Over the decades, Green Day has been described in many ways in the past: Incredible. Life changing. Awesome as F**K. They’ve completely sold out arenas. But, are they really one of the greatest live performances of all time?
When you walk in the Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre, the first thing you notice are the thousands of people packed together and the heavy feeling of anticipation. Fans are wearing Green Day shirts with artwork from Dookie, American Idiot, and other pieces of the band’s work throughout the years. Over the speakers, The Ramone’s “Blitzkrieg Pop” begins to play. The Drunk Bunny, Green Day’s mascot, runs on stage with a mini toy version of him in his hand. From messing with the band’s camera crew, to dancing without a care in the world, he manages to get a lot done in a matter of minute. And just as quickly as he darted on stage, he darted off.
The lights begin to dim as theme from the film The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly begins to play. Moments later, Tre Cool hops his way to his drum set. Mike Dirnt runs on stage not far behind, then Jason White. Lastly, Billie Joe Armstrong runs back and forth across the stage, egging on the crowd. Armstrong then raises his hands in the air like a maestro conducting a masterpiece using the roaring sound of our cheering and applause to signal the start of the show.
As the cheers die down, a single snare beat begins echoing throughout the amphitheater.
Tap Tap Tap Tap Tap Tap Tap Tap
A guitar riff begins playing along to the beat.
DO YOU KNOW THE ENEMY?
DO YOU KNOW YOUR ENEMY
WELL GOTTA KNOW THE ENEMY OH-AH-OOH!”
Sparks flew behind the band as they began to rock out. I felt adrenaline pumping through my body as I belted out the lyrics as loudly as I could. This was the constant state of the venue as a whole throughout the entire night As the song reached its bridge, Armstrong then chose a boy dressed in a black shirt and pants, red tie and a slash of green in his hair. The boy pumped up the crowd while roaring with such ferocity, you could easily mistake him for a mini Billie Joe. As he was drowned in applause, he dove into the sea of the audience’s arms and surfed back to his friends.
These sorts of fan interactions added an extra flair throughout the night and helped Green Day accomplish their major goal: making sure that rock was not just alive, but was revved up at full power.”
During “Longview,” Armstrong claims he, “all of a sudden lost [his] voice! I can’t sing anymore! I’m gonna need someone to come on stage and sing the rest of this song for me! Someone to be the new front man!”
The moment I heard those words, I wondered how fast I could sprint from my seat to the stage. Instead, a young man from the Dominican Republic scrambled onstage to sing, first holding Armstrong in a long, heartwarming hug. The man sang and roamed the stage like a rock star, wrapping his arm around Dirnt’s neck in a half hug and finished with a running start and leaping into the crowd.
The band’s most ambitious moment happened involving a young woman named Kate. Billie wanted to perform an Operation Ivy cover and needed a guitarist. Fortunately for him, Kate was just the the gal he needed. As she slowly put the guitar over her shoulder, Armstrong moved behind her and held his fingers on the fret board, teaching her quickly how to play the song. As the song turned back to Kate’s moment to play, Armstrong counted it down, “One, two, three!” and Kate ripped her hand across the strings. It was rock ’n’ roll, in all its raw glory, and the crowd went wild.
After a few more bars and a rock star-style leap on the final note, Kate was done and ready to hand Billie the guitar and walk off stage. Except, Armstrong had something else in mind…
Kate, you can keep the guitar.”
As Kate walked off the stage, Billie led the crowd, chanting her name. “Kate! Kate! Kate!” We all quickly joined in chanting her name.
As he performed, Armstrong channeled his inner St. Jimmy, showing both his rage and his love towards those who need it. He asked the crowd to shine a light on Texas tonight, before performing “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” Early on in the show, Armstrong told the crowd,
This is your night to be away from the television. I’m so sick of all the politics. That s–t is not coming in here tonight. Tonight is about love and compassion.”
Not surprisingly, it was a promise that couldn’t be kept. During “Hitchin’ a Ride,” Armstrong encouraged more applause from the audience as he bluntly stated to “screw racism,” sprinkling in a few f-bombs as he went.
He closed “American Idiot” with a simple “[Expletive] you, Donald Trump,” earning positive reception from the audience.”
During the show’s encore, Armstrong again offered fresh evidence of what a seriously underappreciated guitarist he is. His singing voice was clear and assured to the final encore of the night. A beautiful solo acoustic version of “21 Guns” then smoothly transitioned into the beloved “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).”
Meanwhile, drummer Tre Cool and bassist Mike Dirnt were, as always, a well-oiled rock rhythm machine, killing their parts on songs like “Longview” and “Bang Bang.” Jason White, a long time member of the band, strut his guitar skills during the 9 minute epic “Jesus of Surburbia,” as well as his saxophone skills with a quick cheesy cover of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper.”
The final verdict?
Green Day is hands down one of the greatest live performances of all time. The band plays an impressive three hour(!) long set, with songs spanning throughout their entire career, and then some. They’re a party which comes into your town, shakes it up, gets you hooked on them, and then leaves you wanting more. By the end of the night, you’ll find yourself drenched in sweat, but filled with so much energy that you might want to drive out of state to another performance.
Live Review and Photos by James Strassberger
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