Avril Lavigne at the GRAMMY Museum
Photo: Alison Buck
Avril Lavigne Has Always Known Exactly Who She Is
17 years ago, a Canadian teen named Avril Lavigne skated her way into our hearts with her debut album, Let Go, along with unforgettable hit singles like "Complicated" and "Sk8ter Boi." She was just a teenager when the GRAMMY-nominated LP was released in June 2002, but she already knew who she was and felt ready to share her punk-rock style and sensibilities with the music world.
As she recounted to 250 lucky fans at her GRAMMY Museum event last night, Lavigne famously dropped out of high school at 16 to move to Los Angeles and pursue a music career. Clearly things went her way, as she is now one of the most recognizable names in pop—and through all the pressures that come with being a young woman in the music industry, she never lost sight of who she was.
Photo: Alison Buck
Speaking to Scott Goldman in the Museum's Clive Davis Theater, the eternal punk princess, rocking all black with punky suspender pants, reflected on her musical beginnings, that unyielding self-confidence and the impact her music has had on the next generation of female alt-rockers. They also discussed her sixth studio album, Head Above Water, which she released earlier this year. To close, she brought out two of her bandmates to share a few songs they've been rehearsing for her upcoming tour, her first one in five years.
Looking back on her initial experience with the L.A. music industry, she explains that they didn't quite get her at first. "The music was too soft and fluffy for me… I just wanted to hear guitars, even though I was only 16," Lavigne said. "The label saw me as a pop star," she added, musing that pop-rock wasn't so much a thing yet, in the early part of the millennium. She knew she had to be clear with who she was in order to prove herself to those who didn't understand it.
"I'd show up to a high-fashion shoot with a book bag of neckties," she explained, a testament to her confident demeanor and edgy style. Sharing some wisdom on how she managed to be so much of herself at such a young age, she said, "You have to love yourself and find your confidence."
When Goldman asked what her early music, specifically her first two albums, sound like to her when she listens now, Lavigne replied that she was proud of what she wrote as a teen and hears "variety and a lot of depth."
Goldman also asked what it felt like to be a role model for the next generation of guitar-loving women, citing rising alt-rockers Soccer Mommy and Snail Mail, who've named those early albums as major influences to their own music. "It's so cool…to know that my music inspired or influenced anyone," the "Complicated" singer beamed.
Avril Lavigne al Grammy Museum cantando in versione acustica la sua Hit “Girlfriend”pic.twitter.com/LuxscYJeH4
— AvrilBestItalian (@AvrilBestItalia) September 6, 2019
The much-anticipated performance included two songs from the new album, opening with the title track and closing with the anthemic "Warrior," as well as two of her '00s hits. After serving up a powerful rendition of "Head Above Water," Lavigne went into one of her "favorites to perform," "My Happy Ending," from her second album, Under My Skin. Before breaking into the chorus, she asked the audience to join her. She asked the crowd what they wanted to hear next, and over a dozen selections from her discography were shouted out.
Lavigne gave the audience a chance to be heard, listening, before responding, "'Girlfriend' should be fun." She was right.
Finally, in an epic act of on-stage cuteness, as Lavigne got up from her stool to exit the stage, the suspenders hanging from her pants got stuck, evoking a laugh. This was the perfect time for the crowd to request an encore, and she left everyone on a high note with "Warrior," even getting fan-assistance with a lyric she forgot on the new song.
As the fans filed out of the theater, a teen with hot pink hair and a cutoff plaid shirt turned to her dad and said with wide eyes: "I'm seriously shaking."
— Avril Lavigne Charts (@AvrilLCharts) September 6, 2019