29 July 2009

Stephanie Rocks Out With Green Day

Much has been said and written on the subject of empowering young girls to take their rightful place in the traditionally male-dominated rock and roll world. My friend Jessica Hopper has recently published The Girl's Guide To Rocking, which appears to be getting a great reception, and deservedly so.

But Monday night at Madison Square Garden, I saw Green Day and - more importantly - a girl called Stephanie do more for the cause of girls rocking out than all the riot grrrl bands in history laid end to end, and sorry if that sounds like a poor choice of words, but I honestly didn't mean anything salacious by it.

Those of you who follow Green Day will be aware that it's a long-standing tradition to invite audience members up on stage to sing or play instruments on some of the songs. Back in the 90s, most of the invitees would be boys, but nowadays the gender balance tends to be pretty equal. What people may not know is that those invited up are not chosen in advance; Billie picks them out of the audience based on his gut feeling as to whether they'll be up to the task.

Monday night he was looking for someone to play guitar on "Jesus Of Suburbia," a nine-minute rock epic with multiple chord and tempo changes. Much as I - like, no doubt, a million other fans - have occasionally harbored fantasies of jumping on stage with the band (I've actually played guitar with Billie in the studio once, back in the Neolithic era, but never on stage), I found myself ducking behind somebody else when he was recruiting a JOS guitarist, because there's no way I could play that song sitting alone in my room, let alone in front of 20,000 people.

But Stephanie swore she was up to the task, and boy, was she. She was so at ease with her guitar that before long she was wandering the stage just as the Green Day guys do, and singing along with Billie on the lead vocals. At the end, Billie got down on his hands and knees in front of her and did the "I am not worthy" bow, before leading all of Madison Square Garden in a "Steph-a-nie" chant.

I can only imagine what it must have been like for Stephanie, who, with her torn Misfits shirt and matter-of-fact attitude, didn't look like the kind of girl accustomed to being on the receiving end of wild adulation, but she took it in such stride that I'm inclined to think of it as a life-changing experience. Look it this way: from now on, any boy unwise enough to taunt her to the effect that "chicks can't rock as hard as guys" or somesuch similar foolishness can quickly be put in his place with a well-timed, "I had Madison Square Garden in the palm of my hand; what the hell have you done, sucker?"

Here are a couple videos of Stepanie's performance (Green Day were no slouches either):

There's also a nice little blurb about it in today's Times.


Leah said...

Oh my, Stephanie (and Green Day) rocks so hard.

LMB said...

My very shy teenage daughter got chosen to sing onstage with Green Day last Friday night in Hartford:

Not only did Susan get to hug her all-time favorite musician (several times), she belted out the last verse of Longview, chatted onstage with Billie Joe like they were old buddies, and, with some urging from Billie, took her first ever flying stage dive off the catwalk. I can't even put into words how much this meant to her, and I really think the experience is going to have an effect on the rest of her life. I'm so pleased that I was there, getting smooshed against the rail and feeling 16 again myself. I could never thank the band enough for the magic spark and forever memories they gave us. It was truly epic!

s.m.t. said...

Stephanie most definitely made me feel proud to be female. She was fantastic. That stint made her famous amongst the fans after the show when she was spotted at the will call window on the phone. The crowd proceeded to chant out her name in recognition of her performance.

Anonymous said...

Didn't they dedicate a song to you at the show? What song was it?

Larry Livermore said...

No dedication as such. Billie did mention me during the breakdown part of "Disappearing Boy" when he did a little snippet of Led Zeppelin, something about Larry having been on acid in 1977 when he heard this song. And it was true to an extent: the last time I'd been to Madison Square Garden was for a Led Zeppelin show, and I was on acid, but it was 1973, not 77.

Stephanie said...

Hi I'm Stephanie and I would just like to say it is an honor for you Larry, to even mention me. Thank you so much for this. I don't know what else to say. I just have been at a loss for words for days.

Tom said...

Steoh i have a picture of us that day...! i would like add you in facebook my complete name is Tomas Mujica