Here’s to You Suburbia
If you woulda told me back in the day that the post-hardcore pop punk band Green Day were to be responsible for one the most touching and relatable, well produced and polished musicals on stage in 2014, I’da told you to bug off.
But American Idiot is just that. If you grew up a misunderstood, misguided youth in Suburbia, USA – this musical is about you and your friends. Truly.
When the album came out in 2004, it was different. If you owned the album, you might have gotten that it was a concept album. But if you were a casual fan of the band, like myself, you heard the songs as they were released – separate singles and in order of best for radio play. And they were cool. Allegedly, frontman Armstrong said, "As soon as you abandon the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge song structure ... it opens up your mind to this different way of writing, where there really are no rules." [Thank you Wikipedia – that’s legit, right?]. The album was made to be a rock opera.
Now jump forward to the musical adaptation. It is one act – one long act with no intermissions. It is comprised of songs only – 21 songs, no words except the very occasional one liner. It is performed with a full rock band located on stage - rocking hard. The set is intricate; a city block scape and rock club interior both at once, with large TV screens set within its walls projecting wild images (think early MTV – when it was still good and about music). On stage, the crew effectively arranged movable props to draw your eye into the proper setting. A lot is going on quickly, the music driving the energy driving the emotion of the story itself.
I won’t go too far into the story… I’ll only say it follows the lives of three young angst ridden men living in Suburbia through their completely different paths to finding themselves. The performances were polished, well orchestrated and well delivered. Many of the situations brought tears to my eyes as I empathized with the characters.
American Idiot was a hellofa good roller-coaster ride. Here’s to you Suburbia for creating such dynamic emotional baggage, and to Green Day for recording it.