Brooklyn’s Barclays Center was the place to be on March 15th as East Bay, California Punk Giants Green Day blew the roof off the arena. Taking their latest effort, Revolution Radio, on the road, Green Day is back after several years of hiatus from touring and recording.
The band took Against Me! out with them on this run, a well-deserved spotlight for a band with such a powerful message and nothing but good intentions. Through years of building their fan-base, lead singer Laura Jane Grace coming out as transgender and a slew of member changes, it’s nice to know that Against Me! isn’t past their prime yet.
As for Green Day, with several “turd” albums under their belt and years of living in the shadow of a record that supersedes them as artists, it’s incredible to see them perform with the passion and quality that they delivered on Wednesday night. Blazing through the “greatest hits” repertoire, Green Day gave the crowd something to sing along to, however there were some much desired deep cuts and a fair share of live-classics that never had the chance to be a single or got the justice they deserved from the general public. Wailing through “Burnout” and “2000 Light Years Away” frontman Billie Joe Armstrong proved he’s still got the spark and energy he had when he was half his current age. Bassist Mike Dirnt has been and always will be one of the most creative and groovy bassists in Punk genres and to watch him in the flesh was an experience in and of itself.
Their set consisted of a fair share of the newest effort as well as older tunes (including an Operation Ivy cover), but it wasn’t anything to write home about. However, the performance itself was nothing short of spectacular. Between the political fire lit under the ass of the group after last year’s election as well as an almost jaded sense of concert-going, Green Day delivered what felt like a small venue show in a massive capacity arena. Certainly, the basis of a Green Day show is their high-energy and crowd interaction, but in fairness there is no frontman like Billie Joe Armstrong and his presence works whether it’s in front of 20 people or 20,000. He has a charm that can put a smile on any concert-goer’s face, he has a wit to his presence where it never feels too serious, but he isn’t taken with a grain of salt. Green Day are a band like no other, their larger-than-life personification doesn’t keep them from feeling like every member of a crowd even if they’re in the worst seat in the house are an important part to the experience. One can only hope that they’ll have the energy and stamina to run around and scream on stage for two and half hours, but also perform to the highest capability like Billie Joe had at Barclays. The unsung hero of Green Day’s live show though? Their touring members. The presence of acoustic guitars or a third layer of harmony, the 5 part harmonies that call to the sheer magnificence of their records, the use of organ to add depth much like a harmonic orgasm just shows that Green Day themselves can only do so much, but what sets their live show apart from others is their impressive sense of musical depth and the ability to fill a large space like an arena with sound.
Green Day is a one of a kind experience, nowhere else will you hear a song that’s recording clocks in at 3+ minutes be transformed into a nearly 10-minute performance and keep you hooting and hollering for more. Nowhere else will people dance like idiots or scream their heart outs at a chance to be brought up on stage with their favorite band. At this point, a Green Day show is almost formulaic; Billie Joe will bring someone on stage at some point or another, Mike Dirnt will wear a sleeveless shirt and rock a power stance for half the night, Tré Cool will still be one of the shittiest drummers out there, but hold a decent beat, and you’ll hear “Shout” in the middle of “King for A Day”, but there’s nothing wrong with that formula, it works and so they stick to it. It doesn’t matter the set list, if the energy is present and the dedication taken to make the show an experience is there.
Sidenote: More arena-sized bands should opt to not use screens or a jumbo-tron, don’t force your fans to watch you through a screen; that makes it less about the music and more about your stupid face. In other words, take notes from Green Day’s latest stage plot.
A special thank you to Iman Lababedi for sending me a ticket to the show day of and affording me an opportunity to see a band I’ve wanted to for as long as I can remember
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