Green Day Prove Why Alt Rock and Punk Still Have Influence In Society
The rock world as well as social media was set ablaze when Green Day took the stage last week at the American Music Awards. The Hall of Famers figuratively lit a fire that not only sparked the stage, but also sparked outrage in a lot of Americans across the country with a dynamite, but controversial performance of “Bang Bang”, their recently released #1 rock single. After the performance, the band became the 3rd most discussed subject on Twitter that night and some of the next day.
With the feel of political chaos in the air caused by a number of recent events that resulted in an emotional split in the country, musicians have been more active than usual in their political stances.
As incredible as the adrenaline rush of the performance was with on-the-money pyrotechnics and on-point punk chemistry amongst the band members, in the Eastern-tinged quieter moments of “Bang Bang” we found what set people aflame. Billie Joe Armstrong chanted “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist U.S.A.” numerous times to reflect the country’s divide just after the memorable presidential election. If you’ve been following Green Day’s comments of late, and heard their new Revolution Radio, they are obviously distraught with what’s been happening in the U.S., and are not afraid to say so.
Missed the AMA Performance? Check it out here!
— Green Day (@GreenDay) November 22, 2016
Politics have entered punk and rock through the years, and for a band that had doubters from different sectors concerning their punk status, an event like this proves that there is definitely a defiant outlook to Green Day’s music and message. They are using the power they have to fight for what they believe in, and I think most punk fans can respect that. With such controversial topics like Donald Trump and the KKK, Billie Joe struck a tightly wound nerve in the country. Tweets ranged from “what the heck does this rocker know” to “their music is crap anyway” to “this is why I’m a Green Day fan, cause they don’t B.S.” You’ll see plenty more comments in that vein following the tweet posted above.
Billie Joe Armstrong reflected back on it later in the week to Rolling Stone- “We didn’t rehearse it. We’re in just as much shock as everyone else is about this. But I think with the AMA’s, it was a good start to challenge him [Trump] on all his ignorant policies and racism.” He added, “It [the chant] was actually done by a band M.D.C. who are from Texas but moved to San Francisco years ago.” The original chant included the lyric “no war” which Green Day replaced with “no Trump.”
While Billie Joe is in the moment, he’s well aware that he’s carrying on a political tradition in rock that stemmed back to protest songs against Vietnam war back in the 1960’s by people like Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, and Country Joe McDonald. Revolution Radio’s music has the 60’s and 70’s written all over it being influenced by The Who as well as bands like the Sex Pistols and The Clash who were always politically charged.
But the years of politics in rock have faded away, and we’re left with “toe in the water” moments that are too few and far between. A song here or there doesn’t do much to challenge rock fans. Green Day could have and may have lost tens of thousands of fans, or potential fans because of their actions. Yes, they’re loaded with dough already and if they lose money over it, they will still be set for life, but they also didn’t need to take the chance. They could have retired after American Idiot, but the music and the message were too important for this band to let go and whether you agree or not with the message or method, we can admire that Green Day used music as a vehicle to cause mass reaction proving that alternative rock and punk rock are still vital in not just the music world, but in our country.
Click here to read Lauryn Schaffner’s piece on why it is okay to disagree with the liberal political views of your favorite artists like Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell.