The “Revolt of the Golden Toads” Bay Area Tour!

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goldentoad300x300A guest blog post by Reverend Billy, leader of the Church of Stop Shopping, an activist performance group based in New York City

The Church of Stop Shopping returns to New York now, after a week in the Bay Area.  A highlight:  we launched the “Extinction Resurrection” campaign at the front doors and inside the big banks that finance climate disruption. Then, each evening we went indoors to a concert stage–and direct activism spiced up the prayers, songs, and shouts of “Earthalujah!”

In “The Revolt of the Golden Toads” tour, we concentrated our crawling and hopping on JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America–which move billions into coal-fired power plants. We believe that the Golden Toad was forced into extinction 25 years ago by drought conditions in their cloud forest home–destruction that was funded by these banks.

Our impact this week in San Francisco? It is impossible to make Nielsen Ratings from activism. Clearly more and more people know they must now be Earth radicals. Put some URGENCY in the EMERGENCY. Our post-big-daddy-god church, with the wonderful music, tries to activate direct action. In nine Bay Area performance events we had something short of 2000 individuals in our audiences. Our media coverage was good and in our interviews we tried to be guided by the Extinction Resurrection theme, which is surreal and funny–but people get it.  It’s about survival.

We’re not celebrities. Celebrities don’t “Stop Shop.” So we have to land the message manually. During “Toads” we went at it non-stop for 6 days and 6 nights. The upside for the non-celebrity approach is this: it builds communities. (We call people who join our church–the citizens of “Earthalujahville.”  For instance, we were fed, transported, and offered beds by Earthalujahville citizens as we zig-zagged around the Bay.)

Everyone in the Stop Shopping Church experienced Hurricane Sandy–and the super storm created our new songs and put us into the masks of extinct beings. Last November we were left thinking that Earth is destroying consumerism on purpose. Earth is interrupting the sale. Why? Because consumerism keeps us a bunch of little apex predators and that adds up to a horrific Super Devil. Then again, anything that distracts us from this Eco-pocalypse is the Devil and must be cast out.

Extinction Resurrection. The Dark and the Light. Honest assessment of the current environmental movement leaves us feeling dark. But the ecstatic release of a good direct action raises us to the light. Darker and Brighter. Extinction and Resurrection. It’s the up and down and up of Evolution. We felt the darkness when we performed at Oakland City Hall and felt the memory of police violence there during Occupy. But moments later we unloaded some happy toad gospel at the Chase Bank across the street. They closed the bank and locked the doors after our first song. So they had to seal off the hushed high church of the bank. So we sang on the sidewalk and sent happy curses up into the surveillance system. Eventually we’ll be naked animals hopping on Jamie Dimon’s desk. Earthalujah!

We wish to thank RAN for posting these reports. Now the toad hops back to NYC, then over the Atlantic.

To be updated with Rev. Billy and The Church of Stop Shopping tour dates, click here for tour dates.

Photo Credit: Steve Rhodes

14 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. pat says:

    “Put some URGENCY in the EMERGENCY”… right on, Rev!

  2. Susan Rubin says:

    I’m thankful that we have creative people in the world like the Reverend Billy and his Stop Shopping Choir who use music and art to wake the world up to the very scary realities we face. I hope to see more Golden Toads and Bees and other creatures buzzing around bank lobbies across the country so that people connect the dots and understand the damage we are doing.


  3. Amanda says:

    Thank you Reverend Billy and the church of Stop Shopping for bringing your creative activism out to the west coast. The banks you protest, Chase and Bank of America, collectively financed more than $5 Billion for the U.S. coal industry in 2012 – making them the biggest funders of the single biggest source of climate pollution.


    How many more Superstorm Sandys do we need for Wall Street to wake up? How many more species like the Golden Toad will go extinct before that happens?

  4. I have no doubt the actions is the Bay Area were impactful and resonated deeply. Every time I take part in Rev. Billy’s actions or see a show, I am inspired anew to make the Earth my FIRST priority. Thank you Billy and Choir for being our conscience. Can’t wait for those naked animals on Dimon’s desk!

  5. Andy says:

    Yes, Reverend Billy, as Amanda said, thank you to you and the Choir for bringing your challenging-message-wrapped-in-delicious-uplifting-activist-performance, to the Bay Area once again!

    As a volunteer throughout the Revolt of the Golden Toads Tour, I was able to see first hand the impact this message and performance had on thousands of people in university classrooms, bank branches, sidewalks, plazas, and theaters across the Bay Area.

    No doubt you and the Choir are putting the “Urgency in the Emergency,” waking up the listless, as well as inspiring countless hard-working activists to continue on in the do-or-die struggle for Mother Earth. Keep it up. The struggle needs you. Earthalujah!

  6. Marie Fontana says:

    Thank you, Rev. Billy and Shop Shopping Church members for leaving your comfort zone and risking yourselves to the devils on the West Coast! Truly you are the brave ones and they are the cowards. Closing a bank is a real feat. Let the choir rejoice.

  7. Marilyn DeLaure says:

    So great to be a part of the Extinction Resurrection Tour launch. Many happy returns, to Rev Billy and the Choir, and to the Golden Toads and many other species. Let’s get busy!

  8. dianne budd says:

    Thank you SO for coming to the Left Coast to spread the message of catastrophically emergent radical whimsy – now that i’ve seen the Golden Toads i mourn their departure from this tiny planet. i want to compost the Chase-Based Evil Doers and use their carbon to invite all extinct species to give us another try. Eventually we’ll learn how not to be so rude to those we share space with.

    The music was fantastic and the spirit contagious; performances delicious. i could use an infusion of Rev and Stop Shopping more frequently – it is so easy to despair that we’re beyond survival – you bring music and catalyze us to playful serious action.

    Time for us all to seriously embrace our whimsy, to get exorcised and get active!! xoxo

  9. Barbara R. Lee says:

    I am blessed to have had the opportunity to don the Golden Toad head and join Rev. Billy and our family of Mother Earth lovers. People need to acknowledge how our shopping, greed and neglect for our Earth is causing our fellow inhabitants to die off. Educate yourself, find out where you can volunteer to grow plants or save animals. Walk instead of using fossil fuel to get you places.
    How many more unnecessary deaths or species exterminated before we realize that us humans are destroying the planet? When we destroy the links that bind us together, we make it easier to sow the seeds of destruction. Let’s stop now and save our Earth and it’s inhabitants.

  10. Laura says:

    My favorite part of the frog invasion was the line from the choir’s song, “Do you have free checking for Golden Toads brought back to life?”

    So funny asking the tellers that in song.

  11. gusti says:

    The Golden Toad tour is one of many colorful examples of Reverend Billy’s brand of truth-telling antics that brings critical environmental and social justice issues home in a fun and playful way to the corporate perpetrators and plunderers, while bringing awareness to those who may not otherwise be paying attention.

    Kudos and thanks to Rev. Billy and the fabulous Earthalujah choir!

  12. David says:

    What a wild ride it was to come to my home, the Bay Area, with Reverend Billy and my Stop Shopping choir to do some good ‘ol singing in public space and golden toad resurrection! Putting on a giant toad head and hopping into a Chase bank might seem silly until Rev Billy testifies to Chase’s primary role in funding fossil-fuel extraction and, by extension, climate change.
    This spring, it’s Golden Toads. In the summer, we’ll be honey bees, and come the fall, get ready for the Siberian Tiger, rawwrr! We’re never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy.

  13. Lover of Life says:

    Creative activism at its best! Extinction Resurrection, yes! What a great way to bring hard statistics to life. This is something the activist community desperately needs–keep preaching it, Rev!

  14. Thanks to Rev, Savitri and the choir for another fantastic visit. We must put the urgency back into emergency. We also need to put the urgency into our choices and community. Wake up Bay area! Wake up world! Turn off your tvs and screens.

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