By Chez Pazienza: So Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong threw out a bunch of obscenities, bitched about Justin Bieber and, essentially, corporate rock production, smashed his guitar and stormed offstage.
In case you haven’t heard or seen incident I’m talking about, it happened at the “I Heart Radio” fest in Las Vegas, produced by radio behemoth Clear Channel, last Friday. Billie Joe was apparently angry over his band’s set having been cut short and this was how he voiced that anger:
Now keep in mind that immediately following this little outburst, which by the way is the most genuinely punk rock thing Green Day has done in about 15 years, Billie Joe checked himself into rehab and the band’s management company dropped to its knees in supplication before Clear Channel, issuing a statement officially absolving it of any wrongdoing. In other words, Billie Joe gets to take full responsibility for what went down while passing off his onstage rant as the result of an addiction to something or other.
Now if Billie Joe Armstrong really does have a drinking or drug problem — if it’s the kind of thing that’s interfering with his life and causing real damage — then obviously he’s smart to get help. But there’s something mildly disconcerting about the rush by a rock and roll band to both grovel at the feet of a corporate radio giant and blame what may very well have been an entirely justified tantrum on something other than the fact that the guy at the center of it is a former punk.
Reading the stories and watching the reports about this thing, the ones describing it as a “meltdown” or otherwise expressing shock or tsk-tsking Billie Joe’s behavior, I can’t help but lament the state of rock and roll. Getting pissed off and publicly berating the corporations that often constrain creative freedom — even at your own expense, basically biting the hand that feeds you — used to be de riguer for a rock band. As was insulting whatever the crappy pop music of the day happened to be. Now that kind of thing is apparently something that needs to be apologized for and blamed on drugs and alcohol (something else that used to be acceptable in rock to an extent, by the way).
I wish Billie Joe Armstrong the best if he’s hurting and feels like he needs to get help. But regardless of what actually happened last Friday night in Vegas, he doesn’t need to say he’s sorry for acting like a fucking rock and roll musician, because that’s what he’s supposed to be.