August 30, 2010
Cricket Wireless Pavilion
It's a mixed blessing when the band you see at your first real concert goes on to become one of the biggest and best bands of their generation.
On one hand, you probably get to relive the moment every couple years if you want. On the other hand, doing so is a Faustian Bargain of the first order. By buying a ticket for future tours you're forced to accept the band's evolution, reluctantly adding chapters to one of your life's sacred stories.
The point is this: It's really hard for me to be objective about Green Day's show at Cricket Pavilion last night. The Berkley-based trio was my first real show, almost exactly 16 years ago, during a summer I've previously argued represented the peak of Western Civilization.
So, yeah, last night's show was great. For me, at least. Not so much because of the skit that featured an Elvis impersonator or because of the pyrotechnics, guyliner or hired-gun second guitarist. No, I swooned for that special moment when the band decided to belt out "One For The Razorbacks" on the fly, simultaneously calling for fans to rush the stage. The faint odor of marijuana wafted over section 105, the security seemed a little overwhelmed by the pushing fans, and I was back at Blossom Music Center at age 13, tasting the anarchy of a truly great rock and roll show for the first time.
But, hey, maybe "21 Guns" (obviously intended as the show's emotional crescendo, it prompted cute couples to hug as sparks showered the stage) was the actual highpoint. Eh. I favored "2,000 light Years Away" and "Geek Stink Breath." Actually, I really loved "Burnout," which singer Billie Joe Armstrong introduced with, "How many old school Green Day fans are out there?"
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The song is, of course, the opener of Dookie. Sorta funny. I've never considered myself an "old school" Green Day fan; I owned Dookie before Kerplunk. But maybe following the band for more than half my life (!) gets me in now that the band's fan base was won mostly with consecutive rock operas? It's all relative, I guess.
So, yeah, us "old school" fans got a little more excited during the extended jam out on Nimrod's "Hitchin A Ride" (which ended with Armstrong mooning the crowd, a move I support philosophically if not aesthetically) than during the tight version of "American Idiot" that opened the encore. Watching some kid come on stage to play "Jesus Of Suburbia" -- a song that requires doubling the size of the original band to play live -- seemed to be pretty exciting for the folks around me. They also really enjoyed an extended medley of classic rock covers, which aptly showcased the band's musicianship, and the almost entirely acoustic second encore, which featured two tear-jerkers, "Wake Me Up When September Ends" and "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)."
Me, I just wanted Billie Joe to strap on "Blue" and churn out "Going to Pasalacqua" or "Sassafras Roots."
I don't have much to complain about, really, though. The buddy I brought with me to the Green Day show confessed his first concert was Shania Twain...
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Critic's bias: I feel like I may have addressed this above.
The Crowd: Truly all ages, from toddlers to 40-somethings. A lot more costuming than I would have expected.
Overheard In The Crowd: "Move! I wanna get up there!" when the band encouraged fans to push forward and get on stage with them.
Random Notebook Dump: "Billy Joe really captures what it's like to be 14... Handstand and split he's like David Lee Roth... Guyliner streaming from his eyes wearing an pink boa..."