I don't know how many or if any of you remember me, because I haven't posted for way too long. I want to give more than one update, though. Mainly not for the sake of giving an update, but because I know how some of you feel and it might give some of you some hope.
I know that when I first came here, I was severely depressed. At school I was the outsider, at hockey I got bullied so much it ended with a broken collar bone. It destroyed me so much because I thought my hockey career would have ended as well.
Now, I'm out of school, I study and I'm happy with that. I went through therapy and it helped a lot.
The main change, though, was the birth of my sweet daughter. Really, when I first looked into her eyes (she was born with her eyes open) I realized what true love is! From that moment on I knew I didn't need any hockey career to prove myself, I don't need a hockey career to be worth it, I don't need it to have success or be a good person. I had more than I ever wanted.
Four months later I got an offer, though. "You've trained here a few years ago. Do you have interest in playing in our team the next season?"
Well, I have a baby. I'm alone with my baby. Okay, not completely alone, but would my parents really take so much of their time to help me out there? I told them of the offer. I was scared, nervous and already sad because I thought my answer would have to be a "no, sadly I can't".
"I have no idea how we'll do it, but we'll find a solution, so say yes to them". And that's what we did. We found a solution. I played that season and for the first time in yeeaaars I had fun playing. For the first time ever I really felt like I was part of the team and for the first time in years I was really nervous when I played. I didn't want to make mistakes. We're talking about women's first league in ice hockey in Germany (DFEL if anyone wants to google it). But I got better. I'm not one of the best players in the team, but I think I'll get better and better. I'll give my best. I'll be there next season as well, I hope!
What do I want to tell you with that?
Easy: believe in your dreams no matter how desperate it looks like and no matter what anyone tells you! I was 22 and didn't play for a whole season. Still I got to the place where I want to be! Most people told me I'm talentless. My self-esteem was at point zero and I never believed I would even get out of my depression.
Also I was scared I could never care for myself and would do bad at parenting. I know, I can't prove I'm good at it, but my daughter gives me so much love and laughs so much, I just believe her ;D
Nothing is impossible!
I've been insecure before, nothing new. Usually my insecurity is my place in other people's lives rather than something physical/my appearance. I worry about annoying others, pushing them away, or being too clingy. Especially when it comes to my romantic relationships - I've been trying to work past it for years. So something happened recently and I need some advice about whether I'm A) being stupid/insecure and need to knock this shit off, or if B) I'm right in feeling insecure. Back story to this situation (for just the situation skip to the green) :
So my fiance was the manager for a (different than me) pizza place. Because of recent general management changes and decisions, Kenny has decided to leave to manage a restaurant for the company I work for (more money, less stress, less strict). Anyways, there's this girl who worked for him and she's about 16-years-old (Kenny is 21 turning 22 this year). She has a boyfriend but she's always talking to Kenny at work, texting him (work related, but things she obviously already knows) and calling him (work related, stupid shit). Well I've told Kenny I don't trust this girl, I think she likes him, and I think he needs to be more wary of her. She has a boyfriend but to me that doesn't deter people.
Here's the issue, back story over:
We went to his goodbye party for the crew to say goodbye to him, and she showed up in a skimpy skirt and kept staring at him and talking to him. When I caught her looking at him, she'd look away and look upset. I confronted Kenny about it and he laughed, assuring me he's mine. But, he also said "I just don't think she likes me, I don't think she's that kind of person". To me it felt like he was standing up for her instead of for me. Then I read the note she wrote him, which was a huge card in tiny writing. She said that his management was "better than anything she could have ever asked for". And she said that she couldn't even "begin to express how thankful" she was for "everything" he's done for her from the day he met her. ((To reduce my bias and to make this more fair for her, I'm including a quote without her name in the quote area below))
Is it just me or is this a little too clingy and too mushy to be saying to your boss?
Should I be jealous? Is he standing up for her? Or am I just crazy? Someone please bring me back to earth.
This year, I published a book of Green Day fan stories and art. I wanted to document the band’s incredible impact on a diverse fanbase. So, I gathered stories and fanart from fans of all ages, from Greece to California to Costa Rica to China. All 161 pages are a truly wonderful testament to how Green Day have changed lives and the devotion of their fans. I knew I was going to be proud of it – and everyone in it – but quite how proud I was didn’t hit me until I opened up the box.
How it all began
I was making My Rage My Love My Life – a documentary of my own experiences following Green Day on tour – when I got the idea. I knew I was going to exhibit my photos. They'd quickly become a document of the fan community as a whole, rather than just myself. I thought a little book of other fans’ stories would be an amazing addition. I asked for submissions – at this point just for stories, not fanart – and made a short book in InDesign. Then I exhibited it. It was the most popular part of my exhibit (sadly, no one got in my survival bag).
Exhibiting My Rage My Love My Life in Cornwall
A while later, I put the book up for sale so everyone could read it. It was surprisingly popular!
We Are Revolution Radio, Volume 1
I knew at this point – shocked by quite how much the stories moved me and knowing there were even more out there – that I wanted to make a bigger, better book. This time, I asked for fanart submissions, too. It would be the final book, so it had to be good!
Looking for more stories and art was a slow process. A lot of people who weren’t too shy, or too busy to submit already had. I kept plugging the submission page, but there was little interest. I tried approaching fan artists on Instagram, but they didn’t reply, deleted my comments or blocked me. With my 9 to 5 job, I didn't have much time to continue going out of my way to get submissions. The deadline passed, but I never got around to printing. I felt very disillusioned with the Green Day fandom and its drama and hierarchies at the time, too. How much the book meant to me and what a great project it was faded from my memory.
When I pinned My Rage My Love My Life as an Instagram highlight, I included a few excerpts from the book. Unexpectedly, a lot of people messaged me saying they wished they’d been part of it, that they weren’t even aware of it until then, or that they wanted a copy. I went back to read it again. It immediately reminded me why I was doing it and how important it was to me and to document this. So I reopened submissions (feeling bad that I'd never got it done before!).
People now had months to submit. It was, again, a slow process, but this time I wasn’t letting it go until I’d got as many fans as possible into it!
Getting more submissions
I tried a few different strategies. One was offering the option to submit in Spanish, French or Portuguese, but no one did. I made fun and more ‘serious’ calls for submissions. I encouraged friends who’d previously expressed interest or I thought would like to be in the book. Half of my attempts were successful. My most successful plan was recruiting my East Bay native partner to speak with fan friends in the area and one in LA. Some were shy or struggled to write, so I ‘interviewed’ them or we just chatted about Green Day and pieced together stories. They were stories I’d never have found by only appealing to visible or ‘super’ fans – but they were some of my favourites and moved me to tears!
The biggest obstacle was definitely convincing shy or uncertain people their stories or art were absolutely worth a place in the book. I don’t know if I made a mistake giving people months to submit. Other than my partner’s unpaid internship at My Rage My Love My Life, the most submissions came in with my last minute reminders. Maybe I should have done that all along. It’s so easy to procrastinate or just forget to make time when you have forever to do something.
Deciding whether to publish an eBook
I had a long think about this. At first I was definitely going to offer a cheap eBook version to make it more accessible to everyone. A few weeks later I thought about how if I did, a free PDF would be much more likely to end up on the internet for anyone to see. Which isn’t inherently bad – I wasn’t looking to make money from it, after all. But the contributors shared personal stories under the assumption it would be a limited physical print people had to buy to see, not an easily accessible PDF. I also felt it wouldn't be fair to people who’d previously bought the physical book. So I decided against it. It’s a shame because I’d love it to be more accessible, but I don’t trust the internet with everyone’s stories.
Why not make more books?
A few people have expressed disappointment they weren’t in the book. Some felt I should make more books. Volume 2 is the final version, though. For starters, I don’t think expecting people to keep paying for extensions of the same book is fair. In total, people had almost two years to submit. I chased a lot of people who said they wanted to be part of it and approached others I thought might be interested. The majority didn’t reply or just never got around to it. Most genuinely didn’t have time and that’s a real shame. Before printing, some people had been waiting months to buy the book, so continuing to extend the deadline wouldn't have been fair to them either.
I really wanted as many people as possible to be part of this, but if people don’t submit, there’s not much I can do. The same will happen if I make another book. A few more people will submit, but most who didn’t have time last year won’t have time this year. I did make it clear when I opened submissions for Volume 2 that it would be the final book, so I don't think it's unreasonable.
This time, with the book being over three times longer at 161 pages, I had to use a professional – and pricier – printer instead of the simpler company I’d used before. In early February, I put the book up in my store for £14.99 until February 18th. After that, I’d put in a bulk order. If I only sold a few books, I’d lose a huge amount of money and end up paying to send the books out. It was a scary gamble at first, but I soon sold enough to cover everything. As February 18th approached, I finalised the file in InDesign and prepared to send it to the printer.
Despite having learned all about this at university, I was nervous. After all, studying something in a classroom and actually executing it are totally different things… and I wanted the books to be perfect for all the amazing people who’d supported and contributed to the project over the last two years. What if I messed it up somehow? I had a quick chat with the printer to make sure I was doing everything right and then I sent off the file.
A heavy box arrived with DPD on March 6th. I opened it and there were all my very own, professionally printed books! It was surreal.
Opening the book box (having excitedly taken a few out already!)
They were thicker than I expected. Even though I’d already published one book, this even better final product was somehow even more incredible. Flicking through and seeing everyone’s amazing art and stories there, in full colour and all their glory – I felt so proud! Despite having stared at my own art and story on InDesign for months on end, I was excited and a bit emotional to see that there, too. I knew then exactly why I’d done this and, regardless of inevitable drama, how special Green Day’s fandom really is.
Shipping the books
This was quite a big job, but also exciting! The first five orders got a little gift for their support. After carefully wrapping the books, I passed them to @Rumpelstiltskin2000 to be sealed in mailers. Her sellotape fortresses then went into a Primark bag, ready to be shipped the next day.
The parcels were transferred to some transport sacks (also known as my Pokémon backpack and Berkeley Bowl shopping bag) and we took them to the Post Office. I was a bit worried the Post Office lady might run away screaming. But no, she was professional and got it all done quickly. She even knew American Idiot. I left with a stash of comically long receipts.
And then it was done. My books had officially been published and dispatched. I felt like a proud parent. I sent out dispatch notifications, finished this and now I'm going to rest and play Pokémon.
I hope this might inspire or help anyone thinking of making their own book. If you need any guidance, feel free to get in touch!
I feel like this post is too long for the relationships thread so seems like a better place to chuck it in the blog.
My boyfriend/damn near fiance and I have been together for 3 years. BEST three years of my life. He treats me like a princess, he's kind to me, we hardly argue, and he's a sexy beast. All around, we are a perfect fit and I'm madly in love with him. I bug him about getting married all the time! We talk about the future, kids, all that stuff.
But... I still find myself occasionally seeing an attractive man (or woman, I swing both ways) and I think "damn he/she is hot" and then I feel incredibly guilty for it. I almost feel like I'm cheating for thinking these things. My boyfriend says it's normal, but I still beat myself up about it.
Please help... Is it normal to feel this way? Is it normal to notice attractive people and to not want anything to do with them, just noticing they are attractive?
This is the last of the lyrics for Angel In The Drone. I don't have anything else prepared after this, so this might be the last you hear from me, at least for a while. I hope you enjoyed all the shit that I wrote up until this point. Thanks for reading!
Lift your hands to the heavens like Babel
I'll be your sediment as long as I am able
The thread around my heart cleaves it in two
The red fibers stretch to the point I follow through
And while the world changes in the corners of the gallows
The bliss of the synapses while you're wading in the shallows
Whatever our connection is, believe me
God willing, nothing has moved me so positively
So I ended up going to the doctor's office to make sure all of my prescriptions are in order and basically an annual check-up, and I told him about my severe migraines I've been getting for the last 6 months or so. About 3 to 4 times a week, I get debilitating migraines that sometimes make it so I can't see, sometimes I throw up, and other times I get so dizzy I can hardly walk. So he prescribed me a brand new medication (and I mean this thing is brand spanking new out of the factory type thing, not many trials or anything on it). It is called Ajovy (fremanezumab-vrfm) and it is a preventative measurement for people with severe migraines. The good news is it has far fewer side affects than many migraine medications. The bad part? It's a once a month injectable - I have to inject myself. So I injected it for the first time today (it goes into fatty areas of the body and since I'm a bone rack I had to squish my tummy and inject it there). Now we hope that it helps - and if I do get a migraine, I have Imitrex to get rid of it. So that is one fraction of what's wrong with me medically (yay!)
**PERSONAL AND GUSHY ADVICEY POST**
Okay, so in my short 20 years of life I have had my fair share of relationships. Most of them short-lived and uneventful, as most high school relationships go. But, that doesn't mean that relationships (high school or not) don't hurt when they end.
I've kind of taught myself little things that help me when relationships go sour (even platonic or familial relationships!) so I don't completely break down or lose myself.
This Person Doesn't Owe Me Anything
A real problem with ending relationships is feeling the desperate need to have that person in your life still and feeling dictated by it. I always tell myself, if this person doesn't owe me money or something of that sort, they don't owe me anything and therefore have no purpose in being in my life. Helps me move on real quick. (got this little tip from @stephaniebrite on Instagram.)
Just Because This Person Is No Longer in My Life, It Doesn't Mean I am Unlovable
One of my biggest failings as an individual is placing my self worth and my personal definition of myself in the hands of others. When someone rejects me or pushes me aside, it can have a huge impact on my self esteem. That's when I remind myself that one person's opinion of me is not the true definition of who I am. Their disinterest in me does not make me less valuable, less special, or less loved. I think this is something crucial to remind yourself when going through a rough breakup.
All Things Happen For a Reason
Yes, this is cliche as all get out. But it is true! Whether you believe in fate or not, logic dictates all actions and decisions are made with some sort of reasoning. If a relationship ends, it simply means that you and that person are just not meant to mingle. Sometimes letting go is a good thing!
I Can Be Me Without Them
In life there will always be at least ONE relationship - romantic or otherwise - that's end will bring you to your knees and question even life itself. That is when it is crucial to surround yourself with a supportive network of people in your life - family, friends, therapists, doctors, coworkers, etc. It's also a great time to reflect on your life, before and after this person was in it. You were you at one point before them, right? Well, you're still you! This really helped me when my dad abandoned me. It helped me remind myself that being fatherless didn't mean I was helpless.
I Can Still Love Them and Not Live With Them
My mom's best friend married and divorced the same man 3 different times. I asked my mom why she kept marrying him and my mom told me this amazing tidbit of advice that has stuck with me: "Sometimes you can love someone with all your heart, but you just can't live with them." That has stuck with me. Moving on doesn't necessarily mean the love or feelings disappear, it just means you understand them and yourself better.
I hope some of this helps someone, it also helps get these things off my chest!
More lyrics. Second-to-last song concept on this project. Enjoy.
The Golden Glow Bends As The Stellar Engine Transcends
I thought that things would get easier with time
But the golden rays always seem brighter when you leave them behind
Celestial forces won't slow for someone like me
and it seems the Conduit must take us eventually
I look back on the old days and see the change
The facts in fiction enveloped the lies in my range
Take me back, let me go, show me the secrets that you know
Change again, become a friend, all the humanities I defend
Architect of chaos, we both know the way
As best as we get by on any given day
Climb the beanstalk to see god finally confess
Why I'm like this is anybody's guess
What love doesn't understand
is that love is never understood
It's just not some sycophantic command
or the blessings of underlying good
Perhaps the thoughts quiver too deeply;
there's no one I could envision before
That's just how the sand sinks quickly
with no thought to our nuclear core
So I guess I've changed within the year
Left the body in the rear-view mirror
Got some extraterrestrial rejuvintion
Still stuck in some corporate animation
Stumbling over my ambitions and lack of success
but who's to say these crystal graces have to end?
It's a torture that I really must confess
and a dark vapor over one of my most trusted friends
Architect of chaos, we both know the way
As best as we get by on any given day
Climb the beanstalk to see god finally confess
Why I'm like this is anybody's guess
The antimatter that surrounds us
Perhaps you can feel it, too?
You said that I made your life darker
but in a way that colored it less blue
I don't know if you knew when I revealed it to you
I had to do it to rid the parasites from my mind
But I still can't get over that you're one of the few
that made me feel the best of our kind
And only the cells know what deserves to be spared
and sometimes I hear the whispers of death in the air
We all want the freedom and the auroras from above
We want it, yes, but we want it partnered with love
*ANGRY RANT WARNING, SHIT'S ABOUT TO GET FUCKING REAL*
Oooooooookay. There's this hoe who works with us down at the pizza place (yes, I can call her a hoe, she tried to hit on my 16 year old cousin when she's 22 and sent him nudes but that's a different story for a different time). So this BITCH requests at least a week off each MONTH. LAST MINUTE. SO SHE CAN "SPEND TIME WITH HER BOYFRIEND" WHO SHE LIVES WITH. That already irritates the ever-loving CHRIST out of me. Not only does she do that, but she will call in sick all the fucking time.
So I'm covering her AGAIN tomorrow. Don't want to, but my mom needs someone who can roll dough and there's only 3 of us who can - hoe who called in, another guy with a second job, and me. So I'm covering. But I'm gonna talk to my mom about retraining a former roller to take hoebag's place. That way I don't have to work 60+ hours a week
PIZZA SHOULD NOT BE THIS STRESSFUL OF A BUSINESS OH MY GOD
More lyrics. Enjoy.
Let The Darkness Come
I can't do anything, I'm powerless
All I can do is sit alone and confess myself to no one
Endless echoes pass by and each one grazes my hand
Lit by the phone screen, thinking over and over until I'm done
It's always 4 AM, there's no time for love
The same design, the same skyline, the same sense of self-decline
It's something that never was for me
I've barely felt it before; I can continue on just fine
I don't aim for positivity, just stumbling around reality
Switching the little pleasures with bigger pains
I'm not lonely, not afraid, I can't hit the bullseye
It's a force from the afterglow that grounds me with its chains
Too many nights awake with sorrow singing to me
This wretched world where survival's the only goal
The light comes but the dark is where I belong
There's nothing to save, no image of god or tortured soul
But I guess it's not so bad in the end
I control the darkness despite the chaos I bend
Soon the rifts will pass over once more
and the elements find their platform on the shore
The future is not set in stone, the paths drift between
Though sometimes the haze swallows whatever they mean
As the horizon pulls on the break of day
we always seem to find another way
The grace of the morning brings the sigil of flesh and bone
A mark of solace that you aren't going through this alone
The cacophony of carnage and disease
is balanced by the charity and the prestige
Whatever happens, I'm glad I got to know you
Love strays from both of us, it seems
but at least it shines in someone to talk to
This could be in the work thread or something, but hell - the post would be annoyingly long so here it goes in the blog. *just to preface and so we get a lil back story going on here, I work at a pizza place in town with my momma, she's our manager and I'm the assistant manager*
Okay, so Sunday the owner of our franchise comes out to our tiny town and our tiny store and pulls my mom into the back party room to sit and chat. They're back there for about 20 minutes before they come out and ask me to join them.
First thought? "oh, fuck, I'm getting fired"
Soo my boss looks at my mom and is like "you tell her" and they do the "no you tell her" thing a couple times before they approach me about moving my mom to a busier store to co-manage, and promoting me in my current store. I was shocked and a little petrified but accepted the offer.
Moved my days off, and so I had the next day off (yesterday). I panicked all night, worrying and wrapping my head around it. Busted out a new schedule to bring with me, and I was mentally prepared for a new challenge.
This morning I get a phone call - everything is back to normal, I am no longer promoted. And I need to get my ass out of bed and get to work. And I also get my other two days off this week.
So not only am I royally fucked out of a promotion for no apparent reason, but I also lost 10 hours on this next paycheck, on the last day of the pay period. <<fuck my life>>
So it's been a frustrating, heartbreaking last 48 hours. I ended up working a 16 hour open to close shift today because our closer called in, and I feel as though I'm just not good enough to be manager (although I was assured it was because of the other store involved and had nothing to do with me).
So that's my world right now. Back to normal, just an assistant manager.
More lyrics. The title track, I guess. Enjoy.
Angel In The Drone
I'd cast the weight of the solitude aside
Let the shells fall and the militant isolation die
Running under the earth and inside the halls
The walls, they call for the relapses and the withdrawls
The trenches that my mind dwells in
The phosgene gas drowns the senses again
A parade for the dream machine but it's all true
I'd do everything and more for you
The caskets filled with pasts left behind
are buried with hindsight that finally aligned
A voice from the static and the fuzz
The buzz calls from the angel in the drone
Wicked tales you weave and relationships you grieve
I hope you will never feel alone
It's just some ratio, a fatal metronome,
lost in the mazes of my old homes
I feel the grief's hard to swallow and I just face the fact
that my musings are the byproduct of some interstellar lounge act
But when the symbols of affection are a foreign script,
longing for the fury road and entrance to the crypt
You are the only one in my crystal ball
Deliverance comes whenever I fall
Oh to stay in the mimeosome, view the invasion from the new foundation home
And in times like these I need some clarity, the puppet blocks the pain momentarily
But I can't hide forever in the past, it flashes back to the future of my iconoclast
To prove a point, we talk about whatever
The roads less traveled lead me in the direction
that sends messages to biodegrade forever
The caskets filled with pasts left behind
are buried with hindsight that finally aligned
Whenever the Ghosts take form
and the shapes the mouth makes come hard-worn
It's something that I feel far too often
and who I used to be is soon forgotten
Which strand of DNA is me?
What containment unit connects us organically?
I wanna set the heavens in motion,
traverse this malignant sprawl
I wanna excommunicate from this notion
just in time to disappear once and for all
To this day, I still get chills when I hear the intro to 21st Century Breakdown. I can still see my favourite band, as if in slow motion, running onto that stage like the heroes they were to 14 year-old me. I can see Mike thumping his heart and Tré sitting to play the show’s first beats. I can still feel the unbridled joy, the disbelief and looking back, how my life changed in that very moment.
This tour was arguably the biggest act of Green Day’s career. It was also the biggest turning point in my own life.
If you’ve read my Italy recap, you know I was unwell when I saw Green Day for the first time. For three years I’d barely left the house. I never went to school. My hope for the future was gone. While my single mum worked herself to exhaustion to support us both, my only company was Green Day’s music.
21st Century Breakdown, bringing with it the excitement of a new era, inspired me. I wanted to be like Gloria. I wanted to be able to say, one day, that I’d found a home in all my scars and ammunition and I’d never put away my burning light. Through that, I found hope. For the first time in years, I could see a light at the end of the tunnel.
‘Gloria is a person that’s trying to hold the torch for staying inspired, even as you lose a certain sense of your own naivete.’ – Billie Joe Armstrong, Radio NRJ, 2009
The first British dates for the 21st Century Breakdown Tour were announced later that year. My mum, as big a fan as me, bought tickets for four shows. I didn’t know if I could even go. After all, I could barely leave the house. How could I stand in a crowd of 16,000 people?
Before we knew it, we were in our Green Day shirts on the bus to the station. The local bus was one thing. A train to Birmingham, an unknown city, was a different story. I felt painfully obvious, like my illness was on display for everyone’s amusement. Of course, it was all paranoia. There was no one lurking to laugh at me. But either way, my love for my favourite band was stronger than my fear.
We got off the train at Birmingham Airport. It was quiet. Past a lake was our hotel. To its right was the LG (now Genting) Arena, white against the overcast sky. We checked in and wandered. Kids with multicoloured hair sat on the cold concrete, lining up to secure their spots in the pit. A line soon formed for seats. No one needed to join that so early, including us, but we were too excited not to. The arena’s walls were pink inside. We bought shirts and went to find our seats. It was when I looked at the stage, saw the album art I loved so much there, it suddenly became real.
My now well-worn shirt from my first show
Prima Donna were supporting. They opened with the jingling piano of Soul Stripper. Singer Kevin Preston soon tossed his leopard print jacket aside. Their glam rock sound kept the crowd entertained and dancing while they waited. My chest was tight after their set. Not because I was afraid – because, to my surprise, I wasn’t. As the drunk bunny stumbled around to YMCA, it was sinking in that all the live videos I’d watched of a show that seemed so far out of my reach… I was about to experience that for myself. The bunny was gone. The Ramones’ Do You Remember Rock ‘n Roll Radio? played. Then the crackling static that introduced Song of the Century echoed through the arena. The crowd of 16,000 sang along in unison. My heart was pounding with the first chords of 21st Century Breakdown.
Tré Cool ran onstage. The Big Three. Mike Dirnt. Then, finally, Billie Joe Armstrong.
With flicks of his wrists he drew roars from the crowd. My voice was another scream in the tumultous applause. The crowd clapped along with Tré’s hits of the bass drum. With exploding pyros the show began. I was screaming my favourite lyrics, the words that lifted me from stagnation, back at my favourite band. Billie Joe commanded us all to stand up. We already were, clapping as if our lives depended on it. Green Day’s ferocious energy reached from the front row to the highest tiers. In my seat that looked down on them as specks, I felt as part of the show, the mass of bodies obeying Billie’s every command, as I ever have on the floor since. It was a sense of belonging. A sense of acceptance. I felt understood. I knew I, like the other 15,999 people in that room, mattered.
Photo by Rob Ball, another fan coincidentally sat a few seats from us at two shows. We bought them from him afterwards.
The first fan was pulled onstage in Know Your Enemy. He staged dived to the pyros. Their sound was all enveloping, like a pounding warmth that attacked every cell. Everyone, on the floor, in the seats, was dancing. We repeated Billie’s ‘whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh!’ to East Jesus Nowhere religiously. In the bridge he announced he was going to save someone from the crowd. He stubbornly made his way up into the seats, heading for a young girl called Catherine. There was a long exchange before he returned. Unsuccessful in recruiting Catherine, he called up his own 11 year-old son, Jakob Danger (ensuring we knew his middle name was Danger). Jakob obediently waved his arms before allowing himself to be ‘saved.’ The crowd chanted his name while Billie sang ‘the sirens of decay will infiltrate Jakob!’ and he fell to the floor. Once the song ended, he tried to make a quick escape. Billie announced ‘hey, where are you going, Jakob, you little shit? Come here for a second!’ and promptly planted a kiss on his forehead.
‘Alright, see you later. That’s Jakob – Danger – Armstrong! Danger is his middle name.’
Jakob Armstrong onstage with dad Billie Joe to be ‘saved’ in East Jesus Nowhere. Photo by Rob Ball.
Then Billie yelled ‘do you wanna start a fucking war?’ and the show resumed with Holiday. Watching Bullet in a Bible, it was hard to imagine how chanting ‘hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!’ back at Billie in the bridge really felt. It was like a reeling high. As we screamed along to ‘the static aaaaa-aaaaaa-age!’ I just couldn’t believe I was there. The sweltering heat and my hoarse voice were reminders it was real.
Back then, we weren’t looking at setlists. My mum had no idea they were about to play one of her all-time favourite songs – Give Me Novacaine. I can still see the disbelief on her face. After all those years, working so hard she could barely wake up, she was free. Billie even announced that he was now one of us:
‘We’re still alive, Birmingham! It’s been a long fucking time, goddamn I’m so fucking happy to be back in England, you have no idea. Goddammit I’m fucking moving here, fuck this shit, I’m fucking moving. Packing my bags, I’m gonna get on a big old fucking aeroplane, I’m gonna take all my shit across the pond, and I am officially fucking English as of now! I’m bringing it back home!’ – Billie Joe Armstrong, October 27th, 2009
Another fan came up for Are We The Waiting. With a disco ball reflecting skulls around the room, it was like being in the starry nights, city lights coming down over me. It was anthemic. That dirty town might as well have been burning down in my dreams, because nothing mattered but singing at the top of our lungs. The world outside was irrelevant.
Photo by Rob Ball
Billie darted around the stage to St. Jimmy. It was more ferocious, more passionate than I could have imagined watching videos. The crowd was deafening through Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Then they burst into Murder City, a performance that was recorded for GreenDay.com. I didn’t expect that and I was thrilled. I was even more thrilled when, two songs later, they played At the Library. People were confused, wondering if this was a new song. We were the only ones in our block screaming every word. Now I wasn’t just seeing Green Day. They even went and played At the Library and Murder City.
Playing At the Library. Photo by Rob Ball.
When I Come Around’s old-school charm wasn’t lost in the dazzling show. Dancing to Brain Stew and Jaded, I didn’t feel I’d missed a thing by hearing them live 14 years after their release. Green Day were every bit the band they were in the 90s – except even more energetic. Everyone around us, young or old, was jumping.
As Knowledge came to a close, Billie announced a band of fans would finish the song. He sought out a drummer first. I was a drummer. I’d bought a poster before the show, which up until this point had been inconvenient. Without thinking, I waved it around. Then Billie was actually looking at me, pointing up into our seats like he did with Catherine. There was an exchange with security. Then I chickened out. I put the poster down. Looking confused, he went to find a bassist instead. Maybe he wouldn’t have picked me, even if I’d had the balls, but it’s still sort of funny.
Basket Case and She followed. The hits were every bit as invigorating as the rarities. The extended King for a Day, with all its goofiness, floor-humping and cover snippets, was a fun and amusing break in the intense set. Could anything top At the Library? Probably not.
‘It’s not written for two people. It’s written for about 20,000.’ – Billie Joe Armstrong on 21 Guns
Or so I thought, until King for a Day’s silliness faded to 21 Guns. I already loved this song. The music video was my all-time favourite. But I could never have imagined its rawness live. I was moved beyond words as I watched the fire rain down to ‘as a liar looking for forgiveness from a stone!’ and Billie’s added ‘whoa-ohs’ that seemed to come from the depths of his heart. Following that was emotional piano absent on the studio version. The band were silhouetted against the music video playing on the screen behind them. I might have been crying. I don’t remember. Billie described 21 Guns as not being written for two people, but 20,000. He was absolutely right.
21 Guns. You can see everyone dancing in the seats opposite us! Photo by Rob Ball.
Then the show was uplifted again with Minority. Billie thanks every crowd countless times after the solo, but each word remained sincere. Blue and white confetti burst from the stage, sprinkling the crowd as the song closed.
Green Day confetti during Minority. Photo by Rob Ball.
Finally, with American Idiot and Jesus of Suburbia, the show too was coming to an end. The crowd, drenched in sweat from the pit to the seats as if at the end of a journey with the band, watched the inimate Last Night on Earth, still and in awe. Billie began with an acoustic guitar. We didn’t yet know that with lights flooding the darkened stage, the full band would return. An emotional Wake Me Up When September Ends followed. Good Riddance (Time of Your Life), a hate song turned revelling closer, ended the set. The band bowed and waved. It was over. We charged down steps to scoop up confetti from the floor, filling two tissue packets before security chased us off. Green Day played hundreds of shows every tour. Yet this, my first show that to anyone else was just another city on a list of tour dates, was still so special. That, how every show is a precious memory to be treasured forever, is why I follow Green Day on tour.
Tré Cool tweet about the Birmingham show
Sunset over Birmingham LG Arena
We prepared to do it all again the next day. This time our seats were closer. My new-found wellness could stretch so far, though. By Holiday, a panic attack so bad I was throwing up left me listening to East Jesus Nowhere from the toilets. First aid sat me beside someone with a broken leg. There was nothing they could do. I remember passing the back of the pit, seeing the crackling gas mask image in The Static Age. As When I Come Around echoed from inside, drunks assured me I wasn’t missing anything, because Green Day suck now. It was almost comical. I didn’t want to leave, but I was too sick to stay. We returned to the hotel. It took a while, but I convinced my mum to go back. Arriving to Billie humping the floor, she recorded 21 Guns for me and saw American Eulogy, Christie Road and Macy’s Day Parade.
It was a huge setback. I was more afraid than ever to go on to Manchester. But maybe it had to happen, because it also strengthened my resolve. Mental illness would not take my favourite band from me. It could have my future, my dignity, but not my spark of hope.
We arrived in Manchester. On the bus to our hotel, we met another mother-and-daughter pair on their way to the show. I stuck six A4 sheets together to make a ‘PLAY ¡VIVA LA GLORIA!’ banner before we left.
The Manchester Evening News Arena from the bus. This is a terrible photo, but this view was so exciting at the time!
My ‘Play ¡Viva La Gloria!’ banner
This time our seats were on Mike’s side. Watching Prima Donna and the drunk bunny, I was nervous. But once I heard those opening chords of 21st Century Breakdown, saw my heroes run onstage, I knew I would be alright. I knew whatever plagued me in Birmingham, I had overcome. The songs I was hearing for a second, third time were as fresh as ever. Those I heard from outside in Birmingham were even better knowing nothing could take this from me.
Billie with seated fans during East Jesus Nowhere. Photo by Rob Ball.
Security followed Billie as he ran up into the seats in Know Your Enemy and East Jesus Nowhere. In Boulevard of Broken Dreams, he announced he’d split his pants.
‘Did anyone see my balls?’
Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Photo by Rob Ball
After Boulevard of Broken Dreams, I held up my banner. Billie stopped and squinted. People around us were screaming ‘he’s seen it, he’s seen it, he’s seen it!’ and he pointed before yelling into the band mic. They began 2000 Light Years Away. The guys behind us were laughing, saying he misread it. I have no idea if it was really anything to do with my banner, but it was funny either way – and thrilling since they weren’t playing that regularly at the time.
Oldies section. Photo by Rob Ball.
Hitchin’ a Ride was followed by Coming Clean. It was a furious performance of a poignant song. I’m sure there was the odd homo/biphobe in that crowd, but everyone was dancing. This time, I noticed a stencil of Gloria was the backdrop for She. With that, the 15 year-old song joined the narrative of 21st Century Breakdown. In King for a Day, Billie sang snippets of Stand By Me, I Fought the Law and Champagne Supernova. 21 Guns remained as emotional as that first night. Maybe even more so. Because, though I hadn’t quite figured out what yet, I knew something was worth fighting for. That bridge was my favourite moment of every set.
It was all surreal. Watching the confetti spray out again; hearing a passionate Jesus of Suburbia and seeing the show close, lights dimmed and band bowing, with Last Night on Earth, Wake Me Up When September Ends and Good Riddance.
The show closing with Good Riddance. Photo by Rob Ball
I’d reclaimed my missed show. I would reclaim it even more if I made it through the second night.
‘I like playing big places a lot. We got a chance to be playing these arenas, and I’m really grateful for that. I’m not going to sit here and say “fuck our fans, man, they’re not true Green Day fans because they heard us on MTV.” These people are paying to see me play. A lot of those kids have never heard the kind of music we play before, and a lot of them are from somewhere where there’s a single parent that works their ass off to give them $12 to go out and see us play our show. The last thing I want to do is slag on them for coming out to our show. They made us as big as we are.’ - Billie Joe Armstrong, Rolling Stone Magazine, 1996
Green Day merch in Manchester
It was Halloween. I hung back while my mum looked at merch after Prima Donna. Music was playing inside. It sounded awfully familiar. Was I hallucinating? Because I was sure I could hear Stop Drop & Roll! I squeezed past people to alert my mum.
‘Prima Donna are playing the Foxboro Hot Tubs!’
My mum stopped. Listened. Then her eyes widened.
‘That’s not Kevin, it’s Billie!’
We saw this tweet later
We ran from the merch stand to our seats. In our mad charge down the steps, we knocked over someone’s beer. They just laughed. Steps buckled and we almost fell. Everyone around us, as we stumbled clapping and singing into our seats, looked baffled. The Reverend Strychnine Twitch, AKA Billie, sprayed Carling beer – a British replacement for his signature Pabst Blue Ribbon – over the front row. His blond head darted all over the stage. Tré wore a leopard print shirt and Jason a fluffy white coat. In Mother Mary, Billie threw down his tambourine to leap into the crowd. Security helped him back up.
‘My name is the Reverend Strychnine Twitch and yes, we are the proverbial Foxboro Hot Tubs.’
The short set closed with Sally. Before we move on, I’d like to share another fan’s recollection of this from the We Are Revolution Radio book. I don’t think any trick or treat will ever match this for anyone!
Story by English fan redundantburnout from the We Are Revolution Radio book
The intro to 21st Century Breakdown still unleashed butterflies in my stomach. In Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Billie told us ‘last night in the last song I split my pants. I did that splits thing and my whole butt was hanging out after that.’ It was also the last outing of the leopard print thong. #blessed
That night, as 21 Guns faded to drum rolls, I expected Minority. Instead, in an explosion of pyros and energy Billie roared ‘MASS HYSTERIA!’ and I was swept up in exactly that; mass hysteria as I screamed along to one of my all-time favourite songs, American Eulogy, that I missed in Birmingham. In my own blurry video, I’m deafeningly loud as I bellow ‘vigilantes warning ya, CALLING CHRISTIAN AND GLORIA!’ over Billie’s ‘RIGHT HERE IN MANCHESTER!’ It was unreal. Thousands of people were in a shared ecstasy conducted by a tight performance. We watched through moments of quiet while Billie stamped his foot to solos, basking in the band’s talent and energy, religiously echoing ‘heeeeeey-ooooohhhhhh’ as Mike sang his last verse…
‘I can hear the sound of a beating heart, it bleeds beyond a system that is falling apart, with money to burn on a minimum wage…’
…and we screamed in unison – ‘I DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THE MODERN AGE!’
…and the song exploded into its final chorus.
‘I don’t wanna live in the modern world! I don’t wanna live in the modern world! I don’t wanna live in the modern world – MASS HYSTERIA! In the modern world – MASS HYSTERIA! In the modern world – MASS HYSTERIA! In the modern world – MASS HYSTERIA! In the modern world…‘
Then the music stopped and 21,000 voices, alone with Billie’s and Mike’s, echoed that we didn’t want to live in the modern world, mass hysteria… until Billie sang like an anthem, ‘nobody likes you, everyone left you, they’re all out without you, having fun!’ over Mike and, as Tré conducted with his drumsticks, we joined him.
The world could have ended then and I would have felt the bricks crashing down were healing gold dust. I could hear the sound of my own beating heart. The heartbeat of a kid stifled by mental illness now impassioned, inspired and ready to smash the silence with a brick of self control.
‘A lot of people were like, “you saved my life, you saved me from depression, you gave me hope.” All these things – it sounds cheesy to sit there and say it, but it’s true.‘ – Tré Cool, VH2 Dookie documentary
As we looked for our train home, my mum was, for some reason, driven to get on the London train. She insisted it was ours. I assured her it wasn’t and even if we wanted to go and attend the Wembley show, after blowing our money on merch we had a grand total of 2p ($0.025). Turned out the Foxboro Hot Tubs played a secret show that train would’ve taken us to. Maybe she should’ve become a psychic instead of working for the UN.
I returned to school. Though I was advised not to take on more than English, Maths and Science, I insisted on taking Art, too. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. But I knew now I wanted to be something.
One of my GCSE art pieces inspired by Green Day
‘Being in a band, you have to be a fan first. So when you meet people who have something to say about how some song affected them, those are the people I connect with. I still am that person myself.‘ – Billie Joe Armstrong in Spin Magazine, 2010
We began selling our possessions on eBay. Bags of clothes and trinkets swamped our conservatory, where light for taking photos was best. With our meagre results, my mum’s savings and some abandoned bills, we booked to attend four more shows – Hannover, Manchester, Glasgow and Paris.
This was my first time, at least that I remembered, leaving England. We could never afford holidays. So we landed in Hannover, Germany, on May 29th. Google Maps and internet access abroad weren’t really things back then. We couldn’t figure our way out of the airport. Expedia told us there was a train, but the ticket machines were broken. We ended up spending half our money on a taxi.
Expedia also boasted that Hannover Expo Plaza was full of things to do and a short train ride from Hannover Zoo. We arrived to a barren square of closed-up shops. Hannover Zoo might as well have been on the other side of Germany. The only shop was a distant gas station. We had two days until the show. It resulted in us aimlessly wandering around and filming a variety of videos whirling round on chairs and dancing in the hotel room. The most exciting moment was spotting some Green Day merch and a poster through a window.
Green Day poster in Hannover, Germany
On the day of the show, we awoke to another day of Expo Plaza fun to find some American band parked outside the hotel. There, we met another British fan, Kate. Her ticket was coincidentally just two rows and a few seats from us.
Because there was so much to do in the area, the three of us hung around to see if the band didn’t mind meeting fans. We didn’t meet them, but we did meet a lovely German mother and daughter, Julia and Iris and an Italian fan, Silvia. We also met some guys who climbed on our shoulders to let us know the band didn’t care about us.
Before the show in Hannover
As doors approached, we waited nervously with our tickets. Inside was a display promoting Green Day Rock Band, where kids tried out the ‘instruments.’ Then we filed in to find our seats. Julia and Iris were on the opposite side to us and spotted our Union Jack flag. Next to us was a Welsh solider stationed in Germany, who never missed a local show.
Fans playing Green Day Rock Band at TUI Arena, Hannover, before the show
German band The Donots opened. They were great. Then we waited, with excited butterflies, to be enraptured once again by our favourite band.
When my mum hears the 21st Century Breakdown intro, it’s this show she remembers. Billie running onstage in his red jeans, pointing at our flag, Tré sitting and blowing her a kiss, the pyros and city backdrop the band were silhouetted against.
‘Dream, Deutschland, dream, I can’t even sleep, the light’s early dawn!’
Mosh pits formed and crashed together as songs rose and dropped. They played Nice Guys Finish Last. Both of us were jumping up and down, pushing each other and dancing in our seats. The intensity between the band and the crowd was something else. I laughed at my mum and Tré’s interaction. I cried to 21 Guns. I was there, in Germany, another country, seeing Green Day. Billie didn’t sing ‘from Hannover to the Middle East,’ but I did.
Before we left, my mum bought some tobacco at the gas station and accidentally thanked the staff, who worked through our broken German with us, in Spanish. At least we provided amusement. The airport bid us goodbye with ‘see you again in Hannover – City of International Fairs.’ I don’t even know if the city is nice. We never saw it.
The excitement of seeing Green Day never changed. But there is just one thing about those first five shows I’ll never get back. I didn’t know anyone. I was just another fan. I hadn’t acquired an array of stalkers and I was unaware of fandom drama and hierarchies. No one was waiting for me to do something, anything, wrong so they could flaunt it online. There are parts of this I’m hesitant to share because someone will take my vulnerability out of context to use against me. It’s unavoidable when attending a lot of shows and having said all that, I willingly stuck myself in by making a documentary about it. Being oblivious was nice while it lasted, though.
When we got home, I saw an ad on the National Express website for coaches to the Wembley show. Well, if it was going to be that easy, we couldn’t say no. We bought tickets.
Green Day ad on the National Express website
On June 16th, we boarded another train to Manchester. We were halfway when it occurred to me our tickets were open. We didn’t have to go for the seats. What if we could make the front row? Catching a tram to the LCCC, we joined the line behind a group of blokes writing ‘GEORGE’ on everyone. The sun scorched the concrete. It was only after I agreed to become a George that I realised the sun would emblazon it over both of my arms. It was permanent marker. I couldn’t escape my destiny as a George. Then a lady saved me with some breath freshener. My mum has carried breath freshener ever since.
The line at Lancashire County Cricket Ground
It was still light when doors opened. With a speedwalk across the floor we made second row on Mike’s side. People around us had travelled from all over the UK. They were kind enough to squeeze me in. The girl beside me, who’d also been at the Birmingham shows, taught me how to hold a barrier spot. That was one of the closest things to this mythical ‘punk spirit’ I’ve experienced at Green Day shows.
Waiting for Green Day at Manchester LCCC
Frank Turner and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts opened. Then we waited for our first close-up experience to begin. The band ran onstage one by one. Up close, Mike looked perfect, as if someone had drawn him. Tré and the Jasons were unexpectedly petite. In Know Your Enemy, Billie ran all the way out to our side. He stopped in front of me and his face lit up as he pointed, looking surprised to see me on the front row. I can still see it now, preserved like a photograph in my memory. It meant the world to 15 year-old me that my hero remembered me, even though he’d only seen me from a distance in seats. Class lad, he is.
My first front row view
That was my first taste of the front row. It was also my first experience of petty catfights over front row spots, but I remember how in St. Jimmy, that all stopped; we were just one huge, thriving organism losing our minds to music, equal and united. People were being pulled out left right and centre. The heat was sweltering. Yet I loved it. I loved every second of being crushed and punched and my hair pulled. From that moment, seats would never be the same again.
‘I swear to God I would never want to be in any other fucking band than Green Day. I swear to God. I hate when bands break up. All of my favourite bands, either someone died or they broke up. It’s like your parents or something. But you gotta wheel me away in a fucking coffin to get me out of this fucking band, I’ll tell you that.’ – Billie Joe Armstrong, Lancashire County Cricket Ground, June 16th, 2010
I watched the show close with When It’s Time with tears in my eyes. Singing ‘we are all born in a world of doubt, but there’s no doubt, I figured out I love you,’ I was sort of speaking to myself, to my own life, knowing love was beautiful and real; and to my favourite band who reminded me how to love when I thought I never could again.
‘I feel lonely for all the losers that will never take the time to say what’s really on their mind; instead, they just hide away. Yet they’ll never have someone like you to guide them and help along the way, or tell them when it’s time to say I love you.’
Because, as I held my mum’s hand threading through the crowd on our way out, my heart was fit to burst with all the love it held. I did feel lonely for all the losers who would never understand.
Green Day billboard at Manchester Arena
We went home and got straight back on the bus to Wembley Stadium. Doors opened as our bus pulled in. Knowing there was no hope for front row, we hung back, taking in the atmosphere of Green Day’s biggest headline show so far.
‘When I was a little kid doing air guitar to my favorite records I never thought I’d be doing it with an actual guitar in front of that many people.’ – Billie Joe Armstrong, Kerrang, 2005
That yell of our capital city’s name is on the following live album, Awesome as Fuck.
‘Are you with me? Are you with me? This is what I need you to do. This is what I need you to do. When I say one, two, three, four – I want everybody to go fucking crazy! Are you ready? We are the class of, the class of 13, born in the era of humility, we are the desperate in the decline, raised by the bastards – ONE, TWO, THREE, GO!’
It was like a call to arms. At each yell of ‘jump, jump, go!’ Wembley Stadium obeyed. The band radiated energy.
‘Fucking Green Day is going to win the goddamn World Cup, I can tell you that now.’
For the first time since 2004, they played my mum’s favourite song – Waiting. People stared bewilderedly as we lost our minds. We laughed along as Tré played Dominated Love Slave and Billie gleefully hit the drums.
Confetti fluttered into the night from Minority to Jesus of Suburbia. I remember looking up and seeing it floating above me; stretching out my hands to catch some. The show closed with When It’s Time and Good Riddance.
Me after the Wembley Stadium show
National Express buses for the Green Day show at Wembley Stadium
A few people were late back to our bus. I took the chance to buy a £2 knock-off poster from a man who said our driver was ‘bein’ a bit of a funny bugger.’ Before we boarded, the driver said there was no way he could possibly drive off without us, because he’d remember my hair. The lights of Wembley Stadium faded away. I was jolted awake at a service station stop. We all piled off the bus. I nearly left my bag and merch, but I thought better of it. I left the knock-off poster. We bought a couple of cold drinks. My mum had been chatting to another passenger, moments before we went back outside. Where had the bus parked? We couldn’t see it anywhere.
That was because it had already left.
This is hilarious now. At the time, it was not remotely funny. It was 2am. We were stranded at a service station, in the middle of the M1, miles from Nottingham when we needed to be back in a few hours to catch the train to Glasgow. The summer heat faded to a chilly night. All we had for warmth was our Union Jack. This wasn’t even a regular National Express service. It wasn’t like another one would come by in a few hours.
A long-haired man who felt sorry for us bought my mum a coffee. We stared hopefully at the tired drivers passing by but no one was going our way. Our only hope was to contact National Express. We scanned our tickets and found an emergency number. I was fairly sure it wasn’t for Green Day fans stuck on the motorway at 2am, but it was our only hope; so with my remaining 10% battery, I called it. A grumpy voice picked up.
‘Hi. We’ve been stranded in the middle of the M1.’
‘What do you mean, stranded?’
He argued that it was our own fault. I argued it wasn’t. The driver just didn’t count his passengers after saying he’d never miss us because of my hair. Eventually the man sighed.
‘What service station is it?’
He agreed to divert a coach from Stansted and told us to go outside immediately. We waited for what felt like hours in the cold. Only cars and trucks rolled past. The bus wasn’t coming. My mum called them back (noting that this guy sounded like her call woke him up, which improved the scene). The bus was coming in half an hour, he said. It was an hour later when a Veolia coach turned into the car park. The driver’s assistant sat down to talk to us.
‘Were you at a football game?’
‘We went to see Green Day.’
‘What? Green… what?’
‘A band. An American band. Green Day.’
He looked lost. We suggested American Idiot. Wake Me Up When September Ends. Boulevard of Broken Dreams. He shook his head.
‘What kind of music is it?’
‘Rock. It’s like rock. Punk rock.’
‘Punk… rock!’ he told the driver, ‘A punk rock band called Green Day!’
We arrived in Nottingham as the sun rose. Whether we’d make our train to Glasgow was another matter. Our train and Green Day tickets were at home. We leapt into a taxi. Nottingham city taxis go as slow as possible and take the longest routes to maximise the fare. We explained our situation. The driver asked if either of us were available for marriage. We changed the subject.
Well past our 24th hour of no sleep, my mum called another taxi while we rummaged for our tickets and threw clean clothes into our bags. We made it to the station with minutes to spare. After our train to Preston was delayed, we narrowly missed our change by blocking the door with our bags. Someone was in our seats and we didn’t even bother questioning them. We just stood, basking in the relief of surviving Newport Pagnall service station.
A blue sky welcomed us to Glasgow. Misunderstood accents led to us buying the wrong onward tickets to the SECC. We escaped before the conductor reached us. From the station, we walked through the ‘SECC Walkway.’ We fondly nicknamed it ‘The Oven.’ Ever spent too long in a greenhouse? It was like that but worse.
In The Oven
We checked in and dumped our bags, finding ourselves in another episode of There’s Nothing Here. The only way out was back through The Oven. We chose being baked over more videos of us spinning on chairs in the hotel room. A chip shop offered a cheap meal. My sausage was rejected and cold. We walked back through The Oven to find the SECC was actually open and had a shop. The sausage was unnecessary.
We saw a bit of a river and a bridge the next day. Doors were still hours away. Unsure what else to do, we resumed aimless wandering. We thought someone was washing the stage trucks but it was just a guy having a piss. Sometimes I think that now I line up early, I miss all the sights, but I really don’t.
The River Clyde, Glasgow
Other fans were waiting for the band, so we joined them. I wrote ‘¡VIVA LA GLORIA!’ on my arms and held our Union Jack. Billie and Tré wound their windows down as they arrived in black cars. Tré stuck his tongue out. We chatted to a crew member who was amused by our National Express story. As soundcheck rumbled from inside, the first song we heard was ¡Viva La Gloria! so I guess that was more successful than seeing merch through a window in Hannover.
Our Union Jack outside the SECC
Doors opened. Fans trooped into the rectangular room. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts opened again. Billie wore a fan’s tie bearing the Armstrong family tartan. He wound up the crowd with statements of ‘fuck England!’ and ‘so much better than England – Scotland always is!’ Afterwards he grinned at us, as if expecting us to be pleased. Thanks, but I’m not Scottish.
In East Jesus Nowhere, Billie ‘saved’ a pair of twins. While a fan sang Longview, he took a toilet break. They played Waiting again. The arena show was intimate after stadiums. Coincidentally, the confetti was also the colours of the Scottish flag. Scooping it up after the show, all of this was still surreal. Also surreal that PCL Presents managed to get something right.
While my mum smoked a cigarette outside, a man asked if she was with the band. She said no, he replied ‘come here hen, ave got a picture o’ ye wee man’ and showed her photos of Billie, and not so wee Mike, at the airport.
Joan Jett’s drummer ate breakfast a few tables from us. Our hotel recommended some things for us to see, but we had no money left, so we just sat on some plant pots watching an incredible number of people cycle by. Glasgow is an active city, apparently.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we then missed a connection and spent the night on a bench in Manchester Oxford Street Station. I put my remaining pennies in a vending machine. Nothing came out. Of course it didn’t.
We were still exhausted when we boarded the train to Paris. Our fellow passengers thought being on the Eurostar was very classy, then there were these two Green Day fans munching cheap snacks. Emerging in the city centre, we took the metro to our hotel in the suburb of Saint-Cloud. Green Day’s crew were drinking in a bar opposite. For our dinner, we had the rest of the crisps we brought from home and some packaged ice-cream from a convenience store. If we craned our necks, we could see the Eiffel Tower from our window. Before the show, we actually – you might want to sit down for this – went to see it. We saw something! Sightseeing! It was a gr8 day. Even spotted someone else in the same Green Day shirt as me.
Me at the Eiffel Tower
On the way back, I saw another Green Day shirt and complimented it. I never expected the wearer to launch into a verbal essay about their Green Day experiences, how important they were to the band and – after asking how many shows we’d attended – how irrelevant we were in comparison. We laughed it off, because it was ridiculous, but that was the moment we realised what came with multiple shows. Anyway, we met some nice Swedish fans afterwards to restore our faith in humanity.
Green Day merch at Parc des Princes, Paris
At Parc des Princes, we found our seats and danced to Billy Talent’s set. Paramore followed. Then we were waiting, once more – with a new friend, the Paris native next to me – for Green Day. We clapped along as they ran onto the vast stage. Billie’s commands to stand up were unnecessary. Everyone already was, filling the stadium with a deafening chorus of ‘hey-oooooooh!’
‘Know Your Enemy is about empowering yourself, like within yourself. There’s no specific enemy out there. It’s just trying to stay engaged and educated to the world – being able to read between the lines and figure out what the bullshit is, but also trying to find the truth.’ – Billie Joe Armstrong, MTV, 2009
In Know Your Enemy, he waved the French flag and hugged a kid from the crowd. It was our second show out of the UK and hearing Billie scream ‘PARIS!’ was surreal. For my mum, hearing him thank us in French after living much of her life in Brussels and Geneva was incredible. In the Holiday bass solo, as red text scrolled over black screens, Billie told us in a French accent that they were going to play all night long, before singing a verse of The Saints Are Coming.
‘I cried to my daddy on the telephone, how long now? Until the clouds unroll and you come home, the line went. But the shadows still remain since your descent, your descent. The saints are coming! The saints are coming!‘
The crowd completed the chorus. Then Billie announced ‘the representative from Paris has the floor!’ and the show resumed. Stageside, Hayley Williams fangirled to The Static Age. I waved my (new, Union Jack replacement) England flag. We heard Nice Guys Finish Last and Geek Stink Breath. It was almost 40°C and people were passing out in their seats. Others did the conga through seats below. Fans jumped in unison through the pit. Chants of ‘Green Day! Green Day! Green Day!’ filled moments of silence. The atmosphere was intense.
The sun set as fire rained down in 21 Guns. Billie held up his acoustic guitar, magnified by the huge screens, through the piano bridge. ‘Merci, merci, merci, merci, merci, merci beaucoup, thank you Paris, France!’ he yelled as drum rolls led to Minority. We watched confetti cover the stadium like shooting stars against the setting sun. As the show closed with When It’s Time, Wake Me Up When September Ends and Good Riddance, rain pattered down and the floor was a sea of ‘thank you’ signs. They inspired the signs that later named Awesome as Fuck. We left, drenched in sweat and spilled beer, picking up two discarded posters that have been on our wall ever since.
Sunset in Paris
That was our last show… or so we thought. When we watched videos of the secret shows leading up to this tour, from Oakland and New York, we laughed and said ‘imagine if we could see them in America one day?’ It seemed impossible for a single parent family who’d never had a holiday until the excitement of Hannover Expo Plaza. Transatlantic flights back then weren’t cheap. But we wanted to see Green Day again, and going to America was the only way. It had to be the last few shows. Otherwise we wouldn’t have time to save up. So, we spent the summer selling our possessions while mortgage arrears stacked up, living on toast. Our destination was California. San Diego, LA and the Bay Area.
We were late to the party, though. The only tickets available were from scalpers. It soon became clear we couldn’t afford three shows. San Diego would have to go. LA tickets were too expensive. What did we do? We couldn’t afford this. I tentatively looked up flights to, and tickets for, the prior Phoenix show; even though it meant staying extra days we couldn’t really afford. Well, it was see one show or find a way to see both. So of course, we chose finding a way. We put down a deposit on a flight. As departure drew closer, things weren’t looking good. Up until the last minute, when we were able to borrow some money, it was uncertain whether we could even go. We arranged with our Arizona scalper to meet him in the hotel lobby. Then, before we knew it, we were on a plane to Washington, DC.
The queue at Immigration inched forward agonisingly slowly. At this rate, we’d miss our connection. When we finally reached the front, they took our fingerprints and stamped my passport. They didn’t stamp my mum’s. On her Immigration slip was a huge X. A clock told us we had 30 minutes. Our flight was boarding. Then security stopped us.
‘You gotta go to immigration. That room over there.’
We were confused. Uncertainly, we took steps in the direction they pointed. We were eventually directed into a small room filled with confused passengers and people in handcuffs. A lady took our passports in silence. They were at the bottom of a large pile. We heard someone else ask about his connecting flight.
‘It’s not your connection you need to worry about. Your main concern is whether you are going to be admitted into the United States.’
With 10 minutes left until our flight, my mum stepped up to the desk. ‘We’re going to miss our flight to Phoenix!’
‘You shouldn’t be worrying about your flight to Phoenix. You should be worrying about whether you’ll be admitted to the United States.’
Five minutes to take off and we were stuck in a room with Homeland Security who made me cry. When they finally called us up, they handed our passports back without a word. We’ve since found out it’s because my mum shares her name with a criminal, but at the time we were just confused.
Our flight was long gone. The corridor outside was empty but for a baggage attendant.
‘Where ya going?’
‘Phoenix. But we’ve missed the flight.’
Without warning, he snatched our bags and threw them on a conveyor belt. Our bags containing our documents and worse yet, receipts for our Green Day tickets, which we’d need to show the scalpers (having since worked for an airline, that stupidity pains me). My eyes were wide.
‘But – but where are they going? We’ve missed our flight!’
The man looked bewildered. ‘They’re goin’ on the next flight to Phoenix. You’ll get ’em in Phoenix.’
Then he turned to chat to a friend. Feeling lost and like seeing Green Day was a distant dream, we went through security again and got directions to customer service. We were on our way when my mum grabbed my arm. ‘Maria, it’s Cone!’
Indeed, Cone McCaslin from Sum 41 was wandering along beside us in Washington Dulles Airport. Sum 41 were my second favourite band at the time. I ran the UK fansite. Cone was my favourite member. I was going to see Green Day in Phoenix. What were the chances of this? But there he was. I said hi and even though his flight was boarding, he took 15 minutes to talk to us. He was at Green Day’s Toronto show that month and loved it. He said he’d remember my hair and was kind enough to sign the only paper I had on me, the 21st Century Breakdown booklet. Without a doubt, he was one of the most polite people I’ve ever met. I always wonder if he missed his flight because of us. I hope not.
Cone’s autograph in my 21st Century Breakdown booklet
Every flight to Phoenix was full. United put us on a flight to Denver to connect there. The lady on the desk said ‘I’m gonna give you these boarding passes and you’re gonna run.’ So we ran, promptly stopping to buy a Washington shirt. This was ridiculous and I wanted to remember it, after all. We arrived in Denver on time. The only notable thing on our flight to Phoenix was a guy getting so excited about his hometown he shouted ‘PHOENIX!’ at regular intervals. After 48 hours of travel, we arrived… and there were our bags, looking sad and neglected in the lobby of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. A shuttle bus driver, who said ‘I thought you were a werewolf!’ picked us up. The hotel were about to cancel our booking. We were just in time.
Phoenix from our hotel
Our scalper met us in the lobby the next day. He told us it was awesome we’d come from England and advised us to drink lots of water. We hopped in a taxi to the amphitheatre. Doors had long opened and AFI, the opening act, were closing their set.
Green Day stage in Phoenix, AZ
‘I think of rock ’n roll as being the ultimate American culture. And I always look at that and feel like that’s what I’m playing too, and that’s what I want people to look at: this is the good side of America, this is the side that doesn’t just settle for the grand scheme of things.’ – Billie Joe Armstrong, Rolling Stone Magazine, 2006
It was like everything leading up to this was a five-second dream. I was sitting in England, then I was suddenly there in the dry Arizona heat, surrounded by palm trees; hearing Song of the Century, the closest I’d ever been to a stage Green Day were about to take. Around us, the crowd chanted ‘Green Day! Green Day!’
Then the band ran on – Billie with his blond hair and striped jeans, Tré in shorts, perfectly drawn Mike, Jason in a blue jacket – in perfect clarity.
‘Buenos noches Phoenix, ARIZONA!’
I have no words to describe what hearing that for the first time was like. My words caught in my throat as I sang ‘dream, America, dream’ there, in America. I could have cried, broken down in tears of joy, but I danced them away to Know Your Enemy. We were living a dream that once seemed impossible of seeing our favourite band in the United States. In East Jesus Nowhere, Billie pulled up a kid called Alexander, stealing his earmuffs and helping him play his Les Paul Jr.
‘Security, security, get rid of this kid! He’s gonna steal my pot! Alex, do you wanna start a fucking war?’
I was as thrilled as any local with Billie’s every roar of ‘are you ready, Arizona?’ In the Holiday bass solo, the amphitheatre flushed red by lights and scrolling text, Billie ran over to our side. He spotted us, grinned and pointed.
Billie spotting us in Phoenix. Video by Sheri Hunter. All others posted from this show are mine.
‘The representative of Arizona now has the floor!’
Pyros exploded with Billie’s ‘bang bang!’ as on the screens, troops marched in black and white. Drum rolls led to Murder City.
‘The clock strikes midnight in A-RI-ZO-NA!’
Then it cut to Give Me Novacaine. ‘Oh, it’s so hot, it’s so hot, I think I’m gonna take all my fucking clothes off. Whoever gets naked tonight gets 50 bucks!’
We chorused ‘heeeeeeeey-ooooooooh!’ to tinkling piano. The crowd waved, at Billie’s command, from the pit to the lawn in sync. Instead of ‘Jimmy says it’s better than here,’ he sang ‘Arizona’s better than California!’ and I screamed approval with everyone else. It ended with ‘give me the entire state of Arizona!’ Billie couldn’t have reminded us where we were any more if he tried.
Then Tré began the intro to a ferocious Letterbomb. It was my second favourite song at the time, after only ¡Viva La Gloria! and it was the first time I’d seen it. I went insane. I was screaming, the lyrics, just screaming, turning my voice hoarse and jumping until my legs were weak.
Me dancing to Letterbomb for the first time
‘This is it! Your time is right now! This is it! There’s no fucking job you’ve gotta fucking go to! There is no boss! There’s no bullshit! There’s no computers! There’s no television! There’s no cellphones! There’s no fucking school you gotta report to! This is it! This is the opportunity right now! This is your fucking freedom! Are you with me, Arizona?’
Some fans criticise Billie’s Letterbomb speeches. But you know what? He was right. That was our freedom and I was liberated, with Arizona as we screamed to tell Billie yes, we were with him. As Tré began Are We the Waiting, Billie announced ‘my aunt is out there in the crowd tonight! She’s a resident! Right here in Arizona!’ before singing ‘are we, we are! And screaming…’ and holding up his mic for the crowd to echo him. I had one hand on my heart, one in the air, screaming ‘heads or tails, fairytales in my mind.’ I felt like Jesus of Suburbia, escaping to a fairytale city to live ‘the rage and love, the story of my life.’ In St. Jimmy Billie roared ‘are you talking to me? Are you screaming at me?’
After the crowd sang the first verse of Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Billie placed his guitar down. He proceeded to attempt a headstand. He soon fell on his ass, but he just got back up, did a dance and announced ‘I’ll fucking do anything for fucking Arizona, I’ll tell you that!’ The song was anthemic.
‘If you take a song and you get enough people singing it, it becomes an anthem, and an anthem becomes the national anthem, to a degree. I love people when they join together and sing, and it’s just massive, and it’s done for the right reason. Even if it’s just a great party.’ – Billie Joe Armstrong, Rolling Stone Magazine, 2006
Billie caught something from the crowd, threw it out, then grinned.
‘We’re gonna play a brand new song.’
My mum and I glanced at each other with wide eyes. We had no internet and no idea what they’d been playing.
‘It ain’t that brand new. This song’s called Cigarettes and Valentines!’
We didn’t know the words, but with the strangers around us, we jumped and danced as if our lives depended on it. It couldn’t have been more appropriate that it was here, in the Valley of the Sun, we danced and screamed to ‘the end of the earth, under the valley of the stars.’
The Cigarettes and Valentines performance on Awesome as Fuck
Burnout followed. If I thought this couldn’t get any better, I was wrong, because then they played One for the Razorbacks. I was drenched in sweat, watching people pass out around us, but I felt like I could pass out and stand straight back up. In 2000 Light Years Away they invited as many fans as they could fit onstage. Security guided them up, they danced, then were escorted back off. The regular oldies section followed. Seeing it here was like seeing it for the first time all over again. My mum and I were our own mosh pit, dancing and shoving and grabbing the other’s arm to scream our favourite lines. King for a Day’s fun dissolved into 21 Guns. Billie spoke into the internal microphone as he returned onstage to rolling drums. We expected Minority.
‘Sing us a song of the century, it sings like American Eulogy…’
We heard American Eulogy, in America. This mass hysteria was like the entire show’s rage, love, energy and passion rolled into one triumphant, dazzling climax as confetti exploded around us and the band.
Jesus of Suburbia
The crowd stilled as the show closed once again with Last Night on Earth, Wake Me Up When September Ends and Good Riddance. No dream of seeing Green Day in their home country could ever have prepared us for this reality. It was better.
One of Billie’s then-infamous ‘ho as hell’ tweets. Good to know he liked American Eulogy as much as we did.
The next day, we one-upped the Eiffel Tower and went to the Grand Canyon, stopping in Sedona on the way. It’s still one of the most breathtaking things I’ve ever seen and I have no doubt that without Green Day, we’d never have visited.
On our way to Sedona
Back on the road to the Grand Canyon
My mum in her Green Day Paris shirt at the Grand Canyon
This is one of my favourite photos ever.
We landed in San Francisco to find we had, yet again, managed to book a hotel with no connection to civilization. Well, OK, there was one escape route. We got on the airport shuttle, which dropped us in Burlingame, where we could take the CalTrain to San Francisco.
Approaching Golden Gate Bridge
In San Francisco, we broke our own sightseeing record and crossed Golden Gate Bridge. The sky was cloudless blue.
Looking not very candid at Golden Gate Bridge
As we walked back, thick fog blanketed the bridge and city until we could barely see. We got to see two sides of it in one visit. It was cool until we found it caused most public transport to stop running. We wandered until we found a bus that took us back.
Fog over Golden Gate Bridge
Fog over the San Francisco skyline
We passed the rest of the time Hannover-style in Burlingame, where we lived on Walgreen’s buns, because we could only afford one more CalTrain and that had to be to the show.
Sunset over Burlingame
Arriving in Mountain View
‘Music is inspiring for me, it’s changed my life, so yeah, I absolutely think music can inspire people to change their lives.’ – Billie Joe Armstrong, Absolute Radio, 2009
On show day, we got off the train in Mountain View and walked through clean streets to the Shoreline Amphitheatre. Christian protests surrounding it went ignored. Scalpers met us on the driveway, where they upgraded our tickets for the all-seated show, placing us next to Mike.
Christian protest against Green Day’s show at the Shoreline Amphitheatre
Green Day merch at the Shoreline Amphitheatre. Tré did an interview at the Live 105 tent earlier that day.
We caught AFI’s set this time. Halfway through, Green Day invaded the stage in animal costumes. Singer Davey Havok went on to play St. Jimmy in the American Idiot musical. You should check them out.
Green Day crashing AFI’s set in animal costumes at their homecoming show
Darkness was falling when Song of the Century echoed through the amphitheatre. This was it. The homecoming and final show of the North American tour. It was filled with fans from the Bay Area to Japan to Australia.
The band ran onstage together. Billie screamed the names of every unfamiliar town we’d sped past on the CalTrain.
‘Home! Home! I am fucking home! It’s been fucking months! But Green Day are back at home! In the fucking Bay Area! However… if you don’t mind, I’m gonna refer to this night as Rodeo, California.’
Mike pointed at my England flag and stuck his tongue out. When he walked out, he beckoned for me to high-five him. Instead of ‘saving’ a kid in East Jesus Nowhere, Billie pulled up an older lady who ‘saved’ him.
Green Day playing East Jesus Nowhere at the Shoreline Amphitheatre
They played Murder City and Letterbomb again. My voice that had just recovered from Phoenix was hoarse already. The seats restricted no one. I was directly in Mike’s line of view and for much of the show he pulled faces and interacted with me. I rocked out with Mike Dirnt and I’m still not over it.
We knew a few of the words to Cigarettes and Valentines now, but it was like seeing it for the first time all over again. After Geek Stink Breath was Coming Clean. Billie announced ‘this next song is about revenge!’ before Going to Pasalacqua. Everyone was jumping to Only of You. It was followed by an explosive performance of Paper Lanterns. That bled into 2000 Light Years Away. They invited fans on stage. The people in front of me were screaming at me to go. My mum was pushing me. I shrugged and said I didn’t want to. By the time I realised both Mike and Eddie (band security) were beckoning me, it was too late. I’m honestly surprised I ever ended up on stage.
In 21 Guns, during that bridge I loved so much, Billie thanked us all for the last 22 years. It was beyond surreal to hear that where it all began in the Bay Area. Then we were thrown back into American Eulogy. I can see, clear as if I’m still there, Billie spinning around as he played the solo. I can still hear the roar of ‘Bay Area!’ and see the confetti covering us. I can still see the band returning to play Last Night on Earth and feel the tears in my eyes as I looked up at the night sky. Not going to lie, I was head over heels for my now-fianceé Annabelle who was at the show, but too stupid to realise. I remember thinking ‘I don’t know who you are, but I love you,’ and knowing, somehow, that whoever it was felt the same way. A year later, we danced to Last Night on Earth in my living room.
The tears were still streaming down my face as we left because it was over. This adventure, this journey I’d taken with my favourite band that had undoubtedly changed my life, came to an end. We packed our bags and caught the shuttle to San Francisco Airport. California disappeared below the clouds.
We hadn’t even considered the Latin American tour. So of course, we got home and looked it up. This story has been retold by others in various ways, from ‘Joy and Maria randomly decided to go to Latin America 24 hours before the show!’ to ‘Joy and Maria went to [insert Latin American country we didn’t actually go to] for 24 hours just to see Green Day.’ None are exactly accurate.
Our options were Caracas (before the terrible crisis Venezuela is in now) or Costa Rica. Flights elsewhere were too expensive. We settled on Costa Rica. It was the last show and gave us longer to save up. Every day was spent photographing eBay items and packaging them. It was mentally exhausting. My eyes were sore and bloodshot from staring at the screen. Our chances of making it still seemed low. With one week left, we emptied most of what remained in our house onto eBay for whatever low price it would sell at. We couldn’t even carry all our parcels to the Post Office. My grandpa kindly drove us with his car piled high.
Me sticking cardboard over a window to get the best light for eBay photos
‘I got my education through punk rock. It may not be the biggest education in the world but I formed opinions and views on the world and society, feminism and racism through it. I think it changes individuals.’ – Tré Cool, Big Cheese, 2004
If I went to this show, I’d miss a crucial Maths exam. My only option if I did was to take a much more difficult one and teachers assured me I would fail it. Regardless, with less than 24 hours to go, we crashed into STA Travel and booked everything. We had no tickets to the show. Just some National Express tickets printed on STA Travel paper and flights to San José, Costa Rica.
That night, we were on a flight to New York. My mum was, of course, taken to ‘the office’ and we were, once again, at risk of missing our flight to San José. If we did, we would miss the show.
We escaped to find someone had walked off with my mum’s bag. Staff shrugged, said it was probably on its way to San Juan and told us to file a report in San José. I was then held up by my illegal cargo, some sour cream and jalapeño crunchy combo mix that travelled all the way from Nottingham just to be told it wasn’t welcome. Rude. We ran and made the flight. In the seat beside us, someone was making a ‘St. Billie’ tapestry. We thought it had to be a bizarre coincidence but no, she was indeed a Green Day fan from New York heading to the show.
It was a relief when we arrived in Costa Rica and my mum was let straight in. She described it as ‘I could see the screen and it had like a big light bulb on it, and it said something like “green light, no problem, admit this person!” I love Costa Rica.’ We got into a taxi with our fellow fan from the plane. The next day we were in another cab on our way to Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, stopping briefly at a Masxmenos supermarket to buy our tickets. We joined a long line at the purple-painted stadium. Men with coolers walked up and down, shouting ‘agua!’ while others offered sunglasses and umbrellas.
Green Day line in Costa Rica
TV crews arrived and filmed our England flag. Other fans posed with it. We bought knock-off wristbands and shirts. Our new friend Alejandro entertained his mother during a phone call with ‘I’m with two British girls! No, really! I’m serious!’ He and I went to a nearby McDonald’s to get food and on our way back, thought we could hear Nice Guys Finish Last. Both of us cursing in English and Spanish, we ran, avoiding potholes and cars that honked as we charged in front of them. Turned out to be techs just testing the drums. Oh well.
Green Day fans in Costa Rica
We met up with others from England, Honduras and the US who we knew from the Green Day Community forum. Sitting on bird shit in Tibás, Costa Rica, probably should have been the moment we knew Green Day had ruined us, but honestly? There was a sense of community I wouldn’t have traded for the world.
Me and Alejandro with my flag
It was dark when doors opened. Security sorted us into male and female lines. When I ran for front row, my trousers fell down. Twice. After that, we made second row. There’s a reason I only wear leggings to shows now.
In the pit, we made two more new friends, Silvia and Adriana. We’re still in touch today. The local opener, Bufonic, were great.
Then, Song of the Century echoed into the night for the last time. We were in Costa Rica, about to see Green Day. I will never, ever, forget being diagonal, off my feet, as I looked up at Billie to see him put his mic aside to check he wasn’t seeing things, then give me the most incredible look of ‘what the fuck are you doing here?’ I will ever receive.
‘What the fuck are you doing here?’ – from videos by reinierocks and lostincoma
In East Jesus Nowhere, Billie ‘saved’ a man on crutches. Watching him wave the Costa Rican flag was like a bizarre, but wonderful, dream. I unfortunately had to give up the spot after being mugged and finding my passport was gone. Silvia kindly came with me. I should have been afraid, having been attacked in a foreign country with no passport to get home, yet as Billie and Mike ran over to point at me in Holiday, I felt safer than I ever had in my life.
Video by reinierocks
The attack went over my head. It was a minor inconvenience before we resumed dancing in decent new spots. After Holiday, Billie headed to the internal mic. I heard piano.
They were playing ¡Viva la Gloria!
I was hearing my favourite song, the words that gave me hope when I thought there was none, in Costa Rica. I couldn’t believe it. There are no words to describe the unconditional happiness I felt then.
‘Don’t let the bonfires go out, Costa Rica!’
Singing Give Me Novacaine, Billie one-upped ‘Arizona’s better than California!’ with ‘Costa Rica’s the best country in the world!’ and ‘at home in Costa Rica!’ That was certainly how I felt. As the show went on, he repeatedly checked I was alright. We exchanged funny faces and he pointed as we screamed lyrics at each other. Even Tré, who I was sure had no idea I existed (and I’m sure he no longer does), nodded and smiled as he threw out drumsticks. I’d never felt so connected to my favourite band. In Are We the Waiting, local fan Isabel who I knew from Green Day Community got onstage. Billie waltzed with her.
The dreamlike fuzz only intensified as One for the Razorbacks was followed by Brat, One of My Lies and Only of You. Then Tré switched places with Billie for Dominated Love Slave. They swapped back for Disappearing Boy. I felt like we were all in a bubble, on a separate plane to the rest of the world, with Green Day. Screaming until my voice would no longer come out to I Was There, I knew I would look back, thinking I was there, for the rest of my life. Road to Acceptance was next. I’d lost my mum, but I knew somewhere in that crowd, she was losing her voice to Waiting. After Christie Road, Billie announced ‘this next song was one of the earliest songs we’ve ever written and I gotta fucking tell you, it’s my fucking favourite fucking song to play right now! So right now, I want everybody here to lose your fucking mind and go crazy and dance, are you ready?!’ and pyros exploded to Paper Lanterns. I waved my flag and Billie pointed as we yelled ‘to this day I’m asking why I still think about you!‘ at each other.
In 2000 Light Years Away, after thrilled fans danced onstage, Billie commanded us to wave as we echoed ‘CO-STA RI-CA!’ to the bassline. I still get that stuck in my head every now and then. Fans posed for a photo with my flag before Hitchin’ a Ride. I waved it when Billie asked for a drummer in Knowledge. He considered it for a moment before shaking his head, smirking, then went to find his son Joey.
King for a Day
‘This is the last show… you wanna keep going?’
The crowd roared approval. Extraordinary Girl provided a poignant prequel to 21 Guns. I had never bellowed anything as loud as I screamed ‘one, 21 guns!‘ or ‘like a liar looking for forgiveness from a stone!’ in my life. I was crying, my whole body wracked with sobs that had waited all the years I was unwell to come out. Because I had so much to fight for.
In Minority, I wanted so desperately to scream ‘no, thank YOU!’ back at the band who not only blessed us with such a set but treated me with such kindness; yet I felt at the same time I didn’t need to. Rain fell as Whatsername began the encore. It was one of the first Green Day songs I ever heard. Listening to it on radio.blog.club, trapped at home with my Canada 3000 headphones from the charity shop, I never imagined I’d hear it live… let alone 5,375 miles from that home, smiling through tears in Costa Rica. My voice was trembling as I sang with my arms raised high.
As Good Riddance closed the tour, I sang ‘I hope you had the time of your life!’ with what little remained of my voice. They played almost four hours. I had the time of my life. More than I could ever have imagined. I found my mum and Alejandro after the show. They loved it. Everyone was buzzing on a Green Day high. We were all still smiling as we spoke to staff about my passport. ‘Where are you from?’ one lady asked my mum as she blathered a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese. Who cared? We’d sort it out somehow.
While we’re here, I’d like to share another fan story from the We Are Revolution Radio book. This one is by Isabel who got on stage for Are We the Waiting.
Story by Costa Rican fan Isabel from the We Are Revolution Radio book
We walked through dark streets, stepping over cockroaches, to Silvia’s car. Thanking them for the lift, we parted with hugs and a gift of Silvia’s amazing gun earrings.
The 21st Century Breakdown Tour was over. But the next day, as we waited at the police station to report my stolen passport, there were no regrets useless in our minds. Unable to get hold of the British Embassy the day before our flight home, we resigned ourselves to being stuck in Costa Rica and went to Volcán Irazú and Cartago anyway.
Fog over Volcán Irazú
The main crater at Volcán Irazú
I might have been stuck here indefinitely, but at least it was beautiful
Heading back down to San José
On our way back, I got an international phone call. Hoping it might be Annabelle, I answered to the unimpressed voice of my aunt, who has described the relief she feels when she imagines shooting us over Green Day. Needless to say, she did not know we were in Costa Rica.
‘A man in Costa Rica has called the number in the back of your passport to say he’s found it.’
‘Where the hell are you? You’re not telling me you’re in fucking Costa Rica?’
On the road in ‘fucking Costa Rica’
I was, of course, telling her I was in fucking Costa Rica. She gave me the mystery man’s number and hung up. We called him on a hotel phone. He said he’d found my passport discarded on the floor at the stadium and, after realising we did not understand Costa Rican addresses (have you ever seen one?), arranged to meet us outside. When we got downstairs, the passport was at reception. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed I wouldn’t get a new one saying it was issued in Costa Rica.
Please don’t get the wrong idea about Costa Rica because of the passport incident. The people I met there were some of the kindest and most welcoming I’ve ever met. I’ve experienced equally bad behaviour – for far pettier reasons – from European and North American fans. The same thing could have happened anywhere.
’21st Century Breakdown is sort of a collection of photographs, or ideas, or circumstances that have happened within the past five years. Whether it’s a different crisis or a natural disaster, or a financial breakdown, people losing their homes… revenge or whatever, there’s a lot of personal and political things going on in the record. It goes through a sort of dark tunnel with different themes, to hopefully find some sense of hope at the same time.’ – Billie Joe Armstrong, Radio NRJ, 2009
On arriving home, I passed the exam I was assured I’d fail. Two years after our first show, we sat on white folding chairs on our drive. Our remaining possessions were scattered around us, our keys in the hands of a sympathetic bailiff, as we waited for a moving van to take us to sleep on my grandparents’ floor. My mum’s UN pension disappeared with the house that was no longer ours. The words ‘Green Day’ stared at us, in white spray paint, from our green bin. We laughed. We cried a bit, too. But we regretted nothing.
Green Day are the faces of an inclusive culture from a little punk club in Berkeley. East Bay punks can criticise them all they want. With Green Day shows, their culture tours the world, becoming accessible to everyone and you know what? It doesn’t get much more punk than that.
21 Guns brought me to tears on this tour because I was no longer sure life was worth the fight. Two tours later, alone on the front row in an English arena – like the very one I had to leave in Birmingham – I couldn’t stop myself crying in Still Breathing. Because I knew, thanks to Green Day, that person who almost gave up no longer existed.
I could have chickened out of ever boarding that train to Birmingham. It was a bit like the moment of fear before, seven years on, I stage dived in Champaign, Illinois.
As I walked out on the ledge,
Are you scared to death to live?
Boarding that train, jumping out into that crowd – they’re like bookends to how terrified I once was to live.
But I did jump. I did live.
Did music save my life? Not literally, no. I saved myself. But would I have found the inspiration, the hope, the will to save myself without it? No way.
Hey, 14 year-old me –
You found a home in all your scars and ammunition. Don’t ever put away your burning light.
Thanks Green Day for bringing us the season we always will remember.
¡Viva la Gloria!
Disclaimer: all of these photos were taken with a cheap phone camera long before I studied photography.
New lyrics. Enjoy.
I Would Part Oceans, But I'm Powerless At Sea
It's not something that I usually do
Try to rotate through my comfort zone for someone new
I guess you're just that worth it to me
Clearly, or else I wouldn't catch the retrograde in the sea
I can't sleep and I can barely think
The phantoms are changing and the battery's low
These notes on my phone are replacing the ink
and I go and I go until I have these thoughts to show
Raised in the age of the hopeless romantics
all the chemical mixtures come down to semantics
and I wish this game show would pull the lights from me
The heat of the spotlight evaporates all that I want to be
But maybe someday the proper notes will play
and I'll find the words that I really do want to convey
I can't say when the multiverses collide
or when my life will finally subside
But until then
Now and again
The anxiety creeps up from behind the curtain
The one I thought I had covered for certain
On the screen and filling the spaces
I left empty in my broken faces
It pulls up a chair in the front row
just to show dominance, like I don't know
I know, oh I know
I've been blissfully alone for so long that I don't know how to cope
The low glow of the lights below show the shadows that I elope
Nobody's supposed to be here, the memories are so unclear
and the alcohol brings back the starlit days of my isolation, the conversations with myself always draw far too near
Nobody's supposed to be here, the memories are so unclear
Most of me is the silent introvert but this puzzle has more cracks than it appears
Nobody used to come near, my mind was overrun by fear
But this slipped my grip when my eyes tripped and you wandered over here
I'm having such a hard time with my life right now. I'm kind of at a crossroads with what I want to do with my life. I'd like to go to medical school with a forensics emphasis so I could be a medical examiner, but I'd also really like to go to medical school and nursing school to be a nurse in the NICU, but I'd also really like to go to piercing school to be a professional piercer, but I'd also really like to go to cosmetology school... Do you see my dilemma?
None of these are really my "dream job." Just casual interests. The only problem is I live in 'Merica and education here is so damned expensive and I'm nervous about going to school for so long and spending so much money, and ending up hating what I studied and paying for a degree I'll never use until I die. (Such a positive thing - debt until I die).
So, I've noticed in a lot of Green Day's music they mention/reference religion. This can be seen in American Idiot with songs like "St. Jimmy" and "Jesus of Suburbia," being some of the obvious ones.
In 21st Century Breakdown, almost every song mentions religion in the form of saints, Christians, and religious figures.
In an interview with Bill Maher (I know he's not in the best standing, but the interview is still a good one) right after the release of 21CB Billie talks about religion and how his mother's religious views impacted his life and songwriting. Here's the link:
Enjoy! Please let me know what you think.
Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa – Domingo (1967) 8.5/10
Peter Buck of R.E.M recommended this album. It’s Brazilian but it’s an amazing album. Probably only accessible on Spotify and vinyl (as I couldn’t find a CD of this album) But has this easy-listening and folk infusion. The vocals are clean. The instrumentals are also pretty clean and easy to listen to. I think this could be an essential record for people into world music. And what I consider world music as an American is foreign for starters, and has an ethnic vibe to whatever region the artists belong to. On a personal base, I wanted to give this album at least two listen throughs before making a rating. This is the first Folk and World infused album I’ve given a chance to, and will listen to it again.
Esprit 空想 – 200% Electronica (2017) 7/10
A chillwave/vaporwave type of album. Definitely a must for avid vaporwave fans. People think of Vaporwave and only think of Macintosh Plus/Vektroid. Esprit 空想 has this chillwave vibe to their work; well with this album anyways. Generally I can’t give vaporwave more than an 8 out of 10, because of how it does sometimes blend into each song, and that can be overwhelming for my sensory issues sometimes; and could make me very tired easily. Not to say that this album is bad by any means, personally I have to be in the mood for this type of music anyways. It’s definitely not something I’d play on repeat every day.
Florence + The Machine – High As Hope (2018) 8.5/10
I’ve heard mixed reviews about this album. From the first lesson, it definitely is a hit with me. I think people didn’t like the polarizing of the tracks. Honestly, this is Florence at her finest, with her vocal range. Yes, this album might not appeal to the mainstream media (people who are fanatics of mumble rap or trending music) Objectively my favorite tracks are: Sky Full of Song, Hunger, and Grace. Indie for sure, through and through. I wanted to give this somewhere between an eight and nine for ratings, so I decided 8.5 would be appropriate (just from my personal tastes).
Earth – The Bees Made Honey in The Lion’s Skull (2009) 7.5/10
Introductory to Drone Metal/Rock. If you want to get into that genre, I suggest you all listen to anything by Earth really. This album in particular, I found via podcasts on iTunes circa 2009ish when I was a 10th grader in high school. For me personally, it does get to be a little boring after the first 2 tracks, because of how lengthy these tracks are (one being nearly 10 minutes long) with droning instrumentals, and no vocals; which is essentially the point of drone metal anyways. The album cover is interesting, I actually like it. There’s like 9 or 10 tracks on this album averaging around 6 to 8 minutes of a track. So around a 45 minute album.
Evanescence – Synthesis (2017) 4/10
Objectively, this has to be Evanescence’s worst album. The concept was okay. But the execution was highly poor. There were two newish songs on there Hi-Lo which was a demo from the previous albums, and Imperfection which was the lone new single that has been written for this album. Other than that, Amy was trying to copy what Epica, Within Temptation, and all the other symphonic metal bands have done in the past. And it was poorly executed in my opinion. There was 12 tracks on this album 2 newish songs, and at least 1 instrumental. Then the remaining tracks were rehashes of older songs/hits. The only good songs that I care for My Heart is Broken, Lacrymosa, Lithium and Hi-Lo. They butchered Bring Me to Life and Imaginary for sure. I try to dodge this album if I can when on Spotify unless it’s the remakes of songs I enjoy.
New lyrics. Enjoy.
Where Have You Been All My Life?
Sometimes I feel roped into the case of a monolithic ideal
Some Casey Paul smitten by circumstances unreal
But that's what I get for keeping my distance,
and just opening up is a symbol of admittance
If I died today, what the hell would I even say?
Would I still be dragged by it in a transhumanist sort of way?
I doubt it, but by the time this transmission reaches you
Who's to say which image is really true?
The thoughts that drift in the oceanside submarine
like when you first got me into Florence + The Machine
and when you tell me about your family,
how you all fit together unusually
At the end of the day
and all that I think
All that I can really say
*Ladies Code "Dada La" sample in italics*
You ready? High high,
baby yo' so fly
(C'mon, drift over to me)
we will make you fly
Talk through flicks and sound waves, too
It's all that I wanna be
I know I'm introverted and you say you relate
but somehow I feel this silence prevents any other state
I denied it before I met you, I think
The world was too loud and in the noise I could only shrink
Where have you been all my life?
To be fair, the timer on my hand has gone up a few times before
What have I felt all this time?
This meaningless life has lifted me from the reapers in my core
At the end of the day
and all that I think
All that I can really say
I can't sleep for shit a lot of the time, so I thought I would share some of my tips that help me sleep and other tips I found scouring the Internet. Honestly though, most of this shit is from my brain-u-lizer.
Eat at Least an Hour Before Bed
A nice warm meal and a full belly always makes it easier for me to sleep. The most annoying thing in the world is trying to sleep with a grumbly, achy stomach that really wants that beefy five layer from Taco Bell. Although, I do recommend that you don't eat super spicy, greasy, or fried food before bed (sorry, Taco Bell) because this can make your stomach sick in more ways than one and you definitely won't be asleep. I usually eat soup or a bland pasta (less sauce, I can't live without sauce) before bed so that my body has carbohydrates and calories to burn through while I sleep and so my stomach is full. Also then I dream about food, which is the best.
Don't Drink Caffeine for at Least 2 Hours Before Bed
Guilty of not following this one very closely. Love my caffeinated beverages a little too much. But this one is pretty simple - control yourself and drink something else before bed, like water. Being hydrated before bed is good for your skin and helps with digestion (like that pasta from earlier). You should just drink water all the time.
Take a Shower or Bath Before Bed
Because I'm weird, I can't sleep unless I've showered. Having that "ah hellz yeah I'm clean" feeling when you jump into bed is just the best. Especially the freshly shaven legs and clean sheets feeling. Being nice and clean just washes away the stresses of that day for me so I can go to sleep. If I don't clean up before bed, I just feel sticky and disgusting and like I'm dragging today into tomorrow.
Journal or Vent Before Bed
You know that stress you have been carrying around all day? Don't bring that BS with you to bed. Keeping a journal or venting to a dearly beloved can help take the stress and unpack it from your mind. Somehow, sharing your woes with another person helps share the burden of life.
Make the Environment Suitable for Sleepy Time
I don't know about you, but I have to sleep in a frozen wasteland with a white noise maker app thing in the background. So I have an app on my phone (it's called Relaxio - super good, free) and a fan. Other people need a lot of fuzzy blankets and pure silence. That is totally okay. I also have a little bit of light in my room when I sleep from my computer, so that helps me. My coworker sleeps with her TV on, so that might also help you.
Decide When You're Getting into Bed and Stick to It
When it's time for bed - it's time for bed. This gets your circadian rhythm set into a "I sleep now, I wake up then" type thing. Circadian rhythm and REM sleep are importante, people.
Hopefully this little bit of nonsense helps!! ❤️
Honestly, I kind of need some advice and I figured sharing my thoughts on this might help someone else, I don't know. But, here goes nothing. I have absolutely no idea what I want to do when I "grow up," whenever that is. When we were kids, we were ingrained with this thought of needing to know from day one what our future plans are and how to achieve it through college and higher education.
Now, when you peel back that bullshit logic, you get kids like me that are in their 20s and terrified because I still have no idea what the hell I'm doing let alone what my purpose in this life is. I have no clue what I'd like to do for 50+ years so I can retire and die.
None of my interests or hobbies seem to connect to a career like it does for other people. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars I don't have on classes I don't like to get a degree I might not use turns me off. It's far too risky.
I feel like a failure and I feel guilty for not going into college because my grandma acts like I'm the worst thing alive because of it. My mother and I have associates degrees in our respective fields and work at a pizza place together; we are not the favorites. However, my mother's sister and my brother both have bachelor's degrees in their fields and are the apples of my grandma's eyes. I seek approval, yet want to carve my own path. So I reach an impasse that leaves me feeling talentless, worthless, and lost.
Anyone else feel this way? The American education system is fucked up and expensive.
More lyrics. Enjoy.
By Your Hand, Your Mind, Your Bliss!
Sometimes I fight the thought that I'm selling sceneries
How close is too close when it's mental highway robbery?
I write down so many versions of myself but it's always drawn in an opaque hue
Close enough are the verses where I only talk of you
Not that you'll ever read this, but it's one way to crawl out of the abyss
And some subtle strings of vagrancies have led me to this moment
telepathically launched in silo silence with every key component
Now that we're friends it's still what I asked for just without the summer kiss
There comes a point to where I'm dumbfounded
laying your hands on me like you occasionally do
Platonic in its symbolism but I digress
I confess, it's a gesture I wish I knew
I suppose I think I know you
more than I really do
But that's why I wander in the open air
treading in the footsteps of the realization that I do care
Traversing this unexplored planet beyond the light
continuing this existence, wondering if it's right
Send the killswitch into overdrive, you make me feel alive, coming down on embezzled tours from the times that I thrive
God could come close but he just wouldn't suffice, don't think twice, I'm following the portraits for just the right price
Your touch is the blossom from the garden of glass
I could sense the warmth from the glances I pass
There's a method to the celestial bodies I seek
Your humor hits me in ways I never felt, no one touches the way you speak
And it's something I fear, this fear is alive
Obsessed with the vitriol of how we've changed inside
But you're the light; the light bounces fair
No matter the virus, I can count on you being there
Wondering if it's right