Memories… like the corners of my mind… misty water–colored memories…
Ah, what can I say about the three days I just spent with Green Day? This one is going to be tough in a 1,000 words or less (yeah right), so let’s just get started. And sorry it’s taken me a while to write this up, but you know, I was busy. I really do have a life. No. Really.
Albany, Times Union Center, July 25, 2009
I have never, in all of my days, deliberately gone out of town to see a band. Sure, I’ve traveled as far as say, Nassau Coliseum or the Meadowlands from the epicenter of Manhattan, but never 360 miles. Maybe I should have done it more when I was younger, but hell, shit happens. It felt good.
Three things stand out for me at this show: the epic pranks (watch out, it’s The SNOO!!) exchanged between opening band The Bravery and Green Day, the thrashing exuberance of Welcome to Paradise, and my green lei that I had picked out from my costume chest and brought to Albany in hopes of presenting to Billie for a song. He wore it for St. Jimmy, but I’m not sure if it necessarily worked for the song. I was thinking more for King for a Day, but Billie asked a fellow nearer the catwalk (whose picture I’ve seen at greenday.com) if he had something for him, but their handoff timing didn’t work out quite right. It’s always good to have a theatrical backup in case of costume malfunction. It didn’t really matter, of course, because Green Day blew St. Jimmy out of the water in Albany. I have never seen a rock performance like this St. Jimmy in my life (the MSG shows included). I keep looking at the video (and not just the lei) and thinking: my God, did I live through that performance or was it just a dream?
Massive traffic from NYC to Albany almost drove me crazy, but I had an iPhone jack in the car, so I was cool with my shuffled Green Day albums, and I arrived in Albany around 3:30, much later than I planned, and found a parking spot about two blocks from the stadium, which happened to be across the street from the band’s hotel. They were getting into busses about this time, so I just stayed across the street and smoked a cigarette and watched. I had to take a breather from driving so far, too. I was kinda wound up from the drive up, anyway.
I didn’t wait for the busses to leave, feeling kinda stupid just hovering across the street, under some shade. I turned away and walked the two blocks to the stadium and while the line was longish, I was lucky to meet some cool people, like Elana and her friend David, and other folks whose names slip my old mind at the moment. I hope Elana doesn’t mind my saying, but at one point I realized that she had hearing aids on. I asked her if she knew that there were loud booms in the stadium, and she gave a thumbs up and said, “Yes!” We were headed directly to the barrier, and I wondered what would happen when Mr. Cool blew the flashpot during the Bravery’s show, a ‘tradition’ on his part that had started ’round ’bout the Seattle show. Being from the GDC, she had already heard about them and was ready to be blown away.
Since I was visiting the armpit of New York State, Albany, by myself, the Verizon picture guy, Chris, took a photo with me. He says he takes photos with everyone who’s alone at the hundreds of Green Day concerts he’s been to. Aww… thanks. The pictures are supposed to be up 72 hours later, but the two I took with him, at Albany and the 2nd MSG, still aren’t up while the second one that I took with my friend Liz (see Pt. II) is up. It’s been five days already. Maybe he doesn’t want to seen with a hot 45-year-old woman. Well, that’s his bad! Bwahaha. No, seriously, Chris is a very cool guy though don’t tell him I told you that. A little hyper-active, but… I might just shock him when I show up in San Antonio at the end of the week, if he remembers me! Double bwhahaha.
There was also a lady selling buttons and wristbands down the line to pay for her Albany ticket and to make some money to head to the MSG shows. I saw her later at MSG2. The vibe of the people were for the most part cool. I also saw the guy with the dyed blond orange hair who eventually would sing a verse in “Longview,” I can’t remember his name, but whatever you do, don’t call him Lars.
Since I was going to see the band twice in the pit, I decided to attend Albany on the stage right side of the barrier, near Jason White, because in Madison Square Garden, I wanted to hear Tré’s drums from the foot of the MSG stage. I actually pondered this question a few times in thinking about the shows. I wanted to experience the music very close, but I also wanted to see the technical aspects of the staging from both sides, the full range of the stage. Plus, Elana and David had staked out spots directly at the stage right barrier already (the younger folk move quicker), and after becoming line friends and vowing to protect each other, I hung with them. I still had MSG to go at the time, but I will be getting to stage right when I hit San Antonio. I get to be right under the bass section again. I swear, the drums…can’t even be described. Ah, bliss.
Anyhoo, I was directly in front of the barrier and the security station onstage, behind the graffiti wall with spray-painted lyrics. Halfway through the Bravery’s set, which I thought was pretty good, I actually liked their Bauhaus/Goth/Pop/Morissey sound, several TREMENDOUS BOOMS began.
I had heard that Tré regularly set off giant flashpots in earlier shows during the Bravery’s set. I’m pretty sure that Tré likes explosions. The first time it happened in either Seattle or Vancouver, I can’t remember which, everyone in the theater thought something crazed had happened, and they would be right! It was a Tré-like character but not Tré at all! Both Tré and the Tré-like character like explosions. I think I’ve read that it’s been one a performance. Well, on this night, they kept going off. And going off, and going off. I think there were like five booms before the first furry farm animal (actually wild animals – the shock of the concert hadn’t warn off yet when I posted a picture earlier staying farm) appeared onstage and it just soared from there. Really, one can’t write about the experience or actually convey it in any way that would be understandable. It just wouldn’t make sense. Watch the video. And marvel how your memory is not loaded with that one-on-one spectacle. Out of the fucking blue. Brilliant. This experience brought home for me a lot regarding what Billie says at the beginning of each show: put your fucking cameras away and enjoy the moment, here and now, it can never be relived again. If others chose not to come tonight for whatever reason and miss this time together, then fuck ’em, it’s our time. At the same time, it’s fucking great to go back and look at the snippets of video that are out there. It’s a strange balance. But forget the philosophy, it was a great fucking show. Blew my heart away.
All hail the prankery of The SNOO!
I will say, though, that when I think about the green lei, I get so deeply doubtful. It’s really weird. Here I was, involved in this great sea of play, and so worried that I had played the wrong lei/scarf/hat/underwear/thong/boa/sunglasses. Doubts. All the fucking time. Sigh. He’s just lucky he had costume backup! Bwahaha.
It was a great show. Mike was on our side a lot, man, he’s got long legs! Billie, on fire (metaphorically, of course), went into the audience from our side of the stage. I loved being able to see the backstage workings of the gig. In this show, the stagehands set up two storage trunks, one horizontal, the other vertical that reached the stage stairs, and then went with him to the stadium seating every step of the way. It was quite an exciting moment from a theatrical point of view. Smash that damned fourth wall.
I really hope they stick with playing “Welcome to Paradise.” It’s a message that people should be hearing right now. And so wonderfully danceable. While the show itself fades from my memory but the experience doesn’t, the last thing I’ll point out is the Bravery getting back at the evil Green Day pranksters, all of ’em! EVEELLL, I tells ya. Yes, Billie Joe, we saw you sneak some TP-gun time from backstage. Can’t fool us! Bwahaha. It’s funny, but some people around me were speculating about which wild animal suit Billie was in. I thought to myself… hmmm, he ain’t in one of those things. He could have hurt himself! I also wonder how many die-hard fans were in attendance in Albany who knew who The SNOO was… or more importantly, why The SNOO is…
Anyway, the Bravery – two of whom were in cute frilly girlie outfits from having performed with the band in “King for a Day” – brought out a huge “Woodstock 94” banner during “American Idiot” and threw clumps of dirt around in honor of Green Day being so old as to actually have a legacy stretching back to 1994. Oh, and in homage to the craziness of that moment in time when Woodstock became Mudstock, never to be relived again, even by the people who were there. Only memories now. The Bravery were so clever as to bring clumps of dirt with them and throw it around. One reviewer thought that the clumps were wigs. Uh… ok. I guess he’s never heard of Mudstock before. It was also funny that the Bravery ran off like girls when Billie Joe turned around and claimed how mad he was… and then started to laugh. I think they even squealed as they left.
Billie, Mike and Tré sure do have a lot of memories crammed into their heads. Good times.
Ultimately, for me, Albany did something I’ve rarely seen in theater, let alone a stadium concert: smash the theatrical fourth wall. Audience and performers can become one if you let it happen. It’s hard to do. Here’s a performance example of how to make it happen:
St. Jimmy – Green Day – Albany, July 25, 2009
Song of the Century
21st Century Breakdown
Know Your Enemy
East Jesus Nowhere
The Static Age
Before the Lobotomy
Are We the Waiting
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
Hitchin’ A Ride
Welcome To Paradise
Disappearing Boy [I Don’t Know, Sweet Home Alabama, Crazy Train, Iron Man, and Free Bird included]
King For A Day
Shout [Swanee, I’ll Be There, and Earth Angel included]
Jesus Of Suburbia
Last Night on Earth
Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)