The America Idiot album by Greenday was a collection of songs that appealed to my teenage angst and ambition to change a broken system. Still having a special place in my heart for the passionate punk rockers, and to celebrate 11 years since the album was released (yip I now feel very old), I got myself tickets to see American Idiot: The Musical.
So on a sunny Saturday, Pablo and I took the short trip into Soho to witness a blast from our hormone-fuelled past. Taking our seats in the sauna like small Arts Theatre, faux leather trouser suddenly seemed like a horrid outfit choice. My plastic pants now stuck to the seat we were, without warning, thrown into world of Greenday.
The story surrounds the lives of three American male friends, looking for meaning in a post 9/11 world. Each taking their own path, yet going through equal amounts of despair.
Being a teenager during this time period, it was reminiscent of my own coming of age story. Though I was, what seemed like, a million miles away from the USA in my little Scottish town I used to blare the American Idiot Album thinking “fuck yeah down with the institutions” and whoever else was the current obstacle to me doing whatever the hell I wanted!
Billy Joel’s lyrics were belted out with a raw energy, and though sometimes over the top and self indulgent, came across as well intended by the equally lost characters. Their struggles and attitude were a clear snapshot of the frustration that many adolescents feel, yet cannot articulate. It was a representation of that pure rage and misguided passion that I used to (and sometimes still) have.
The entire show was perfectly imperfect.
The costume was a try hard take on what someone who wants to look ‘rock’ would wear, and almost every piece of choreography featured flipping the bird, making the gesture lose its shock factor very quickly. This juvenility may seem like a negative but made the show relatable, it was obvious that the characters wanted to push back against society but simply did not have the maturity to pull it off.
Though young at heart, and filled with stereotypes, the show still managed to pull off some pretty hardcore topics including relationships, war, politics and heavy drug use. I don’t think that the man in front of me quite realised that he would be experiencing the ‘rock lifestyle’ in such a graphic manner when he booked tickets for his teenage sons, with each expletive he sunk further into his seat and before he left told them not to tell their mum about what they had just witnessed. The sons however looked enlightened, finding a show that lived out their fantasy of teenage rebellion in the comfort of their cosy seats.
American Idiot The Musical, like the album, was a social cometary on the bleak Bush era of american politics and though dealt with the serious topics and the despair of my generation it had a raucous energy and spirit that somehow made it an unpredictable but highly enjoyable rock show.
Are you guys Greenday fans? Was there any music that appealed to your rebellious streak when you were a teenager?