Hair Alert! BJA Gets A Haircut Maybe for his Lady, 80! (Click on Pic for More Mainz Pics!)
Mr. and Mrs. Billie Joe and Adrienne Armstrong celebrate their wedding anniversary tomorrow, on July 2nd. Congratulations! I wrote about their anniversary last year and I have nothing to add except for a hearty mazol tov and many happy returns to you both!
Green Day appeared in Mainz on July 1st and played some “It’s Fuck Time” during the “Shout” portion of the evening. I’ve heard it’s a little bit different from a Foxboro Hot Tubs rendition of the song, ahem, so we’ll have to compare the versions if something shows up on the InterTubes. Billie Joe got a haircut, too, looks a bit like Elvis! Maybe he’s getting all spiffy for his lady, Adie, yo yo on his Anniversaire!! Holla!
Tomorrow night the band will be in Belgium at the Rock Werchter 2010 festival and then end the second leg of their European tour on July 4th in Venice, Italy, land of water and love at the Heineken Jammin! Festival. Sounds like a lovely place to spend some anniversary and family time after the Heineken and love hangover. Have an awesome vacation!
Cheers to the entire band and crew for a fabulous European tour. See you all in Northern America in August! We are ready to rock.
Party! Party! Party! Tour Last Stop: Trenton, 4/24/10
The Party's Over. Party! Tour Says Goodbye
Baby, Lady, Chinatown, Night Moves, Gryptron at Don Hill
The day after Friday’s Foxboro Hot Tubs, Honah Lee, and the Mystic Knights of the Cobra, gig at Don Hill’s in Manhattan, I scrambled to catch a train out to Trenton, to be picked up by Michelle. We headed to Honah Lee Tim’s backyard for a BBQ in the garage made into a bar (an awesome space for clandestine outdoor shows some day), and chilled out before heading to the MillHill Basement for the last stop on the Party! Tour. Honah Lee’s Jim, Dim, and Tony were there while most of the MKOTC had stayed in Manhattan except for Trell, who smartly went to Trenton after the Don Hill show to chill in “the country.” Everyone didn’t meet up again until we all arrived at the little basement venue in downtown Trenton, a room three times smaller than the Bowery Electric would turn out to be, with muchlower ceilings.
Now That's a Low Ceiling! Millhill Basement, 4/24/10
Honah Lee's Tim Introduces the Cobras at Millhill. Photo by Rachel K.
As there was the wet of sweat everywhere from Friday’s show at Don Hill’s, Saturday brought the wet of rain from the miserable drizzle happening outside. Both bands were exhausted (four straight nights of playing and partying is hard to do, particularly when you open up for one of the biggest “secret” bands on the planet by the third night) and the smallness of the room, with a tighter, packed house of about 75, was suffocating. Honah Lee and the MKOTC took full advantage of the lack of room and air and the excess of wet, and were all up in the audience’s faces. Though both bands possess the ability to confront their audience, Friday’s extreme FBHT performance rubbed off on both of them. They threw themselves at the audience and the audience, a bit shocked, began throwing themselves back at ’em. The rain kinda made the fact that the party was over, a bit sadder. At bar closing time, the Cobras headed to their hotel, and I went off with Honah Lee. After all, I am of the East Coast, and as always, I had to break myself away from the pull of the East Bay. Plus, the van was full.
The next morning, Michelle, Jim, and I went to the Cobra hotel for one more goodbye. Tim, last seen distraught on the sidewalk outside of Millhill, was way too hung over to attempt a goodbye, and Dim and Tony… who the heck knew where they were? With Bryan behind the wheel (he was the engine for the MKOTC, driving the van and wrangling the instruments) and some of the MKOTC having left earlier, I hitched a ride back to the City with the Cobras, and gave my return train ticket to photographer and music buddy, Michelle, who I hoped would go home, change, catch the next train to Manhattan, and come to the FBHT show with us for one last fling with friends. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and it was the final parting of the Party! Party! Party! East Coast Tour.
Pre-Sunday Show – 4/25/10
I dropped my stuff off and went to the venue. I was 60th in line. There are two reasons why I wanted to go to this show. Of course, FBHT was one of them. The other? I wanted to be with friends. Folks who had made each other’s acquaintance, in many shapes and forms and of all political persuasions, over a band. Sometimes it feels like a wonderfully dysfunctional family. And it’s always a hella good time.
Tre and his Bike. Photo by unknown photographer
The line was made up of the usual suspects and many new folks that I had never seen or met. Beth from Missouri (so happy she came back!) and J’net from Oklahoma (who had had a great week all around); Dawn showed up with baked goods (and yummy they were) though she couldn’t stay for the show; crazy sexy Zoe from Oregon with her British dude; Jaime (who provided me with food as I was broke and hadn’t really eaten yet and was feeling faint; the shot of J.D. that I had in line didn’t help either); Cheryl and her husband, and the vivacious ToniAnn, the latter three from the Island of Staten. Andres from the Green Day Authority had stuck around and was holding Dawn’s baked goods to give to the crew. (I would see them eating the delicious brownies later after the show.)
Foxboro Hot Tubs Bowery Electric ticket with morning after sake.
I stood in line from about 3:30 and they gave out tickets at 6:00 or so. It was rainy and cold and miserable outside. By the time 6:00 came around, I was exhausted and barely had energy to stand. Once the tickets were distributed, I went back to the Cobra hotel to hang out, dry off and sit down for a few hours before the show, maybe take a nap. I was close to collapse. By the time we walked back to the venue, I was running on fumes and needed to find a second wind somewhere. Or maybe a fourth by this time. I walked up with the Cobras, but they were on a list, and I was determined not to, at the least, look like, a hanger-on. I had my ticket in my hand and parted from them, walking up to Bill Schneider who was handling the guest list and I sorta proudly flashed my ticket up to him. “See, I have my ticket, baby,” I thought only to myself. Of course he had no idea that my brain had melted from over the last week between the American Idiot opening on B’way and the Party! Tour or at least he probably thought that I was just crazy from the look on my face. I’ve never spoken to him, and he didn’t seem in too good a mood at the start of the show. Probably a lot of stress managing two Foxboro Hot Tubs shows in three days. I can only imagine the logistical nightmare of it all.
Sunday Show – Foxboro Hot Tubs and Emily’s Army – Bowery Electric – 4/25/10
Tiny Space, Big Band. Photo by Bob Gruen
Sunday’s show at the Bowery Electric had a different feel to it from Friday’s more laid-back Don Hill experience. Whereas Friday seemed more lighthearted and giddy, Sunday’s gig seemed darker, grittier, drunker, and slightly more raw. (Then again, I realize that I don’t remember that much about it, except in chunks of drunk.)
(Read a review of Sunday’s Bowery Electric show at Rolling Stone here, though note that RS reported that FBHT did only one GD cover, “St. Jimmy,” when they actually did two, including “Blood, Sex and Booze” as well as “Supermodel Robots” by that crazy German electro-pop-insane band, The Network.)
The Bowery Electric is a split two-level basement site with a high bar rail separating and overlooking the deeper pit area of a floor and stage about the size of my old studio apartment in Brooklyn. Ok, maybe a teeny bit bigger. Sunday’s Foxboro Hot Tubs show was a semi-private party for the cast of American Idiot and friends of the band. One hundred fans were lucky to get tickets to this show, and probably 80 or so friends and family of the band were in attendance. (Larry Livermore, in his blog post on this show, said that there were “100 or so fanatical fans” in attendance. I’d like to say for the record, that we are “focused” not fanatical, thank you very much.) I have no idea how many people the place actually holds, and I avoided looking at the occupancy sign on the wall.
Clicky!: Emily's Army Widget
Sunday night introduced the band, Emily’s Army, to New York. Emily’s Army consists of Cole, Travis, Max, and Joey. (The band has a pretty cool Widget here.). One of the four members is Billie Joe Armstrong’s eldest son. If you don’t know which one he is, it’s time for you to find out. You’ll hear his name, as well as the names of his bandmates, in musical circles for years to come. You can view some YouTube videos of Emily’s Army at Gilman from last year. I’m not that familiar with the band, so you might want to go and read Larry Livermore’s blog posting about this show, which talks a bit more about their set. I liked them and their sound (and it was great to see the Armstrongs being proud parents, too), but they seemed so young to me that I felt a bit like a creepy old woman staring at teenagers and I had to walk away… but from what I saw, Joey is an already excellent drummer and Travis (lead singer and guitar), Cole (guitar), and Max (bass) are solid and have grown stronger since last year’s Gilman videos. With a few more years and experience, this band and its members may lead the next generation’s version of punk. Let’s hope so.
After Emily’s Army set, the 15-year olds were sent home to pats on the back and a “what’s up” here and there. It was now time for the “grownups” to tear the place up.
That second wind I mentioned earlier appeared after I was fueled by a shot of Jägermeister, a drink I hadn’t touched since the mid-1990s when I got so drunk on it, I threw up in neon green. There’s a reason why the Germans call it “liver glue.” As it swept down my throat I fully remembered why I hadn’t consumed it in years, it tastes like NyQuil, but it does the trick in an instant. One shot and you’ve come unglued. Two shots… well, I didn’t let it go that far. I let out a big whoop and felt as if I could move mountains on the dance floor. I would have to. The bar was packed to the gills, but not as tight as the dance floor that I would hit when the FBHT started to play.
John and Rachel.
Some cast members from American Idiot walked in about this time, including Michael Esper, Christina Sajous, Chase Peacock, Theo Stockman, and John Gallagher, Jr. Once again, the sweet and kind Mr. Gallagher shocked me when we ran into each other and he greeted me by name and we shared a teeny moment. Later in the night, we would share dance space during “A Quick One.”
Joan Jett, the Cobra Girls and Management.
During the break and after the Jägermeister, I could do just about anything, and that’s when Joan Jett walked up to near where I was standing with the Cobra Girls, Baby and Lady, along with the tour’s tougher-than-steel management, Rachel K. and Call Me Donna. I turned around, and Jett, who looked like she wanted to talk to the Cobra Girls, was a foot from me. I leaned toward her and said, “Joan Jett, the Cobra Girls would love to take a picture with you!” (I went cameraless this night, so Rachel K. gave me her camera and I clicked a few shots.) Jett said that she had heard about them and wanted to meet them. Needless to say, it was a nice moment. Here we were, in close proximity to a hot and legendary lady of rock ‘n roll. She is opening for Green Day during some of their European shows, including London’s Wembley Stadium. I have a ticket for the show, but I can’t afford a flight to England. Sigh. I saw Joan Jett open for the Police back in 1983, and she was booed by the stupid-assed Detroit crowd. I’ll never forget her walking off of the Cobo Arena stage (now Joe Louis Arena), but not before she said, “Fuck you, Detroit.” She became a heroine to me. I’d wanted to say that same thing to my hometown for years. I would love to see her again in a stadium full of people. Sometimes, though, luck runs out with the Lushie Gods. No Wembley to write about for me. 😦
The Dark Side of Night with the Foxboro Hot Tubs
That setlist looks familiar! - Bowery Electric, 4/25/10
What can I say about this show that I can actually remember? Hmm. Not much. Once the Hot Tubs went on, the night became a complete blur of bodies and heat. I remember plowing to the dance floor with Bryan and Brasesco at the first strains of “Stop, Drop and Roll,” and jumping in sync with everyone around me. I was about two body rows away from the too-low stage at the Bowery Electric, which came to just under the kneecaps. Once you got toward that stage and the bodies behind you pushed forward, you could kiss your knees goodbye forever. Or at least until the bruises healed.
The Church of Lushotology was in session.
Two of Eight? Renditions of “Stop, Drop and Roll”
More Dark Side of Night… or what I can remember of it…
Adrienne Armstrong and Michael Mayer. Photo by Rachel K.
Theo in a boa. Photo by Rachel K.
Luckily, there are a few YouTube videos that have helped jogged my addled memory. Watching the limited video from this show on Youtube is a bit like clutching at dabs of manna from hell. When I look at them and see the brick walls of the club, packed with people and the tiny stage, I’m reminded that this party will be one of those that goes down in rock ‘n roll history. Small and intimate, packed with fan, friend, star, nobody, one on top of each and all going hog-wild in dancing and celebration. Sure, some folks like Adrienne and Michael Mayer, along with Joan Jett (I don’t think she came down into the pit, as I lost sight of her once I headed into it), stayed up by the rail, but I can’t really picture Michael Mayer crowdsurfing. I stayed with Bryan and Brasesco for a long while, and when the first “It’s Fuck Time” broke out, the pit went even wilder than I could imagine [Video]. Inhibitions were gone and it felt damned good. American Idiot cast members were flying left and right and hogging Billie Joe’s stage and he was loving it, until he finally told them that he loved them, but that they had to “get the fuck off of my stage.” No one stays on his stage for very long.
While Michael and Theo and John from American Idiot had some fine crowdsurfing moments, it was Steelthorne from the Green Day Community who wowed me with his surfing skills from the video below. I’ve never met Steelthorne, but we were both at last July’s (2009) Albany show (where I met Bryan and other Green Day Fans for the first time). Albany was my first real Green Day show. There’s a great Chris Dugan picture from either the Albany or Madison Square Garden shows of Steelthorne with a feather boa. Steelthorne gives Billie Joe some of the best boas. See him surf like a pro to “The Pedestrian.” Note also the expert beer exchange and how much The Rev seems to be enjoying it.
Steelthorne Surfs Like a Pro – “The Pedestrian” – Foxboro Hot Tubs, Bowery Electric, 4/25/10
Theo Surfs. Photo by Rachel K.
OMG! Photo by Bob Gruen
There is a picture that Bob Gruen took that I would love to buy and hang on my wall. I actually emailed his representative about licensing the photograph (goodness only knows how much that would be), but I haven’t heard back from them. Gruen has a thumbnail posted at his site, of Kevin Preston onstage undoing Billie Joe’s belt buckle with his teeth. The look on each individual face that can be seen captures the dynamic of the room as only a seasoned rock ‘n roll photographer such as Gruen can do. You can see me in the horde with a completely shocked OMG! face. I seriously don’t remember Kevin undoing The Rev’s pants. The only thing I remember is that I was so hot at this point that I had to walk off of the dance floor or spontaneously combust. You can make of that what you will.
Hot Pants. Photo by Rachel K.
It was Reverend Twitch’s red pants that caused the room temperature to go up many notches, surely.
When I walked off and back up toward the bar, I confronted a wall of people on the stairs, mesmerized by the stage.
I somehow made my way through them, and folks were buzzing about Bill Murray having been there, but that he had left. I have no idea. I downed a few glasses of water and hit the pit again.
Chino and The Rev. Photo by Chris Dugan
The Cobra Men, Chino, Night Moves, and Gryptron, along with Bryan and Brasesco, had moved down into the pit front and were forming a tall and thick blockade on Jason Freese’s side of the stage. I couldn’t get near them, and found myself toward the middle of the pit, while Brasesco tried to get me closer to the front, but it wasn’t working. I motioned him to turn toward the stage. I was content on where I was. My knees had already been crushed against the stage front and I didn’t wish to replicate that particular pain. I turned toward my right and stared right into John’s face, who was screaming, “A Quick One!” “A Quick One!” Knowing that that song comes at the end of the show, I said to him, “They’ll play it, they’ll play it,” but I couldn’t get it out that if he requested it too soon and they played it, the show could abruptly end. It’s like yelling out “Minority” too early or “Good Riddance.” These songs signal the near end or end of a Green Day show, just as “A Quick One” symbolizes the end of an FBHT show. Sssshh! They’ll get to it. There were still a dozen more “Stop[s], Drop[s] and Roll[s]” and “It’s Fuck Time[s]” to go!
Probably the oddest of many odd moments from the night happened when a fan surfed onstage and called his wife. Apparently they had had a fight and the guy wanted Billie Joe to persuade her to come back to him. Unfortunately, they got her voicemail. Billie Joe said that it wouldn’t work out because he couldn’t talk to her, but that he had a beer for him (which appeared like a miracle out of nowhere), and a song called “Stop, Drop and Roll… and get the fuck off of my stage.” Poor guy. Well, at least they both tried.
Call My Estranged Wife… Please – FinksEntourage
Peanut Gallery. Photo by Rachel K.
Bob Gruen posted a surprising photograph of Billie Joe, who apparently re-chipped his front tooth sometime during the show (click to see at his site). Everyone who saw the photograph and had attended the show from the Green Day Community were shocked. When the hell did THAT happen? I remember the show being pretty wild, but I don’t remember blood dripping down Billie Joe’s face that one person mentioned on this topic. Sometime during the night, Christina Sajous from American Idiot was onstage and got kicked in the face by a roaming crowdsurfer. This I remember clearly as it seemed like it was a hard kick and looked like it hurt. The Rev pulled her back from the stage front and she watched the rest of the show from above the stage. Both of these incidents add a bit of special meaning to the screamed “I’m Alive” portion of the FBHT song, “Highway One.”
“I’M ALIVE!!!!” – Highway One – Foxboro Hot Tubs, Bowery Electric, 4/25/10 (Smshnpmpkn)
After “The Pedestrian,” the Hot Tubs did “Broadway” interspersed with a cover of the Mystic Knights of the Cobra’s “El Camino.” Gallagher and Stockman were onstage for most of the song, clearly smashed (like the great majority of everyone else in the room) and having a great time. Baby Cobra eventually made it onto the stage and helped with the “El Camino” chorus.
John, Theo, Baby Cobra, et al – “Broadway” / “El Camino” – Foxboro Hot Tubs / Mystic Knights of the Cobra – Bowery Electric, 4/25/10 (Smshnpmpkn)
The night began to wind down and it was time for the most mellow song of the night, Stop, Drop and Roll‘s “Dark Side of Night.” The Rev dedicated the song to Michael Mayer and gave a bit of a shout-out to New York City.
“New York City, Motherfucker!” – Dark Side of the Night – Foxboro Hot Tubs, Bowery Electric 4/25/10 (Smshnpmpkn)
Yeah I'm Rocking.
Sometime after the jazzy part of the night happened, came the final songs of the show, “St. Jimmy” and the moment that John Gallagher, Jr. had been waiting for… “A Quick One.” By this time it seemed everyone was holding each other up on the dance floor and the women in the front were begging people not to surf over them anymore. But still, there was an energy left in the room that sustained itself through the long and rambling “A Quick One.” John was so happy and it was fun to see him and everyone having the time of their lives. There is one YouTube video of “A Quick One,” but the sound goes in and out and it’s not that good, but that’s ok. Some things are better left to memory (or lack thereof). Just knowing that we were all there for a trip to the Dark Side is sometimes good enough.
At the end, The Rev said goodnight, dropped his mic on the ground and walked off. He and everyone else, were done.
And then it was over…
Josh and Rachael. Photo by Rachel K.
This party culminated a week of excitement that you can read about if you travel back through this blog. When I say that the week of April 19th-April 25th, 2010, spent over the opening of American Idiot on Broadway and the subsequent Party! Party! Party Tour and Foxboro Hot Tubs shows, was some of the best times of my life, it’s not hyperbole. It’s hard, cold fact. I’ve had great moments on the planet, but few can compare to this week of good performance, good music, good friends, good times.
Green Day Over Broadway. Photo by Gavin Boyd, Rolling Stone
Four dates in the life of the Broadway baby called American Idiot stand out for me since seeing the show in Berkeley back in September: The invited Press and Fan Final Soundcheck on 3/23/10, the first preview on 3/24/10, opening night on 4/20/10 and the MTV Special Viewing that occurred on 4/22/10. Since I live in NYC, I had the great fortune of attending all of these special events. This post is a roundup of some of the goings on with the show this past month here in NYC.
Press and Fan Final Soundcheck 3/23/10
An unprecedented invited Press and Fan Final Soundcheck was announced through the Idiot Club and the American Idiot on Broadway Facebook page a few days before the show was to begin its first Broadway preview. The soundcheck press conference occurred in the middle of the day and I made arrangements with work to take a long lunch to go. I attempted to get a blogger press pass and wrote a professional letter to the show’s press agent, and included the name of one of my friends, a top NYC theater critic, who recommended that I write to them. Unfortunately, I wasn’t afforded the courtesy of a reply. At least when I asked at Berkeley, they very kindly sent me an email saying no. I don’t want to sound bitter, but I know that both the production company and press agent for AI have come to this blog. Some sort of reply would have been nice, but I’m not legitimate enough for the courtesy of a reply in New York City. I even mentioned to them how I appeared in the Daily News regarding the show. In fact, several Facebook friends asked me “what I did for the show” and one of them, a television producer who I’ve known since acting school also asked me. And yet… well… whatever. No reply at all. At least a no is a response.
Putting aside all of that, the final soundcheck was a magnificent day. We waited outside for the Idiot interns to check us in, and they recognized me from the American IdiotOn Broadway Facebook page and said hello. After about an hour, I went across the street from the theater to wait for the band to show up to take pictures, and shortly thereafter, Green Day was driven up to the theater and deposited at the front doors. I managed to snap two shots of Billie Joe, Mike, and Tre coming into the theater. It was nice to see Mike for the first time with his blond hair, and Tre was carrying what seemed to be a drumstick case.
American Idiot Soundcheck Billie Joe and Tre, 3/23/10. Photo by Green Day Mind.
American Idiot Soundcheck Mike, 3/23/10. Photo by Green Day Mind.
After they moved into the theater, I went back across the street to wait with everyone, and eventually, the first fifty fans in line, who had been told that they were going to sit in the Orchestra seats, were let in first. About 10 minutes later, the remainder of the line was shepherded into the theater up to the Mezzanine. The folks who had been told that they were going to sit in the Orchestra were actually sitting in the Mezzanine with the rest of us. Official word was that there were too many people in the press corps in the Orchestra, and needless to say, the first fifty fans in line were disappointed. I have a feeling that they were afraid that people would try to rush the stage and attempt to get autographs from the band or cast, a very legitimate possibility.
We bitched and moaned with them for a few minutes, and then the lights started to go down and the sounds of the opening strains of the musical — news and television clips from the Iraq War era — began to play. The huge red velvet curtain slowly went up and the cast stood onstage with their backs toward the audience (a definite and effective change from the Berkeley show), all looking toward the 20 or so television screens embedded in Christine Jones’s excellent set design for the show. The guitar riff to “American Idiot” began, and the cast was off, singing the title song to the show.
American Idiot Sound - Tre Climbs in Bed, 3/23/10. Photo by Green Day Mind.
AI Cast Headbanging During "American Idiot" Soundcheck. Photo by Green Day Mind.
After the song, director Michael Mayer, Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool, and Mike Dirnt walked onto the stage to loud claps from the crowd in the peanut gallery. Mayer spoke for a bit about the show and his inspiration and collaboration with Billie Joe on the book. Billie Joe spoke, then Mike, and Tre said something for a second. While Tre was talking, Mike and Billie climbed into the onstage bed prop, the cast piled on top of them, photo ops were had by all, and the event was over. I went back to work while the rest of the Green Day Community gang hung out and went to lunch. Green Day and the cast headed over to Sardi’s, a famous restaurant down the street from the St. James known for its Broadway clientele for more interviews with the “legitimate” press.
All in all (and despite my bitching), the press conference was a great way to start off the feverish run of American Idiot in New York City. The celebration lasted for a solid month and ended with a spectacular bang with good reviews, solid changes to the show, a special MTV showing with the band, hanging with old and new friends, and one of the best After Parties Ever — two appearances by the fabled Foxboro Hot Tubs (more on the latter in a later post).
APRED Clip of American Idiot Cast Singing “American Idiot” and Press Conference, 3/23/10
I didn’t intend to go to the first preview and hadn’t bought a ticket for that night. My first “official night” of seeing American Idiot was actually scheduled for 4/7/10, but a bunch of Idiots had traveled from around the country to come into New York to see the show, and one of them, sadly, couldn’t bring her friend as planned because of her friend’s cancer treatment. She had an extra ticket so I offered to give her some cash for it (which I still have to do), with the proceeds going toward her friend’s cancer fund. The show at this point was in the working stages from the move from Berkeley to Broadway, and they were working kinks out and adjusting to the larger set and staging of the show. I was quite impressed with the changes in the choreography, the storyline, and the passion that I felt from the cast. Over the course of time from the first Preview to Opening Night, I saw the show three times (3/24; 3/27 and 4/7) and noticed that there were several changes and reworkings during that time until Opening Night and the MTV Special Viewing. (All together, between Berkeley and Broadway, I’ve seen the show seven times.)
Green Day, of course, was there that night, and it was a three-ring circus! Their wives and kids were in the audience and just before the curtain went up, Billie Joe’s bodyguard (a nice guy who I’ve spoken with a few times who does an excellent job of crowd control and protecting Billie Joe) brought him down to sit next to Adrienne. They were so damned cute together, too. I didn’t stare too much, being the nonchalant New Yorker that I am, ahem, but of course, a stare or two couldn’t be helped during the show. There was a palpable excitement and nervousness in the air as the audience, clearly in the show’s corner for an exciting time, was bouncing up and down in their seats in anticipation.
After the show, the circus continued outside. I’m not a fan of getting autographs or photos with famous people, so I just hung around outside until I could find the contingent of folks I had come to the show with. The sidewalk outside of the St. James was packed with people, and many folks had to stand in the street just to let people pass through. Of course, those of us standing in the street kept getting yelled at by cops and security to get out of the street. I would move along, put a foot on the sidewalk, and then head back into the street while people crowded the sidewalk.
Billie and Adrienne and Rebecca Running to Sardi's after the first preview. Photo by Green Day Mind.
American Idiot First Preview After Show Madhouse, 3/23/10. Photo by Green Day Mind.
Eventually, the cast started to roll out of the theater on their way back to Sardi’s for the preview after party. They were asked for autographs (you can see Stark Sands, “Tunny” being mobbed in the photograph below), and after it calmed down a bit more, probably 30 minutes or so after the show when some of the crowd had dispersed (but not by much), Tre kind of quietly walked out a side door to the restaurant first, followed later by Billie Joe, Adrienne, Rebecca Naomi Jones (Whatsername), Mike and Mike’s wife, Brittany. My friends and I went down to Sardis and stood outside for a bit, watching Tre stand in the window of Sardi’s looking down at the crowd. Girls were screaming up a storm, and I’ve got a bad reputation for telling them to shut up (sorry, I just hate screaming girls or boys, my bad), so after awhile, I got tired of the spectacle and headed back down to the theater. Tony Vincent came out and we said hello to each other (we met at Berkeley and spoke online during the Berkeley run), and eventually, John Gallagher, Jr. came out of the theater, after most of the crowd had dispersed or were at Sardi’s. John knows me by name (probably because I drunkenly told him at Rockwood that he needed to bring more of the angst and also from talking with him at the Character Approved Awards a few months ago), so it kind of shocked me that he remembered my name.
John Gallagher, Jr. at Rockwood, 1/18/10. Photo by Green Day Mind.
When I first saw the show at Berkeley, I wasn’t impressed with his performance, but then again, I had major issues at the time with the entire show. My biggest concern was that during the Berkeley run when I saw it, I didn’t see the seriousness of the material coming from him nor did I feel the depth of the character. I also say that off-Broadway runs and previews are the time for steeped criticism, particularly in regards to something one feels passionately about, and I’m a jaded theater person from back in the day. If everything is perfect at the beginning, there is no room for improvement. And shows and performances can always be improved. John steadily won me over, as I was pulling for him, particularly after I saw him perform his own material at his residency at Rockwood on the Lower East Side this past January. He’s a heartfelt kid, super-sweet, and a talented dude who obviously is in love with this show and the band. Watching him grow into the role of Johnny has been a pleasure and I give him all the kudos in the world for a brilliant and successful run. And I hope he gets a Tony nomination as well. American Idiot is one of the most bone-breaking shows I’ve seen on Broadway. These kids, led by Gallagher, throw themselves around that stage, and every night Gallagher leads the way. I’m sure it’s not easy.
My Wall Signature.
Once John went inside the restaurant, things got pretty tame outside of the St. James, but people were still bat-shit screaming in front of Sardi’s. The kids outside couldn’t get into the bar at Sardi’s, but since my friends and I are of age, we hung out in the bar at Sardi’s and talked with the bartender who has worked at Sardi’s for years, a real old skool New York character. Outside some of the kids were yelling up to the 2nd floor window asking that Billie make an appearance and show them his tattoos. He did, and then one girl screamed for him to sign her arm for a tattoo when he left the bar and he mimed that he would.
At some point during the night, I went upstairs to the bathroom, where the after party was taking place, and walked right into Brittany Dirnt. I didn’t say anything to her. Heck, what are you going to say to someone in the bathroom? When I walked out, Mike was on the phone near the bathroom and Gallagher was hanging out talking with people. I went back downstairs and chatted for a bit longer. I left at 12:30, but the others stayed until 1:00. I guess I should have stayed for another 1/2 hour, but I had to work the next day. From what I understand, the cast and eventually Billie Joe came out of the party and Billie Joe asked for a “fucking” cigarette. (Yes, he does smoke on occasion, get over it.) My friend who had taken me to the Preview was just about to put a cigarette in her mouth and instead, she gave it to him. Bonus! LOL. Oh, and he did sign the girl’s arm, too.
American Idiot Opening at the Irish Rogue. Photo by Michael Gary.
What can I say about Opening Night? By this time, I had seen the show three times in New York, and I was ready to just sit back and enjoy what was about to happen. The opening was a star-studded event, with the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell, Michael J. Fox and Donald Fucking Trump… oh and a bunch of Idiots who are stars in my book. I didn’t see the Donald, and that was probably a good thing, but I did see the other three, and that was a good thing, too.
Green Day Bracelets in Front of the St. James, Opening Night. 4/20/10.
We Idiots met for dinner and a powwow at the Irish Rogue, having snacks and drinks. Carolyn had brought new Green Day Friendship bracelets to the theater, and she had an extra one and gave it to me. I already had one, but I took it anyway, in anticipation of seeing the show with Becky Walter (of the Facebook page Green Day LIVE on Tour) on 4/22/10. Becky was flying in from Minnesota to New York for the first time ever for the MTV Viewing on 4/22.
We walked down to the site as a group and got more excited as showtime came closer. Our seats were in the balcony and with the crowd, it took a bit of time to get up there. I wasn’t sitting with the Idiots from the restaurant, unfortunately, but I was anticipating meeting up with two special friends, Rachel and Michelle, who were sitting next to me. We three had shared some incredible moments out in Berkeley over the last few months, and Rachel was there to help manage the Mystic Knights of the Cobra tour that was starting the next day and Michelle is the spectacular photographer who took photographs of the Pinhead Gunpowder show back in February. She’s also the girlfriend of the bassist (Jim Graz) of Honah Lee, the accompanying band with the Cobras on their Party! Party! Party! Tour of the East Coast. The tour had been something I was hella looking forward to for months now, and I knew that when I saw them, that the REAL party was about to begin. More on that in a coming post.
The audience, if possible, was even MORE excited to see the show than on the first preview. Everyone was dressed to the nines and there were a few times when the audience shouted out lyrics to the songs with the cast, which was very exciting. I loved it.
After the show, we made our way downstairs and waited around for a little bit to say hello and goodbye to people. We were standing in the St. Jimmy Bar and as I was trying to walk into the area, my bag poked Ed Norton really hard in the ass. (Lucky bag.) He turned around and I apologized, and he smiled, and since I was looking hella good, he looked for a bit longer than usual. And I let him. Haha. And then I turned away and decided that the only thing I wanted to do was leave and hang out with Cobras and start the next phase of this wondrous opening week. So we hopped in a cab and went downtown.
The Real Party Begins. Hanging with the Cobras in the East Village, 4/20/10.
I did not go to the Opening Night Party, but the Green Day Community’s Katie McPansy Grogan won the American Idiot on Broadway Facebook contest. She had a fabulous time in NY, got to meet the band, interviewed Rebecca Naomi Jones, had excellent seats, and went to the After Party. I highly recommend visiting Katie’s Video Blogs of American Idiot on Broadway Opening.
A Shout Out to Nicole.
Lastly, a word of thanks to Nicole Gary. Nicole and I met on the Green Day Community and have been theater buddies in NYC since then. We were also in the Daily News photo shoot together back in March. She told me on opening night that she had attempted to get me a press pass for the After Opening Party festivities and had almost succeeded, but things didn’t work out. Thank you, Nicole, for believing in me and my blog, and for being a good buddy. I appreciate your friendship.
MTV Special Viewing, 4/22/10
J’net (an awesome moderator at the Green Day Community, thank you!) had bought us tickets to the 4/22/10 showing when tickets first went on sale. At the time, tickets weren’t on sale for Opening Night, so 4/22 was the next best thing going at the time (and it proved to be pretty amazing). I was hoping for something weird and special, as I had heard that weird and special things might happen on this night, so I was in weird and special mode. When tickets went on sale on 4/1/10 for Opening Night, I regretted my decision a bit to attend this performance. The Cobras and Honah Lee had played the night before at Arlene’s Grocery, and they were off to Asbury Park for a show at Asbury Lanes. Truthfully, I wanted to be with them as I don’t get to see them very often. But, we make our choices and I had to work on Friday anyway, and ok, shoot me, since all in all, I’ve been way lucky and it’s all good.
Minnesota Gal in NYC. Becky of Green Day LIVE on Tour Comes to NYC.
Things always work out best for those who love the Lushie Gods. Becky Walter, a friend of Niki Lee’s (Seize the Green Day), had won tickets to the MTV Special Viewing but was a bit panicked about making her first major trek from a small town in Minnesota to New York City. I had seats in the Mezzanine that night, but I told her that I would help her navigate through Manhattan and she gave me her second ticket. Niki, Dorie and I talked her through it and encouraged her to take the bull by the horns and conquer her fear of coming to NYC by herself. After all, we don’t bite… hard… here. We told her it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and she really wanted to come see the show, and having free tickets was half the battle since the ticket prices can be high. She flew in the day of the show, walked to my work to pick me up so that we could navigate down to the difficult to find Pop2Life offices for the tickets, and then whizzed uptown to meet folks at the Westway Diner for dinner. We proceeded to the venue a bit later and I gave her the Green Day Friendship bracelet that Carolyn had given me the day before. Our tickets were in the left Orchestra, not far from were I sat on the night of the first preview. Also, by Becky giving me the ticket, Andres from the Green Day Community was then able to share this special night with everyone by taking my original Mezzanine seat with J’net, Dawn, and Sherri. The Lushie Gods are good!
As the show was about to begin, Armstrong, Dirnt, and Cool family members walked in and filled the seats in the Center Orchestra. Billie Joe’s mom is the cutest thing ever, and she was beaming from ear to ear. Adrienne walked in with her and sat about two rows from us. As the curtain bells were ringing, The Edge from U2 entered and sat in the Center Orchestra not far from us, followed by Tre, Mike and Brittany, and finally, Billie Joe, who sat in the aisle seat next to Adrienne. Needless to say he caused a stir when he came in, but then the lights went down and the curtain went up.
Is this thing on? Green Day sings during American Idiot on Broadway. Photo by Green Day Mind.
It was kinda funny looking at him as an audience member. He was mesmerized by the show and his mouth was kinda hanging open in amazement the entire time, but something kept distracting him and he ran out of the theater twice during the performance, but came back in. Just as the show was ending, Green Day left the theater and a stage tech brought two mikes onstage. Afterward, the band took their rightful places onstage with their kids, the cast of American Idiot. Billie Joe had some issues with his guitar set-up for a minute, but they worked it out and he noted that it was “his first time on Broadway.” The crowd stood up as they came on and were treated to the “real” version of “American Idiot” and a great rendition of “Basket Case.” The month-long ride from Preview to Opening was complete, and this new baby called American Idiot was on Broadway.
Y’know what… I missed seeing them onstage
Green Day sings on Broadway, 4/22/10. Photo by Green Day Mind.
Green Day sings on Broadway During American Idiot, 4/22/10. Photo by Green Day Mind.
All in all, it has been a great ride with American Idiot, and I’m glad that the show is up and running and is good. It’s gotten exceptional reviews for the most part, and ticket sales are good. It’s fucking up Broadway, and in my book, that is always a good thing. I’ll write up something one day with my thoughts on the actual production, but really, just go and see it and make up your own mind is all that I can ultimately say.
I will say, though, that seeing Green Day back onstage made me realize how much I just wanted to see them perform again. The cast is great and the score is wonderful and kudos to everyone involved in the show, but Green Day is… well… Green Day. I silently offered supplications after the MTV Special Viewing, “please let the Foxboro Hot Tubs play a show this weekend, please let me get to see it.” Cause you know what? There is nothing like Billie Joe, Mike and Tre onstage together. And luckily, the Lushie Saints granted my wish. Twice. More on that in a later post.
And with that, faire thee well, American Idiot on Broadway. May you have a long life and prosper, may your actors stay healthy with no broken bones, and may you always Fuck Up Broadway.
After the break, stay tuned for ToniAnn and Fallyn on MTV being interviewed about the show and some additional links.
I started writing this right after the Pinhead Gunpowder show happened on February 12, but a few things got in the way, including the death of my Uncle while I was still in California. So, I know it’s been a while, but enjoy nonetheless.
I had heard that there was going to be a super-secret benefit show by Pinhead Gunpowder at Gilman and I became obsessed (or as I like to say, focused) on the possibility of seeing a Green Day-related side project band in a small and intimate, show. My friend who introduced me to Billie Joe at Fake New Year’s in Los Angeles back in November keeps telling me that I heard it directly from Billie Joe himself that night because Billie Joe told him about it and I was standing there when he said it, but hell if I remember that happening. That night, all in all, is a bit of a blur.
After going to London in October to see Green Day at the O2 and then missing the Foxboro Hot Tubs by a bloody week, I became determined to head to my now favorite place on Earth, the East Bay, to see the band. PHGP is a band that I was only slightly aware of (shoot me) seven months ago and I wanted to see my friends in the Bay. As an extra bonus, the Mystic Knights of the Cobra (MKOTC) were playing at the Uptown at some point during the weekend, too. (I’ll be writing about that show in the next week.)
The rumor machine had PHGP playing on Saturday, February 13, 2010 at first, and MKOTC were rumored to open for them. However, it became evident that MKOTC weren’t going to open as they had been… Uh… banned from Gilman from the last time they played there. Then MKOTC booked a show at the Uptown for Saturday and were certainly not playing with PHGP and everyone’s attention somehow obsessed (focused) on the rumor that the benefit for Anandi Wonder, a friend of PHGP’s who was suffering from breast cancer, would happen on Friday, February 12, 2010, instead.
There had been some hard and fast talk saying that if news of the show came out too early and too furious, that the show would be canceled. I’m paranoid and pretty good at keeping a secret, but after a bit of sidestepping around the subject, a group of, shall we say… well-researched folks… from the Green Day Community somehow found themselves planning a weekend in the Bay.
I asked a friend to help me out (again) with a cheap buddy ticket on Continental, asked my friends in the Bay if I could stay with them, rented a car and prayed that nothing like a blizzard or anything would stop me from going. I had no cash, really, for any of this, and the cheap Continental ticket was a godsend that eventually turned into a nightmare.
Pinhead Gunpowder Crowd
And while everyone was busy keeping their mouths shut, Billie Joe himself, who is not known for keeping some things quiet, spilled the beans the night before the show on Twitter…
02-11 – PINHEAD GUNPOWDER TO PERFORM FRIDAY
Having band practice with PHGP today! Can’t wait for friday night show! -Billie
… and greenday.com was geeky enough to actually twit about his Tweet. It always cracks me up when they do this.
There was one giant glitch in my crazy plans: Northeast winters and their ability to make things go a bit haywire. The week before the February 12th show, a storm caused major disruptions in transportation and life in the Maryland and DC areas and I literally thanked my lucky stars that it hadn’t reached NYC. Of course, I still had a week to leave the city so anything could happen, and yes, it did.
On Wednesday, February 10th, two days before the show, with people heading to the Bay from the East Coast on Thursday and Friday, a proclaimed “Snowpacalyse” poised itself to hit the East Coast again and this time, NYC was destined to be in the eye of a twenty-four hour storm. Just. Fucking. Peachy.
A few folks including me were slated to fly standby. Standby works only if the airline does not sell out seats and they end up distributing tickets to friends and workers for a nominal fee at the gate. And I mean, nominal. If a storm disrupted service for a few hours, we still had good chances of getting the cheap seats. Any longer than that, and we were screwed. Wednesday’s 24-hour storm busted the best of good intentions for people WITH tickets, let along dweebs like me catching a good deal.
Larry Livermore posted on his Facebook a declaration that the storm had better be a doozy, because he had just given up his spot on his flight after being told that he couldn’t get booked on any other flights. Read more on his story, which sums up a lot of my own feelings about the Snowpocalypse here.
Anyway, long story short, by the time my flight was suppose to leave the East Coast on Thursday, we had such a blanket of storm that my satellite teevee went out on Wednesday, which hardly ever happens. I had already changed my original Thursday flight to Friday in anticipation of the airline industry shutting down on Wednesday (announced on Tuesday), and I went into work on my vacation-day Thursday, hoping in vain that I would actually get on a Friday standby flight. I was, to say the least, freaking out.
Another person who lives down in Virginia was slated to leave on Thursday, but her flight out of Dulles was canceled, and another friend helped her rebook her ticket by way of multiple destinations. I could feel the entire weekend that I had looked forward to for so long becoming something that would not happen if I didn’t take action. So I did.
Billie Joe and Adrienne, "Christian and Gloria," by Naomi Lir
Naomi Lir, a.k.a., BillieJoesEntourage, has created a nice “Christian and Gloria”-type wallpaper from a second photograph taken at the American Idiot opening, a reverse image of the one below of Adrienne and Billie, both of which show off Adrienne’s beautiful tattoos. You can download a large version of the above wallpaper here or by clicking on the image above. Check out more of Naomi’s work at her DeviantArt site as well.
I don’t post often about the wives or family members of Green Day. For one thing, the band is pretty private about their lives, and personally, it’s none of my business. I make an occasional exception for Adrienne Armstrong, however. From what I can tell, she is pretty neat and incredibly gorgeous, and it’s obvious that after 15 years of marriage, Billie and Adrienne are in love. And it’s a beautiful thing in this day and age of temporary rock star marriages.
People find this blog, according to my search engine stats, by looking for variations of “Adrienne and Billie” moreso than any other aspect of Green Day. I have only posted two photographs of them together, a really hot one of them for their anniversary this year (hey, what, it was published!), and the one below at American Idiot in Berkeley. These two posts are the most consistent photographs or subject that people stumble upon.
Adrienne and Billie Joe Armstrong, Premiere, Green Day's American Idiot at the Berkeley Rep.
======================================== New York, Madison Square Garden, July 27, 2009
I knew from the moment I exited the Times Union Center that I would not experience the full impact of Green Day’s music at this concert. You see, I had seats… high into the dead zone of MSG. So very sad. Nonetheless, the crowd around me (except for the three people next to me who kept getting out of their seats) were pretty great. There were four young men in crazy hats (Kings for a Day?) who very politely let us know that if their giant sombrero hats got in the way of viewing to say something. And I did. But, my friend who went with me is a only a nominal Green Day fan and while I love her, I don’t think she enjoyed the show very much. I have sworn never to again attend a Green Day show with someone who is a nominal fan. It’s all or nothing for a Green Day show.
Green Day concert seats - MSG1
I’ve seen a few concerts at Madison Square Garden and for most of them, I’ve been in the 300 sections, high up under the skyboxes. I hate sitting there. U2 sounded like they were underwater when I saw them there years ago. I noticed the sound difference most specifically during this show when I went down toward the front of the stadium after Billie Joe frightened the MSG security guards by urging fans to (slowly) come down and fill out the pit. Looking from up above, I had a feeling he would do this since the pit on stage right had a slight void of bodies in it. Of course, as usual, I didn’t get down there in time (yes, I left my friend in the dust), and of course, as usual, I chose the wrong aisle to go down because Billie came up to the stadium on the aisle next to me. I’m pretty sure they were clearing that area anyway so that he wouldn’t trip and fall. And he didn’t! Yay! I marched back up to my seat and longed for that pit. My goodness.
Other highlights of this show for me where Billie telling the story of fighting with Adrienne over the phone when he was out with friends, while some guy drove by and said, “Fuck you Billie Joe! Green Day sucks!” Billie Joe then went on to relate how he beat the crap out of the guy, goes back into the bar, does some shots and forgets that Adrienne is still on the phone. Apparently this all took place during the tough final record-mixing time. Those days are over now, it’s all good.
I think the thing that I missed most in this show was the chance to dance, play and interact more directly with the band. Billie, Tré and Mike work the crowd like you wouldn’t believe. They draw you into playtime, even if seeing them at great distances. Take it from me, the closer the better. Even if it’s only been three times so far (tomorrow’s MSG fill will make four, all this year) seeing them, I completely regret not taking the opportunity a long time ago. Oh. Well. After only a few shows, I kinda feel addicted now. Is this how all those old Deadheads felt, too? Hmm.
Liz and me at the Green Day show, MSG1
From an audience participation point of view, this show had some great moments. I can’t remember exactly when but at one point a construction hat pops out of the pit, and Billie puts it on. He throws it back to the pit a few seconds later. The construction hat will be back.
Billie in the epic-failed stage dive guy's construction hat - GDA
“East Jesus Nowhere.” What can I say about this song except for ‘thank you.’ From the very moment when the screeching, metallic quality of the chords start, a powerful moment begins which does not disappoint. The band finds a young, preferably innocent, child upon which to perform a ritual known as “saving the soul.” Sometimes the kids are scared shitless, and sometimes you get a kid like Elijah… with a Biblical name no less… at Madison Square Garden. Good times. Elijah played his part perfectly and deserved the chant that his name got. Billie was pretty good, too. 🙂
“Longview” was surreal. I don’t remember the first verse singer, but for the second verse singer, we come back to the construction hat. From what I understand, some kids from Oakland traveled from California to see the band. The guy with the construction hat being one of them. Well, he got on stage and in a heavy metal sorta Gwar-like voice started the lyrics. Which was kinda cool for a word or two. And then he stopped in the middle of the verse and made Billie sing the song. A bit of a bummer, I’d say, particularly since the second verse is the best verse in “Longview.” In recompense, Billie had him stage dive, which he gladly did. He ran down the cat walk at high speed down and…. he jumps and… nobody catches him. Oops. This clip has the scene, which ends around the 3:37 mark. LOL funny. Luckily, the last dude totally redeems the moment with a great performance and a even better stage dive. As a bonus, the clip also has Basket Case, always a winner. (Hurry before it’s too late!)
Green Day at Madison Square Garden, July 27, 2009
I think this night was the first time that they played “When I Come Around,” which may have been a request from the floor. Lots of fun signs pop up with requests, but alas, I can’t think of any right now. I was made happy by it being played. Yay! Disappearing Boy made its second appearance on the concert tour (it was also played in Albany), but on this night it was dedicated to Billie’s oldest son, Joey.
Besides the fact that Green Day played, which is the greatest thing in the world, an even greater thing happened during the 40-hour song, “Jesus of Suburbia.” On this tour the song, or portions of it, have been given over to aspiring musicians from the audience in a sort of crap-shoot way (see Construction Hat Guy). Usually it works out well. Occasionally, it works out really fabulously.
Billie began to ask the audience if they could play “Jesus of Suburbia” and was about to settle on a guy with a sign when the guy said two words he never should have uttered, “What song?” Billie looked at him said, “What song? What did I just say, dumbass?” and moved on to a girl with a sign standing next to him. What happened next was magical, and it was a good thing a professional bootlegger… uh… caught it on tape.
Stephanie debuts with Green Day, Madison Square Garden, July 27, 2009
Elijah needs salvation from his good ways - Green Day - Madison Square Garden1*
1. Song of the Century
2. 21st Century Breakdown
3. Know Your Enemy
4. East Jesus Nowhere
6. Static Age
7. Before the Lobotomy
8. Are We the Waiting
9. St. Jimmy
10. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
11. 2000 Light Years Away
12. Welcome to Paradise
14. When I Come Around
15. Disappearing Boy
16. Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
17. Thank You (Led Zeppelin)/ Sweet Child O’ Mine (Guns N’ Roses)/ Take Me
Out to the Ball Game/ 99 Bottles of Beer/ Iron Man (Riff)
18. Brain Stew
21. Basket Case
23. King For a Day
24. Shout/ Earth Angel (The Penguins)/ Swanee/ I’ll Be There
25. 21 Guns
26. American Eulogy
27. American Idiot
28. Jesus of Suburbia
30. Drama Queen
31. Last Night On Earth (acoustic)
32. Good Riddance
The show traditionally ends with Good Riddance performed by Billie on guitar, and some surprise acoustic numbers have come before it lately. Tonight’s show held a beautiful “Drama Queen” (my first time hearing it live), and a soulful “Last Night on Earth.”
Goodbye until next time. Like tomorrow??
I think the saddest part… and mind you, I had a super time… was not being in the pit and missing the chance to meet Adrienne Armstrong. Apparently she was asking folks in the pit to help with the natural resources project that the band is involved with, the Natural Resources Defense Council or NRDC. You know, some nature crackpots that keep talking about saving the planet or something like that. Good people. It would have been nice to say hello.
Nonetheless, I still had one more show to go. The second night of two shows is always better.*