By the time I got to the kickoff show of Green Day’s current North American tour leg, I was stressed and a bit exhausted. The weeks leading up to the show have been overwhelming emotionally and just sucky. I’ve been missing the idea of California and my life here in New York has been droning on. I’ve been restless and unsure and stuck about many things lately, and I’ve only wanted to think of big ideas that I’m afraid will never come true. Combined with a general life pathos, well, let’s just say that I wish the Last Ride In was actually on a surfboard and not on what feels like a runaway train. It’s been good, but it’s been hella frustrating, too. And not in a fun, Frustrators, sort of way either.
Luckily, I’ve seen some pretty good bands since Green Day (or actually the Foxboro Hot Tubs) was last in town back in April, like the Mystic Knights and Prima Donna, but I’ve also been lucky to see old school punks and shows such as The Avengers, Jello Biafra and the School of Guantanamo Medicine, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, the English Beat, Courtney Love, Faith No More, and Star Fucking Hipsters. I’ve come across smaller bands over the time, too, the crazed Cula A Buco playing with the Cobras and Prima Donna in Santa Cruz, local NYC bands, the Homewreckers, the Sandworms, Yula and the Extended Family, and a few more whose names I can’t remember. It’s been good musical times.
Though I’ve seen many great shows over the last few months, Green Day was never far from my mind. I missed Wembley last June because I couldn’t get over the expensive Summer airfare pond known as the Atlantic Ocean, and that made me sad. Luckily, a little piece of Wembley came home to me as Jax sent me the Ticket That Went To Wembley Without Me. Thanks, Jax!
Since missing Wembley (and I’ve been lucky through the year, so I’m not whining about it… anymore), the second leg of the North American tour has been on my mind what with making mental plans about which shows to go to, how to get there — if I can get there — all the while attempting to avoid a 21st century breakdown simultaneously. Sigh.
Though I’ve seen a lot of great bands since those halcyon days of Pinhead Gunpowder playing at the small 924 Gilman in February or those beautiful nights at Don Hill’s or the Bowery Electric with the Foxboro Hot Tubs in April, I’ve got to say that I have been a little spoiled by the smaller, more intimate shows that Green Day or any of their members in all of their varieties may play. I’d love to see Green Day in a smaller space, and the amphitheaters are going to be the equivalent of as small and intimate of a Green Day show that I’m going to get after missing their shows last year at the Bowery Ballroom and Webster Hall in NYC.
I’m excited by the amphitheater tour, though I’ve not always been so thrilled at the thought that either there was no pit at some venue or as I found out last night, there would be no catwalk for Billie Joe to go strutting down. I had thought about that possibility, but the reality was a bit like, oh, bummer, no catwalk at all. After which I thought to myself that that was a bit whiny. I didn’t even have to worry, though, because Green Day can adapt to any venue, and adapt they did. It was a great show, despite the dicky boys in the area of the pit that my friend and I found ourselves in. I heard later that if only we could have seen the other side of the pit, we would have known that there was plenty of space over there to dance.
Since we got to the show just as Green Day went on after a traffic jam on lovely NJ Highway 295 stopped our progress (thanks Rachel for clarifying that for me, lol), by the time we caught our breath, had a beer and some cigarettes, and entered the pit area, we could not see over the heads of anyone and assumed that there was no space on the far side of the pit. I suppose there was an entrance on the Ben Franklin side of the space, but we entered on the Walt Whitman side and into a wall of people.
No one was really dancing in the pit, it was more pushing and shoving, and I can get a bit wild. Most of the time, it’s all good, but I ended up behind this tall fellow whose space I entered and I am not sure if he was trying to block me from taking his space (which I wasn’t trying to do), or blocking his girlfriend from being pushed by me or the people that were pushing me from behind. The day was so stressful that I actually got angry at his elbow blocking and literally punching me in the side and chest with them. No way do I play that. I pinched his arm when he kept doing it. I was trying to get past him and out of his way, but his elbows were blocking everything and I couldn’t move anywhere. At the same time, I was so warm that I thought I was going to faint. If only I had known that the other side of the pit was empty, I would have been much happier, and not felt the need to annihilate this tall asshole in front of me. At that point, I sorely missed my burly and stoic Cobra men, who would have chomped his elbows off, or at least been able to see over the heads of the crowd. Those boys are tall!
Anyway, the show itself was great. The band had a frantic energy that did not stop onstage. I was also totally psyched when Billie Joe came out with fluffy blond hair. Yes, folks, you heard it, it’s a HAIR ALERT!
You know how I am about taking pictures (I’m not much of a photographer lately anyway since I hate my camera and I don’t like taking a lot of photos at shows anyway), so I only have two of them, but it just so happens that xGeneralxS, who took some amazing photographs of the Foxboro Hot Tubs at Don Hill’s before her camera died, was at the Camden show! I’ve only seen a few of the photos, and as usual, she’s caught the band beautifully. Fith Photography, who posted a gallery of photographs on Flickr, also took some great shots and both kindly agreed to let me highlight some of their photographs. Thank you!
The setlist structure was primarily the same with each section changed up a little bit, 21CB, AI, Old School, 21CB, Encore 1, Encore 2, and the playing of “Paper Lanterns” during the “old school” portion of the night felt really special. There was a fresh ferocity from the band as they launched into their huge back catalog of songs. A reviewer at Spin wrote that they didn’t seem as emotionally invested singing the older material as they seemed to be when performing the newer stuff. I’m not sure about their assessment, it’s possible, particularly when they come blasting on with “21st Century Breakdown,” at the show’s opening and the song crawls right under your skin. I love to hear it kick off the set at each show that I’ve been to so far this year. While 21CB might be grittier than “Paper Lanterns,” I’ve never had the thought that they were more emotionally invested in one type of their music than the other, though I do think that Green Day believes its newer music is more accomplished than their older stuff. As to whether they have fun playing one more than the other, I think that’s quite arguable. But what the hell do I know? Just shut up and dance.
“21st Century Breakdown” – Green Day, Camden, NJ – RockConcertNo1Fan’s Youtube Channel
Billie Joe’s voice sounds crystal clear. I’ve noticed this not only from the European tour that I’ve seen on Youtube and the smaller shows that I attended earlier this year, but most especially during the band’s performance of “Last of the American Girls” on Jimmy Fallon the other night. As I was listening to it, for a second I thought that they were actually lip-syncing the song, it sounded so good and like the album recording. Hearing his voice live at Camden, and joined by the best rhythm section in music these days, Mike and Tre, they kept a dynamic beat throughout the entire night. These guys just love to play, new stuff, old stuff, their stuff, someone else’s stuff. I think that’s kinda the bottom line with them, not emotional investment between old and new. Haven’t we all had that argument already?
1st Part, “¡Viva la Gloria!” – Green Day, Camden, Susquehanna Bank Center, 8/3/2010 – chixLL
“Hitchin’ A Ride” and Saving a Kid from Being Crushed – Green Day at Camden, 8/3/2010 – denwilliams
“Boulevard of Broken Dreams” – Thank you for the last 22 years! – chixLL
I guess because it’s been so tough lately, “She,” a song that I try to avoid listening to because I just don’t want to mentally crack, really got to me on Tuesday, though a bit through it, I felt awfully faint and crushed. The video below is a bit like my experience of the song, as I was really trying to concentrate and listen, but each time that I started feeling that emotional scream inside, I think my psyche rescued me by making me slightly blank out at points of the greatest emotional and heat distress.
“She” with long stares into the ceiling (but sounds great) – Green Day, Camden, Susquehanna Bank Center, 8/3/2010 – RockConcertNo1Fan
By “Jesus of Suburbia,” I was still slightly in a state of daze. Billie Joe sang the entire song, and the shape of the amphitheater really offered a lovely background soundscape to the music and made the tune’s complexities stand out. I loved it.
“Jesus of Suburbia” – Green Day, Camden, Susquehanna Bank Center, 8/3/2010 – RockConcertNo1Fan
I was overcome by the tons of confetti that blew out during “Minority,” and by the time the second encore came around, I needed water. I also realized that I was so emotionally drained by then (as well as dehydrated), that it would probably be a bit too much to stick around for the sad part of the show. Sigh. I listened to the encore outside, desperately searching each vendor stand for water. Billie Joe’s voice was still clearly heard when I finally found a bottle of water in the amphitheater outdoor atrium. I gulped down the refreshment and listened to the last strains of “Good Riddance” outside, with the song drifting up the hill and out of the sides of the venue.
I’m going to do it all over again in Hartford on Thursday. It’s gonna be a blast.
Here’s some links from last night’s show:
SoundSpike: In Pictures Story by Editor Hali McGrath and Photographer Rob Loud.
Spin.com: Green Day Kick Off Epic Tour Near Philly
Rolling Stone: Green Day launch Tour with Punk Marathon
Popstar.com: Green Day Returns to U.S. for Second Leg of North American Tour
Green Day Picture Vault: Camden, NJ Photos by Jimmy / Marie
Green Day Authority: Camden Post
Michael Alan Goldberg: Flickr Photostream
Fith Photography: Flickr Photostream