Today I’m on my way to Cleveland, Ohio for the first time since 1998. My family lived there during my preschool years before we moved to Georgia, and while I have vague memories of trips to Sea World, Indians games and my 5th birthday party, I don’t remember the city itself at all. I’m excited to explore yet another new city this year, and it definitely called for a blog post. We set out this morning in a car equipped with snacks, plenty of music and two crazy kids willing to chase after each other’s dreams.
What’s the occasion, you ask? Well, the idea began when my boyfriend and I heard the announcement that his all-time favorite rock band, Green Day, were being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. Before I started dating Vinnie I knew and liked Green Day (by that I mean I had illegally downloaded most of their radio hits and found a few other lesser-known tracks), but I didn’t put them in the same category as my favorite bands. I was a naive listener who didn’t fully know what this band was all about. But, I was open to learning and I was lucky to start dating the best rock music professor I’ve ever known. Vinnie has the best way of explaining things, especially when he’s passionate about it. His electric excitement surrounding (what I had thought was) a seemingly overhyped anti-establishment punk band sparked my curiosity and prompted me to dive into more of their music, and really listen this time. Not that I had a choice, because Vinnie was going to unapologetically blast one song after another each time we got in the car together. I have to thank him for it though, because if it wasn’t for that I may have completely overlooked this extremely talented, versatile and in-your-face rock band that I’ve come to know and love. This is just one of the many amazing ways Vinnie encourages me to look at things from new perspectives. He’s pretty good like that. If you still need some convincing, just read up on Rolling Stone’s latest article; it paints a solid picture of the band’s 27 year-long road to get to Cleveland. It makes our ten hour car trip seem like a blink in comparison.
So we talked it over, and knowing we were unable to afford the tickets to the actual induction event, I started grasping at straws. I didn’t want to give up on the idea of going just yet. Lucky for me, I came across an event that the Hall of Fame Museum was hosting; a simulcast where they broadcast the Induction Ceremony live and uncut. If you’re unfamiliar with the R&R HOF, the Induction Ceremony takes place in April and by late May it is turned into a 3-hour long special shown on HBO. We didn’t want to wait until May for it to air, we didn’t want to miss out on the action, we didn’t want to see an edited version of the greatest event (so far) of Green Day’s career. Basically, it was an easy decision to spend $50 on two tickets to the simulcast rather than try to play the lottery to afford the $1,400 tickets to the ceremony itself. And after all, we were overdue for a road trip.
However much I feel I’m a fan of Green Day, I know it doesn’t come close to the deep connection of loyalty and love that Vinnie has for the band, and especially their frontman Billie Joe Armstrong. Saying Vinnie is passionate about Green Day is an understatement. He’s waited for hours to be front row for a show, knows Green Day Guitar Hero like the back of his hand, learned a hefty number of their songs on guitar (and some drums), gotten a tattoo of their lyrics (recently touched up!), dyed his hair to be BJ for Halloween on more than one occasion (once jet black for the American Idiot era and once bleach blonde for the Dookie era), and has plenty of memorabilia (always still collecting though!). Beyond that, Vinnie has taken every one of Billie Joe’s words to heart. Green Day challenges their fans to be independent thinkers, and it connects with Vinnie in such a way that he practices the band’s philosophy of intense self-efficacy every day of his life (and it has inspired me to do the same). He has such a respect and appreciation for them that it goes beyond anything tangible. It was built over the course of his teenage years where he turned to their music to make sense of what was happening around him in his life. There was never a day where the band let him down, and I could relate to that with my love for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. To see his favorite band reach such an accomplishment as being inducted into the Rock Hall is something that not every music fan gets to experience. I knew as soon as the announcement came out that Vinnie needed to be in the city, in the atmosphere, experiencing this monumental event in the history of this band that means so much to him. He hadn’t seen them perform live in years and I could tell he needed to fill his rock and roll soul with a big ole helping of Green Day.
Next thing we knew, we were jumping in the car on a pilgrimage to our Mecca. The shrine of Rock and Roll music. The Hall of Fame. This is the place where countless talented artists have been given the nod of approval, a place solidifying their accomplishments for all future generations of music lovers. It is a stamp that marks bands as true contenders and contributors to the history of music. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were inducted in 2012, and I’m beyond excited to check out their exhibit, among others of course. I’ve always loved music but only recently have I really wanted to know all that I can in terms of music history. The idea of being in a building full of so much rich music culture is so humbling and the thought alone gives me chills.
As if we weren’t excited enough about Green Day being inducted this year, it’s no surprise that they’re in good company. While Green Day is this year's only band that is being inducted in the first year they're eligible (a seriously notable accomplishment, as the Rock Hall has been known to snub a few worthy rock bands), the 2015 Induction Class features so many other incredible artists including Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Ringo Starr, Lou Reed and a few older blues musicians I’m not as familiar with. Each inductee will be presented by a band or artist that has been heavily influenced by them. The star-studded lineup of presenters includes some of my favorite artists including Fall Out Boy (15 year-old me is especially stoked), John Mayer, Miley Cyrus (I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ll be fan-girling over her all night), Paul McCartney (yes, both of the living Beatles will be there!) and the legend of a man that is Stevie Wonder.
On top of that, there will be additional performances by Zac Brown Band (the only country band I like nowadays), Dave Grohl (a member of freaking Nirvana, founder of the Foo Fighters, and one of the best modern drummers of all time; I’m ecstatic!), Joe Walsh (I grew up with the Eagles, so duh I’m excited), Gary Clark Jr. (Vinnie saw him with Kings of Leon last year and said he’s an outstanding performer), and also Beck and John Legend. That doesn’t even include the performances by the inductees and presenters. And I’m dying to find out what fun on-stage collaborations will take place. Seeing multiple artists join in on one performance is characteristic of the Induction Ceremony, and it’s a rare opportunity to see super jams with a group like this.
The more I think about this year’s ceremony the more surreal it feels that not only will we be in the same city as these amazing people, but we’ll have a one-of-a-kind experience by watching it live. I feel so lucky that I’m able to make this trip with my best friend and see that amazing smile on his face when we watch Green Day take their place alongside so many rockers that have influenced both of us. Tomorrow night is sure to be incredibly memorable, so stay tuned for my next post that’ll give you all the details!