for the first time after years of Internet talking! And yes, to see Billie Joe shake his ass as well. Or teens… kids just starting out in life and on a grand adventure with their favorite band and their friends! And families that may or may not be broken, but are taking an adventure on their own, without (or with) dad in tow, and bonding with their children over something crazy… music. Some of them may even have trust funds and expense accounts, but it’s their money. In this respect, though, I think back to his view on the photographers that didn’t pay the beggars for taking their photograph. It would bother me, too… if I didn’t know that many of these people that I have met along the way and have talked with, don’t have trust funds or expense accounts.
When Cometbus writes that fans… folks who haven’t had the opportunity to travel like I or many others have, are “terrifying Green Day groupies” just because they recognize the Big Three… what the fuck is that all about? Not only does he slag off a specific group of superfans (god I hate that word), but he also slags off the “ordinary fan,” who just may happen to know what those three dudes look like. I don’t know. I can’t even fathom the meaning behind those particular words.
I know that there are crazy fans. There are those fans who do nothing short of stupid things and I don’t need to tell you what those things are, you can pretty much conjure them up in your mind. Their actions sometimes terrifies me and makes me feel badly for Green Day, or any band, movie star, or public figure, for that matter. These fans invade privacy, put into danger, stalk their children, impersonate them, scream at them, and hound them to no end for just a little piece of them. This behavior is wrong, short and simple. But not every fan or superfan (urgh) does it. Not everyone can be painted with a broad brush. Not everyone has an expense account or trust fund. Not everyone is a stalker.
I guess the bottom line with me is that it’s hard enough being a Green Day fan when punk and music circles constantly slam them. You can’t mention Green Day in many music forums without some commenter writing about how good they used to be. I don’t mind a rational discussion of the issues of fandom and its subsequent problems. But I don’t need one of their friends to slam me as a fan, too. Particularly when the band has named their new live album pretty much in honor of their fans and particularly when that friend does not write informed distinctions about those very same fans.
A great friend of mine who talked with me about this said that fans should just boycott the work. To that, I say no. The problem with that is that overall, COMETBUS #54 is brilliant, and every fan (whether they can recognize the Big Three offstage or not), will quite enjoy it. I stick by those words I tweeted back on January 29th when I started reading the issue: “OMG COMETBUS #54 “In China with Green Day” is awesomer than fuck. And I mean that” I also will keep in mind Aaron Cometbus’s mantra: “Don’t be judgmental, don’t be difficult, don’t be self-righteous. Just go with the flow and enjoy the ride. Don’t be judgmental, don’t be difficult…” In that respect, maybe I have misjudged Aaron Cometbus. But I have only his words to go by on that.
“Everyone has their own perspective, and each thought that theirs was the clearest one.”
I Hate the Frustrators - OK, totally not really, but the image is hilarious, though the website DOESN'T WORK...right now. But check back soonish, a Griller G'rilla mentioned that the "great nameless masses should remain on the edges of their wet seats in anticipation of a new site coming soon-ish!" -- Illustration by Jason Chandler
The image at right is of course tongue-in-cheek. I don’t hate the Frustrators (Mike Dirnt, Jason Chandler, Terry Linehan and Art Tedeschi) at all but I do hate the fact that there is a chance that I might miss them in their first East Bay/San Francisco tour in eight years coming up this February 18th-24th.
Why might I miss the Frustrators? Well, it’s due to funds. The past two years or so have been the best of times, the worst of times, and frankly, I’m a little broke! Yes, yes, break out the teeny tiny violins, I know. I’ve had an awesome time since June of 2009 bringing you, dear reader, wonderful (I hope) stories of Green Day shows and events that you may not have been able to get to… and great memories have accumulated for me over that time. I’ve had a blast and I am awed and honored that you have come to read the words I have to give to you.
Now, I’m in a bit of a bind as I try to get to San Francisco this month to see the Frustrators. I love the Frustrators. Their crazy lyrics and thumping rhythm plus their oh-so-funny Facebook page have given me hours of enjoyment and entertainment… even when they weren’t about to drop an album.
I have never asked for donations for this blog, and truthfully, I feel incredibly weirded out by asking. Afterall, this is a project that I took on myself, not knowing where it would lead… and I don’t have anything to give you except the words that I write describing concerts or events I’ve attended. I promise you, though, if you donate any amount, I will write about the awesome music and crazy times expected this month in the East Bay.
In fact, before today, I didn’t have anything to give except words until an amazing offer came my way by pure chance thanks to Christian Grande, of the website, Green Day Collector. Christian lives in Norway. He bought two tickets to see Billie Joe Armstrong perform at his final performance as St. Jimmy in American Idiot at 7:30 PM on February 27th and now due to finances, he and his wife won’t be able to make it to New York. He’s kindly given me his tickets to sell… in order to help me get to San Francisco and write about the Frustrator shows for him and you.
The seats at the St. James Theater are great… two Row C, Mezzanine Center, 102 and 103, seats. (Seating chart here.) The seats give a full and unobstructed view of the stage. Face value of each ticket is $122.00, for a total of $244.00. This price is without the service charges from Telecharge. You can purchase them separately also. If you’d like to purchase the tickets, please email me (yes, Christian, I just made this email today, lol) at GreenDayMind@gmail.com and we’ll make arrangements for transferring the e-tickets to you. I leave for California on February 18th, and would like to sell the tickets prior to leaving.
For those of you who aren’t able to purchase the tickets, but can still help me get to San Francisco, please feel free to click the little yellow button below and donate anything you can.
Tony Vincent, Billie Joe Armstrong, Joshua Kobak, Andrew Call. I’ve been fortunate to see these four men perform St. Jimmy in American Idiot. My heart belongs with the St. Jimmy of Billie Joe Armstrong, while my head belongs to Tony Vincent. Armstrong brings himself to the role, as he is St. Jimmy, and he’s got the gritty balls to grab the audience by the throat and throttle them with his electricity. Plus, he just knows how to sing the songs that he’s spent so much blood and sweat writing and singing. Vincent, who left the show at the of end of 2010 after originating the role in Berkeley and Broadway, brought a magnificent voice and a slick and evil characterization to St. Jimmy. He was my favorite in the show even when I saw it back in Berkeley so long ago in September 2009. Kobak and Call stepped in as Vincent’s understudies for two shows that I saw, and while I thought their performances were solid (Kobak brought a bit of Vincent with him, while Call was hulking and sinister), they were not Vincent and Armstrong.
Now, there’s a fifth St. Jimmy, and her name is Melissa Etheridge.
Tonight’s performance was her first in an actual role on Broadway. She performed with the Broadway show Million Dollar Quartet, for a one-night jam performance back in June, so tonight was her actual debut as an actor. I’ve been a great proponent of the casting of Etheridge in the role. I love the non-traditional casting that American Idiot seems to be striving for, as they head into the days where Billie Joe Armstrong (who rejoins the cast from February 10th to February 27th) will permanently leave the role. I’ve heard rumors that they are contemplating various performers to take over the role after Armstrong leaves, and those of us who hang around the stagedoor talking to each other other joke about Keith Richards or Johnny Depp appearing. When Etheridge was announced, I was thrilled, not only because she was a woman, but she also has a great voice and excellent stage presence as a musician.
She started off with a burst of vibrant energy at the lyrics that introduce St. Jimmy to the audience… “Coming at you on the count of 1,2,1,2,3,4!”… as the audience, many of whom where regular suspects in attendance, shouted out the count along with Johnny (played by Van Hughes tonight since John Gallagher, Jr., is on vacation). It was a brilliant entrance and then… boom… for the first lines that she sang (“My name is Jimmy and you better not wear it out… Suicide commando that your momma talked about… King of the forty thieves… And I’m here to represent… The needle in the vein of the establishment), Etheridge completely lost the fast-paced rhythm. It was a bit shocking, but she ended the song on a strong note.
From that point on, I was worried that she would lose the pace again. After all, the music to American Idiot is fast pop-punk, and it’s faster than anything that Etheridge has ever put out and a completely different style and tempo. She never lost the pace again, but one thing that was noticeably different for serial attendees like me, was that the music had been slightly re-scored to fit her voice and rhythm. In essence, that’s ok, but I’m so used to hearing Armstrong or Vincent keeping up the pace that it bothered me a little bit. Her musical styling is so much different from the world of pop-punk, that there were moments were she wanted to bring her own voice and style into play, but the music of American Idiot doesn’t really allow for that.
Melissa Etheridge as St. Jimmy -- Photo by Paul Kolnik
Her best songs were “Know Your Enemy” and the Homecoming movement, “The Death of St. Jimmy,” both of which she knocked out of the house, particularly the latter. She brought a subtle nuance to the movement and less of the crazed and funny stylings of Armstrong or the evil intent of Vincent. For those who know the show, Johnny and St. Jimmy take their shirts off and draw hearts with lipstick on their chests. It’s easy for a guy to take their shirt off onstage (I’ve played a role naked once and let me tell you, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do as a woman), so instead of going shirtless, she took off an overshirt and revealed a t-shirt underneath that had a pre-drawn, bleached outline of the heart on it which she then traced. While the t-shirt was cool (I want one), the action itself unfortunately didn’t work for me as a staged moment.
I’m happy that American Idiot took the chance with Etheridge, a woman just a little older than me who has an amazing voice and exceptional stage presence. For her first night performing in such a role, I think that she did a good, if not exceptional job and the novelty of the gender-switch certainly works. She has huge shoes to fill and it’s probably a bit unfair to compare her with other St. Jimmys, but unfortunately, it’s a natural thing to do. Her chemistry and connection with Hughes was a little non-existent, but that also might be because it’s their first times together in front of an audience and Hughes hasn’t played the role of Johnny for very many performances himself. I do like the way he performs some of Johnny’s monologues, particularly before “Whatsername,” but I found myself wondering how Gallagher and Etheridge would have performed the show together.
On the whole, a female St. Jimmy works, though Etheridge (to me) lacks a bit of the power and fire that other St. Jimmys have brought to the role. I also didn’t see her as the character of St Jimmy, but as Melissa Etheridge performing the songs of St. Jimmy. Hopefully after one show under her belt, she’ll be able to quickly develop more characterization and less of a sketch of St. Jimmy. For hardcore Etheridge fans, she’s a must-see, by far.
ThatGirlAllison wrote a review here of the show and took a video of Etheridge’s Good Riddance encore, below:
Gabriel Kerplunk kerplunked the Frustrators yesterday by posting images of the awesome cover art from the upcoming versions of the band’s vinyl EPs, even before the band posted them! The Frustrators themselves posted the vinyl covers, both of which are below, shortly thereafter. Love ’em! Enjoy!