A very long time ago, Green Day was a punk band. A fairly decent one too. Like most aging rockers though, they reinvented and retooled until they became the alt-rock advertising powerhouse thing they are today. Never has the disparity between what they were and what they are been more on display than at the “I Heart Radio” festival.
No, I don’t mean the fact that they were performing at a show called “I Heart” anything shows that they put their punk balls in the industry’s hands a long time ago. I mean the fact that Billy Joe smashed his guitar, made fun of Justin Beiber with all the laziness of a Jay Leno staff writer, and then left the stage exactly when they told him to. Then he went into rehab. Punk fucking rock.
Luckily, there are still plenty of acts out there that have had melt downs, smashed stuff, and even started riots without making excuses and press releases the next day.
The Who is Explosive
Before the Who nobody ever broke anything anywhere. Glass stayed intact, electronics lasted forever, Wii-motes weren’t thrown through a single television – it was a peaceful time. Then in 1967 Keith Moon blew up his drum set with enough explosives that Pete Townshend went half deaf and Moon had to get shrapnel pulled out of his arm.
Atari Teenage Riot Actually Cause One
ATR is exactly as angry as their music sounds, starting off as an anti-Neo Nazi group and moving on to employ the kind of “rage at everything indiscriminately” attitude that most people should probably have nowadays. Except they’ve been doing it since 1995, way before hating everything was vogue. Safe to say, they discovered that digital hardcore + already pissed off anti-NATO protesters + old fashioned German police brutality is a pretty good equation for a riot.
Suicide, and Elvis Costello, Also Cause a Riot
The odds are, to the average reader, Elvis Costello is just that guy with the thick glasses and weird guitar, and Suicide is one of the bands they talk about on Pitchfork a lot that you’ll never listen to. Well, in the 70s when the first wave of British punk was just a teeming primordial soup, Elvis was kind of a bad ass. When Suicide, a synthy/industrial/new wave mash up that is famous for being a few years ahead of its time, was less than well received by a Brussels crowd – and by that I mean people threw things, chanted for Elvis, and tried to steal their mic – Elvis Costello decided to blow through a half-assed set and trash talk the crowd over it. Eventually riot cops needed to be called in and one half of Suicide got his face broken.
Pavement Shows Some Ass
Speaking of Pitchfork bands, if you meet someone who drinks PBR and has a beard but doesn’t listen to Pavement, you found yourself a rare beast. Cage them immediately. I was about 10 when Pavement was in their prime, but thanks to the internet and my desire to act like my musical taste is better than everyone elses, I discovered them and became a fan. Safe to say, the power of hindsight lets me look back and ask just what the fuck they were thinking being there. A few thrown rocks and a full moon later, and Lollapolooza’s visible decline was in full effect. Maybe they were sleeper agents for taste.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre Massacres the Brian Jonestown Massacre
As dysfunctional bands go, the Brian Jonestown Massacre makes Oasis look like the Brady Bunch. These guys, along with the Dandy Warhols, were so bad at getting along with each other as they were the members of their won bands that someone followed both of them around with a camera for a combined 8 years. Then they won an award for it. The same award that documentaries about the Civil War and the military industrial complex have won. Safe to say, they’ve had some scraps.
Dillinger Escape Plan Pretty Much Always
If there is one thing the Dillinger Escape Plan likes to do, it is play incredibly loud and fast. If there is another thing the Dillinger Escape plan like, it is breaking as much as possible. They’ve smashed amps, destroyed a Tower Records, and turned “running across people’s heads” into an Olympic sport. Most of all, they made an indelible impression at Furnace Fest by taking the name of the festival quite literally. If Billy Joe would have reacted to his one minute warning like this instead of pulling the “DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM” card, I might give him a bit more credit.
Fat Mike Pisses on (in?) Everyone While They Are Down
So Fat Mike from NoFX decided that he should do a solo project where he dresses up like a sad clown-slash-bum and plays some acoustic songs. At SXSW 2010, he gave a life performance that included a handful of songs, and more than a handful of dark, depressing anecdotes from his life, including witnessing a gang rape, the death of his neglectful father, and stealing from a friend who had just committed suicide. He bummed the crowd out so bad that the only possible remedy was a few shots of Patron. Followed up shortly by him showing the crowd a video of him pissing in the bottle before coming on stage.
He eventually came clean that he didn’t really piss in the bottle of Patron, but until the end of time I’m just going to pretend I never found that out, and that an aging punk named Fat Mike pulled off one of the best acts of performance art of all time. At least he didn’t end up in rehab afterwards. Because he really took the piss out of everyone! Hah! Get it!