“You know, you spend your fucking money to come to a fucking show and it’s my fucking honor and our privilege to be up here and to give you the best fucking show you’ve ever fucking seen.” –Billie Joe Armstrong
It’s become a personal cliche to me. Almost every Green Day show that I have been fortunate enough to attend during the 21st Century Breakdown tour, turns out to be the “best one yet.” Of course, that’s not quite possible, is it? After all, I didn’t walk away from the kick-ass kick-off show in Camden thinking it was the best show I’d been to. I had a blast, of course, but having worked that day, taken care of people to get to the show, gotten to the show just as it was starting and dealing with dickey boys in the pit, the show was still fun, but the audience (that means me) didn’t give it a 110%, and that is a major factor in a Green Day show. Green Day always give it their all, but I couldn’t put aside the day’s stress and let go. Plus, I could have sworn I was going to faint a few times in the pit. I stuck it out, but missed the 2nd Encore in search of water for fear of never feeling hydrated again in my life.
While each gig’s structure remains the same as well as the setlist most times, each show is a little different and tailored to the venue itself, depending on its size and atmosphere. But a major factor to a Green Day show is the amount of energy that an audience brings with them that fuels this band’s performance. The more energy released by the audience, the more the band soaks it up and throws it back out. I once wrote in a fangirly post titled “Green Day is Different” that because of the massive synergy between Green Day and its fans, each take what they need to create the best experience possible. Oh, and we don’t care if anyone doesn’t like them, haha. It’s a win-win situation, a beautiful give-and-take, particularly when it comes to a live Green Day show.
For two nights, over three days, I traveled to see Green Day perform in Hartford, CT on 8/12 and then again to Holmdel, NJ for their show on 8/14. I walked away both times thinking that it was the best show I’d seen for different reasons, and began thinking, what in the shows made me feel this way?
Head on over to Greenday.com and view the amazing photographs of the first of the North American Shows. Chris Dugan has really outdone himself so far in capturing the band on this leg of the tour.
GREEN DAY IN HARTFORD
Last July, Green Day hit Hartford’s XL Arena and though I didn’t go to the show, I did read the many-page thread at the Green Day Community regarding the show. The kids who went bonded tightly with the band that night and threw out requests, getting them to do “F.O.D.,” “Dominated Love Slave,” “Only You,” and “Christie Road.” Of course, some of these songs may have been planned by the band, but “F.O.D.” and “DLS” were certainly requested that night. As I read, I became more and more sad that I didn’t make the show. When it was announced that they would head back to Hartford at the Comcast amphitheater, I had no choice but to go. So, I did.
Billie Joe, at the start of a great version of “¡Viva la Gloria!” told us in Hartford that “he had done a lot of tours, that we’ve done a lot of tours, but these last shows in America have been the most fun.” And I have to say, from the shows I’ve been to over this tour, Hartford was the most playful, which is saying a lot, since a Green Day show is always full of playful experiences.
“¡Viva la Gloria!” – Green Day, Comcast Theater, Hartford, NJ – PsypherSCSU
I took the Peter Pan bus up to Hartford and was met at the bus station by a new Green Day acquaintance, Jenne, a lovely person whose 5-year old daughter is also a huge fan of Green Day. Jenne would go on to surprise her daughter with her first show in Mansfield, MA, later in the week. At Hartford’s show, I also met up with Nicole, who was at that first Foxboro Hot Tubs show in New York City. Nicole would surprise her 5-year old son to his first show at Holmdel two days later. Green Day has become a family affair, complete with spitting, cursing, and sometimes, masturbation (a lot less than the American Idiot tour, for sure) and it’s all good! Jenne and I arrived to the venue in plenty of time, and met up with the usual suspects: ToniAnn, Stephanie, Geraldine from Albany (who I had met at MSG1 back in 2009), Shannon, Briana, David, Mary, Rich and Billie De (the couple who helped me onstage during “I Fought the Law” at the FBHT show at Don Hill’s), Luanne and her daughter, Allie (who had traveled from Chicago’s Lollapalooza to attend the shows in Hartford, Holmdel, and Mansfield); and Rory, my soundcheck buddy from MSG2 in 2009. It was fun hanging out with everyone, and when we finally got into the venue, we were raring to go.
I hadn’t caught AFI’s gig at Camden, and I don’t know the band’s music well. I enjoyed them more than I thought I would. They added that extra opening spice to the show that I had only encountered seeing from one opening band before them, and that was Prima Donna’s two London appearances at the 02. AFI were engaging onstage, all over the place and had a nice exaggerated style. The more their set moved on, the more they and I got into it.
I started this show uncertain of where to be in the pit. So many people where there that I knew and I wanted to share the show with all of them. I ended up about four or five people from the barrier, and I have to say, there were so many girl fights this night, that it made me laugh. Girls were getting into arguments with each other left and right, though I have no idea why. The pit was a bit rough, but since it was mostly dicky women instead of dicky boys, it was much easier to deal with. Luckily, a really amazing thing happened during one of those “Everyone And Their Mothers On Stage Now” moments that have been happening lately, were the band pulls up a bunch of people and completely covers the stage in fan bodies. Mary R. got pulled onstage and I made a move that I will never regret: I headed straight for her spot at the barrier and spent the rest of the evening hanging out with David and G.L.O.R.I.A.!, who had sang “Longview” at Hartford last year. Mary R. made it back to her spot (a little bit more cuddly with her beau, David by this time), and I was in the spot that I love for the rest of the night: right under Mike (uh…) with a great view of Tre as well, and so close that it was great to be able to play directly with them. Mike threw me a pic, and I caught it, WITH ONE HAND, and he… was… impressed. I’m pretty happy to have one. It says “DIRNT XXX.” :wub:
They’ve done “Give Me Novacaine” at Camden, Hartford and Holmdel. I remember hearing this number for the first time at London’s 02 back in October. It was great there, but the sound of the large arena drowned the song out a bit at the beginning of the tune and it was difficult to figure out what was being played until well into the number. The sound at Hartford and Holmdel both had excellent quality (Camden’s bass sound was off, sadly), except for some glitches here and there at Holmdel. It was great hearing Novacaine!
“Give Me Novacaine” – Green Day at Hartford, August 2010 – PyspherSCSU
Hartford was the first time that I had heard “Whatsername,” sung live, and this show as well as the Holmdel show contained two of the best 2nd Encores that I’ve seen. Holmdel, truly beat them all, though. Here’s video to Whatsername, complete with an asshole at the end who wrestles Tre’s drumstick away from someone, but still, it’s a great 2nd Encore nonetheless.
At either Camden or Hartford, I can’t remember now, at a few points, those in the seats started banging their chairs in ecstatic appreciation of what was happening on stage, and the sound roared through the venue. I turned around and just looked at everyone standing up, right there, right in the moment, as the banging cascaded throughout the place and added that bit more fuel to the performance fire from the stage. I love it. Bring the boys your all, and they’ll give it back to you in the same amount and more. This is the main difference (to me), of my perception of the show in Camden and the show in Holmdel. I was able to give it 110% at Hartford, and got that back in spades.
On a serious note, I want to wish Jill (she of the epic Green Day Shenanigans tattoo seen above), a speedy recovery. About 12 hours after the Hartford show, Jill suffered what doctors think is a mild heart attack, was in the hospital for a few days and now has a stent. Jill wasn’t even in the pit that night, but sitting on the lawn. That’s how hard Green Day rocked. Get well soon, Jill, that’s certainly giving your all to God’s favorite band!
GREEN DAY IN HOLMDEL
I had been to the PNC Bank Arts Center back in the 1980s and I believe saw Berlin and the Thompson Twins perform. But don’t quote me on that lineup, because I barely remember. I do know that I’ve been there, and I’ve seen it many a time on the way to the Jersey shore. The show was located deep in the middle of Nowhere, New Jersey in Holmdel Township. It’s a great amphitheater venue, built in 1968 of concrete acoustical pillars on the side of a hill, a natural acoustical space and the sound in the venue is amazingly clear. So clear, in fact, that Billie Joe Armstrong’s voice sparkled like polished glass reflecting in the sun. Holmdel brought us another amazing second encore, a soaring and heartfelt rendition of “When It’s Time.” Audience members were so close to the band that many of them were able to take high quality video of the performances, and we are truly lucky to be able to hear them for as long as we can.
“Minority” Solo with a Pretty Hollow Body – BJA at Hartford – YourBestShotMedia
Jill T. and I had been discussing at the Hartford show a guitar that Billie Joe pulled out that we had never seen before, and wondered if it’s one of the new guitars that Green Day tweeted about shopping for during their stop in Buffalo a few weeks ago. Billie Joe played a long solo on it during “Minority” on both nights and Kimberly caught a snippet of it being played during “American Idiot.” I asked one of the mods at the GDA, Eirik, what he thought, and he had never seen him play it before, thinking that it was possibly one of the studio hollow bodies being used on the road. I have no idea, I just like the sound!
In fact, the sound was so amazing at this show that there were moments where I felt like a multitude of angels were singing all once, starting from Billie Joe onstage and rising up with about 17,000 attendees. At one point, I just stopped dancing, closed my eyes, and listened to the sound bouncing off of the concrete. The sound was so resonate that it made a few occasions of feedback (especially during “Jesus of Suburbia”) noticeably stand out during the night. No matter, though, the night climaxed with that same version of JOS filling the space with a rousing, fist-pumping, adrenaline rush.
I think I annoyed a few people around me during the show. I came with Dawn, Nicole, and Michael. Our seats were in the 300 section of the venue, which made me really sad at first because I felt trapped in the upper level, when everyone else was down below in the 100 and 200 sections. I ended up standing with Luanne and her daughter Allie, in the aisle way right next to the soundbooth (Billie Joe had announced that everyone could fill up the aisles down below because no one would be sitting during the concert), and we had a great time rocking the aisle. I had so much room to dance that I got a little wacky, and Luanne and I did choreography from American Idiot on Broadway. Dawn mentioned that security had come up near us during the “I Don’t Care” movement of JOS as we were doing the faux 7/11 hand-to-shoulder fight scene. I’m sure everyone around us thought we had lost our bloody minds. To me it was a perfect example of giving that 110% of performance as an audience member, matching the energy given by the band onstage and creating again that synergy of complete connection between band and fan. And man, was it friggin’ fun!
Some of the many audible highlights of this night: “Who Wrote Holden Caulfield,” featuring AFI singer, Davey Havoc; the soul-rousing and fist-pumping rendition of “Jesus of Suburbia” [see Youtube below], “Letterbomb” [VIDEO LINK HERE] and one of the most epic “Longview’s” ever, complete with an American Sign Language teacher who was so good that she got a guitar at the end instead of the singer. [See Youtube below]. Oops.
“Longview” – Green Day, PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ – xGeneralxS
“Jesus of Suburbia” – Green Day, PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel – SHUTxChristinaaxUP
When It’s time / Wake Me Up When September Ends / Time of Your Life – Green Day, PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ – RockConcertNo1Fan
As we were stumbling to our cars back to the city after the show, I heard Green Day’s music pouring loudly out of the back of a pickup truck where three burly New Jersey men were tailgating in the parking lot. I really wish that I had been of the mind to grab my iPhone to take a video when I heard the first notes of “Horseshoes and Handgrenades” blasting out, but I had broken my glasses earlier in the night, and I wasn’t thinking straight. In a recent post, I mentioned that I would love to hear “Horseshoes and Handgrenades” at least once on this tour, along with “Peacemaker” and a couple of others from 21st Century Breakdown. I found myself walking brusquely over to where the three dudes were cleaning up their area a bit and I asked if they had been to the show that night. They said yes and then I asked, “Hey, wouldn’t you love to hear this song, ‘Horseshoes and Handgrenades’ played live?” One of the fellows bellowed, “Yea, I have never understood why it wasn’t a single! It shoulda been a single!” and I concurred. There’s been talk from folks in the pit lately that they have seen lyrics to “Peacemaker” taped at Billie Joe’s feet for the last few nights, but it hasn’t happened yet. The anticipation isn’t killing me, but I am pretty excited for the possibilities!
My next tour stop is Montreal! See you French-Canadian Idiots there!
Hartford and Holmdel setlists after the jump.