Why I’m Looking Forward to Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’

Nothing says “punk rock” like a Broadway show. OK, not really, but the whole “Are they punk or not?” argument no longer applies to Green Day, which has long been chastised by elitist music critics for being more pop than punk. After more than 25 years of rocking, the band now transcends labels. They’ve earned it.

When I was in eighth grade in 1994-95, none of that label stuff mattered to me—I had yet to become the jaded music snob I am today. My prepubescent Green Day fandom remains, hence why I’m super stoked to see their Broadway smash, American Idiot, when the touring company makes a stop at The Smith Center on June 11-16. I’m also curious to check out the musical’s band play Green Day covers on June 13 after the stage show atRed Rock Resort.

Admittedly, I haven’t actively sought out any Green Day albums since 1997’sNimrod—with the exception of the musical’s namesake rock opera. Yet, there’s still the warm, fuzzy nostalgia when I recall listening to “She” on my Walkman while riding the school bus, or screaming out the lyrics to “Basket Case” while rollerblading around the concrete foundations of my half-completed neighborhood, which was then way out in the middle of nowhere at Cheyenne Avenue and Fort Apache Road.

Green Day rocked my world, even though I didn’t understand that “All By Myself” (or “The Secret Song” as we called it) was actually about masturbation. Hell, I didn’t even realize that 1994’s Dookie was a reference to the—ahem—runs, nor did I care that the album cover depicted assorted mammals throwing their own shit.

When I rocked the official band shirt procured at Hot Topic, I earned mad middle school street cred with the flannel-wearing, black-lipstick set—the same kids to whom I sold handmade clay psychedelic mushroom necklaces without having any idea why they dug them so much.

Interestingly enough, it was not my peers who first exposed me to Green Day, but my father who was nearly 40 years my senior. Dad had an ear for the next hot thing in tunes before the masses did (maybe he listened to a lot of college radio). Dad would record music videos from MTV, turning them into sweet VHS mixes of everything from Billy Idol to Jane’s Addiction. He told me to check out Green Day performing live on TV. “Those guys have a lot of pep,” he said, and bought me the cassette upon our next visit.

Fast-forward to high school, when “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” was our graduation anthem. Needless to say, Green Day was an integral volume in the soundtrack of my youth. So yeah, rip on Green Day if you want, but I’m counting down the days to American Idiot. Plus, my dad would have dug it. And my dad was pretty punk in his own way, just like Green Day.

Originally published in Vegas Seven.

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