Green Day @ Barclays, 3.15.17

I’ve seen Green Day a handful of times now. I don’t know how many; I don’t keep track. But I do know that music brings people together and anytime Matt and I are brought together for Green Day, it’s a good time. I failed to secure GA tickets when the presale came out months ago and we debated what or how to get seats for the past several months. 

Well, it came down to game time this year. Or, I guess you could say, it came down to Fuck Time. We bought seats in the nose bleeds on StubHub four hours before and we thought, well, it’s Green Day and our seats for PNC in Holmdel, NJ in 2010 sucked, too, but it’ll still be awesome to be in the room. When we arrived at our seats, which were basically on the right side of the stage against the wall, Matt and his girlfriend sat down and I went to ‘use the bathroom,’ aka scope out new seat as I’ve never been one to accept the shitty seats I’ve been dealt, even if they were the ones I bought. Nobody puts baby in the nosebleeds.

I found an area, still on the second level, but lower than where we were, directly across from the stage, that was inhabited by a railing, three or four high top tables and a few folding chairs, with a few people milling about. I scoped out the area, leaning against the railing, seeing if anyone would tell me move, and after 3 minutes, I rallied to the troops to relocate. The view was much better and we were all more than happy to sit (or lean) for the duration of the concert. Photos and more thoughts after the jump. 

Against Me opened and they were great, but we didn’t really pay attention to them. The setlist was the standard setlist that they’ve been playing on this arm of the tour and it included King For a Day, which although it’s a song all of us would like them to stop playing for the rest of time, I couldn’t help but sing along. Matt and I performed as much of the American Idiot choreography as we could. Some dude rocked out during Longview and BJA asked him after, ”are you trying to take my damn job?” BJA asked after, and I’m pretty sure the fan Billie Joe pulled up onstage to sing Know Your Enemy didn’t actually know the lyrics. 

I have a newly found respect for a couple of the songs from Revolution Radio that they played, mostly Youngblood and Forever Now

Billie Joe, a master in the art of subtlety let out an exasperated, “Fuck you, Donald Trump!” at the end of Letterbomb

St. Jimmy was out of this world energized. Always a favorite of mine to see performed. 

We watched on in horror, and also laughing, at the two kids who were sitting in folding chairs covering their ears and sulking while they’re parents (probably mid-to-late 30 something’s) danced and embarrassed the hell out of them.

The GA area was outrageously small and had no energy in it whatsoever. The three of us plus another couple who were probably of a similar age had more energy than all of the kids on the ground. I’ll just say this: There were far too many seats on the floor and the first rule of Green Day is: you don’t sit at Green Day

The energy was high for the first encore which included American Idiot followed by the sensible 7-minute Jesus of Suburbia

Lastly, I’m glad they’ve gone back to ending with Good Riddance. It’s just not the same when they don’t. 

i have a thousand other thoughts but they’d make no sense and this “review” is pretty consciousness as it is. Green Day concerts, regardless of where you’re sitting, are always a good time and should always be attended when possible. They bring people together and get people off their news feeds, even if only for two-and-a-half hours. The backdrops, pyro, and lighting were fucking awesome, too. Snaps for whoever designed the tour. Last, but not least, here are a few photos:

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So much pyro onstage!

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Tiny GA section. 

A couple of weeks ago I saw On Your Feet!, The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan at the Marquis Theatre. I only remembered some of her music growing up in the 90′s and I knew nothing about her life growing up in Miami. This was bound to be a history lesson on all fronts.

The timing of this show is perfect – a show about (a lot of) immigrants who do good shit and work their asses off. We need this right now in this country. I don’t think Gloria lived an extraordinary childhood by any means, but she was a very talented kid and to say that she’s lucky that Emilio found her is an understatement. The most amazing part of her story, though, was her recovery from her tour bus accident. I had zero idea this happened and her path to walking and dancing again is an inspiring one. (Sorry, spoiler alert?)

Luckily, this is a jukebox musical that is structured very well. The story flows and boredom is never really a thing that happens because every time you might find yourself looking for your Playbill, another one of her hit songs blares over the speakers and the energy in the audience spikes. Ana Villafane as adult Gloria and Alexandria Suarez as young Gloria were both excellent. Villafane sounded like an exact replica of Gloria herself. And lastly, Omar Lopez-Cepero, whom I remember from American Idiot, duh, was excellent as Emilio. 

On Your Feet! is a must-see for Estefan fans everywhere, at the very least.

Playbills For Sale

I have a handful of Playbills that I found while cleaning out some storage in my apartment and I’m selling them to make some extra $$ while I’m doing yoga teacher training. They are as follows…

  • The Cripple of Inishmaan (1x with Daniel Radcliffe!)
  • Hedwig & the Angry Inch (3x OBRC with Neil Patrick Harris)
  • Closer (1x from The Lyric Theatre in London)
  • Chicago (1x Broadway, 2002)
  • Rent (1x Angel Tour, September 2000 at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts)
  • Rent (1x Broadway, January 2000, 1x November 2004)
  • Rent (1x Broadway, 4000th performance with sticker!)
  • Merrily We Roll Along (1x City Center’s Encores – feat. Lin Manuel Miranda!)
  • American Idiot (2x tour in Boston, January 2012)
  • Waiting For Godot (1x Broadway feat. Patrick Stewart, November 2013)
  • Fences (1x Broadway revival feat. Denzel Washington, May 2010)
  • Murder Ballad (1x off-Broadway, June 2013)
  • The Pirate Queen (1x Broadway, April 2007)
  • Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang (1x Broadway, August 2005, 1x April 2005)
  • Evita (1x Broadway Revival, April 2012)
  • The Boy From Oz (1x OBC with Hugh Jackman November 2003)
  • The Crucible (1x 2016 Broadway Revival)
  • AIDA (1x Broadway 2003)

I’m selling these for $10 each, including shipping. Send me a message if you’re interested! 

Turn Off Your Facebook Feed

J doesn’t use Facebook. It’s not on his phone and he doesn’t log in. I haven’t had it on my phone in forever, but I sure as hell logged in way too often on my Macbook. Our bartender at brunch on Sunday told us how he hadn’t logged in for 10 days and had never felt better. I was inspired to do the same, so I logged out of Facebook yesterday afternoon and haven’t seen my feed in 24 hours. How many times have I clicked on the link for it reflexively out of habit? Too many. And instead of scrolling through my feed last night, I wrote cover letters. 

Every other link that’s on my feed is about how we’re screwed and the KKK is running the Trump regime and about how Trump is Hitler. I watched The Pianist on Saturday night and, holy shit, I guess it just takes a little reminder to refresh just how awful and unimaginable the Nazis were. No one in the administration so far is a Nazi. We’re getting “nationalist” confused for “white supremacist.” These are not the same things.

But my question is why the hell are we letting the media scare us so much about the future? They were 100% goddamn wrong about the election and so many other things. Why are we not fact checking their fear mongering headlines? The site snopes.com has been incredibly useful lately.

Remember when Mike Pence tried to pass a law forcing women to hold funerals for their miscarried or aborted fetuses? Yeah, that was a mostly false headline. The women were not responsible for the discarding of the tissue, the clinics that performed the services would be. And he didn’t actually support the use of electroshock therapy for gay conversion therapy either. I’m pretty sure there won’t be gay conversion therapy clinics opening anytime soon.

Is he still an ass-backwards religious turd that I would rather he was a farmer than a politician? Sure, but let’s not spread blatant lies about people so that people freak out for reasons that aren’t true.

This holiday season, please don’t reflexively repost “news” articles you see on your feed without reading and fact-checking them first. Let’s not be, as Green Day so eloquently once put it, “one nation controlled by the media.” Let’s save our sanity and our blood pressure. 

At the Barricade // Green Day @ Webster Hall, 10.8.16

I’d spent the last number of weeks looking for an extra ticket to see Green Day at Webster Hall. I posted on the event page, on my feed, friends feeds, etc. I was super annoying. But even as Saturday approached and no ticket was in sight, this wasn’t my first time at this rodeo and I had absolute faith that I’d get in. At 2pm on Saturday as I was laying down to take a nap, I looked st my phone to find a text from a Green Day friend asking if I still needed a ticket. After she verified that she knew the person and that she was not a scammer, I happily PayPal’ed her $100 and napped for about an hour.

I met up with a few Green Day friends at Bar None before going to meet up with my new best friend. There weren’t actual tickets, so we went in (luckily avoiding the entire square block long line to get in, thank fuck) and our names were checked off a list and our wristbands slapped on. Pictures after the jump 🙂

Webster Hall was already pretty packed so instead of trying to get closer going the way that everyone else was going (ie. the side closest to the door), we went to the opposite side and got right up against the barricade – pretty much – on the side. It was a first for me to be so close to the front, albeit the side, at a Green Day show, and at first I was like ‘where are all the people coming from that security is escorting out?’ and then I realized they were likely crowd surfers. Security sometimes pushed their way through us behind the barricade, too. Well, it was something. But we were close and got lots of love from BJA and Mike during the show, which was totally fun.

They played a 36ish song set, including some throws WAYYYYYY back that I hadn’t listened to in a LONG time. I probably appreciated hearing Nice Guys Finish Last and Minority, since I’m a huge fan of Warning. I’d never heard Nice Guys live before! I also, of course, loved hearing Bang Bang and Revolution Radio performed live.

Billie rhapsodized a lot on us all being together and to forget Facebook and the news for one night and just be present. I appreciated that. Still, there were a lot of phones up the entire time. Oh well.

American Idiot was especially timely given the state of our politics. And Jesus of Suburbia… who doesn’t love a 9-minute song cycle?

After two and a half hours of jumping, dancing, screaming, and singing we were sufficiently beat. I wasn’t deaf, which was surprising given how close I was to a few speakers.

I also picked up a completely affordable $40 shirt because no trip to see Green Day is complete without that.

I felt energized and inspired leaving the East Village but also really happy to go home and sleep. Because was I ever exhausted. But it was worth it. So, so worth it.

I was really, really confused when I first listened to Green Day’s new track, Bang Bang, from their upcoming album (!) Revolution Radio yesterday morning on Spotify. I got somewhat that it was from the POV of a mass shooter but it wasn’t until I watched the video they made accompanying the song with the lyrics that I realized, yes, this is exactly that.

And the lyrics are subtle as fuck.

Not since the band’s criticism of the Bush administration on American Idiot have they been really political or this discreet with their lyrics (in my opinion). They criticized the hell out of that administration and never once mentioned their names.

But the thing is: I’m not sure which mass shooters they’re criticizing. Billie Joe was quoted saying he was inspired to write the song and the album after joining in a march in NYC for Michael Brown and his unfortunate shooting by the police. But the song sounds much more like a commentary on the Omar Mateen’s (the Orlando shooter) of the country than a commentary on bad police shootings. Basically it sounds like he’s calling out Islamic extremism.

Before you get your panties in a twist, I think it is 100% possible to talk about Islamic extremists without painting every single Muslim as a terrorist (because they’re obviously not). If a Christian went out and killed people and said it was for Jesus, we’d have no problem calling him/her a Christian extremist without implying that all Christians are bad. So, if you can’t handle me using that phrase, than scroll to the next blog and enjoy living your life with trigger warnings. (Side note: all religions are bad, in my opinion.)

I digress. Anyways, I think this is probably the case because of the following lyrics:

I wanna be like the soldiers on the screen
It’s my private movie (Holy War)
Oh baby, baby, this is Viva Vendetta
Oh this is love or it’s World War Zero

What soldiers? Most likely ISIS since the news likes to play videos of them all the time. Holy War? Hmm. Viva Vendetta? ISIS just released a list of reasons why they hate us (meaning western culture); one of which was for invading their lands. And the lyrics,”I want to be a celebrity Martyr” just make me think this is about religion

Then again there are these lyrics that make me think it’s about the Dylan Roof’s of the country:

I am a semi-automatic lonely boy
You’re dead, I’m well fed
Give me death or give me head.

Lots of these mass shooters who haven’t been motivated by Islamic extremism often have in common that they’re loners who aren’t good with girls (give me head). They come from decent families (I’m well fed) who don’t see it coming (or maybe they did and ignored it).  

But despite the supposed-lyrics that it’s about all of the mass shooters, let’s not forget the bridge music that sounds very, very, very like Arabian/Middle Eastern music (2.05 mark in the song). The sound bites before the song starts, too, are about executions which are exclusively an ISIS/Islamic extremist practice right now (at least in the news; I know other religions have partaken throughout history, thank you). 

I really haven’t found much discussion online so I’d love to know what your take on the song is. All I know is that, despite the topic, I love the song. And I love the subtly. It’s American Idiot all over again. There are even homages paid to St. Jimmy and Letterbomb in there.

October 9th can’t get here fast enough.

Hush

I had “Hush” in my Netflix queue for a few weeks (months?) and I’d been meaning to watch it. Last night, after watching some sportball (the one with the basketball ring) with my dude at a local bar, we came back to my place and put it on. The one big thing that I didn’t know about it? John Gallagher Jr. was the killer.

it was about a deaf writer living in a secluded cabin who is preyed upon by a random killer in a mask with a crossbow and a knife. Some parts were in her point of view – silence – and it was really interesting to see a horror movie from a deaf person’s perspective. Her neighbor friend runs up to her glass deck door, screaming for her life and banging on the door, while she’s cleaning up from dinner, and she doesn’t hear a thing (obviously) and never notices. Her friend is killed right there and she never has any inclination to turn around. 

Things are made much harder for her when Gallagher takes her cell phone, turns off her power (no wifi!), and slashes her cars tires. 

The whole movie was kind of silly because, as always, the protagonist makes some dumb choices, but it’s a horror movie, so without those dumb choices, there would have been no movie. 

That said: it was different to see parts of this movie without sound. 

Also: it was really nerve wracking. 

Turn and face the strange.

This review is extremely late and probably totally irrelevant, but here goes. After the aforementioned Meatball Chowdown earlier this month, Matt invited me to a press performance of Lazarus, the new David Bowie musical at NYTW. The entire run was sold out and Cristin Milioti and Michael Esper were starring in it, as well as Michael C. Hall. Based on the movie The Man Who Fell to Earth, which Bowie starred in, it’s about an alien who comes to earth to get water for his dying planet.

Or so the short summary on IMDB says. I didn’t really get that from the show that I saw. To say it was odd and confusing is an understatement. There was a young girl in it, who kind of narrated Newton’s, the alien who fell to earth’s, venture and the actress who played her, Sophia Anne Caruso, was amazing. I can’t wait to see what she does next. Michael Esper played Valentine who’s in a somewhat tempestuous relationship with Elly (Cristin Milioti). Newton is played excellently by Michael C. Hall, who also happened to be my first Emcee in Cabaret in 2000. #throwback

I don’t remember much of the score or any more of the plot. It was really odd. It was really fun to watch and you can tell everyone up there is having a great time. Since the run sold out, I guess that’s what’s important (probably not, but let’s say yes for the time being). 

Do I think this’ll transfer? No. If it does, producers will have learned nothing from last season’s The Last Ship which everyone thought would do fantastically because Sting’s name was attached to it and, spoiler alert, it closed rather quickly. 

I loved seeing Cristin Milioti and Michael Esper onstage though. As always. 

American Idiot, at my alma matter; 11.21.15

Matt, my American Idiot and Green Day partner-in-crime for life, alerted me a few weeks ago that Pace University, the school I graduated from, was staging American Idiot this week and we bought tickets. I’m not sure how I missed this bit of information because I’m part of the Pace Performing Arts group on Facebook and maybe I’m on some kind of list serv for the department, but it seems I totally zoned out on this fact.

The Schimmel Theatre at Pace was built to mimic the Vivian Beaumont at Lincoln Center so it’s very large and we made sure to get there when the doors opened to get good seats. We ended up securing seats in the fourth row. We’d kind of wanted to be in the front row, but friends of the cast had commandeered those first. We spotted Leslie McDonel, the director and original cast member, there of course Gerard Canonico, another original cast member, was also in the lobby when we arrived. As you can see, we were excited:

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My friend Andrew and his girlfriend joined us minutes to showtime and we took in the set, which looked like a smaller version of the one designed for Broadway, and took (what are probably illegal) photos and settled in for the next 90 minutes. 

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The short version: We really, really enjoyed ourselves. These guys did an amazing job. I missed the anticipation of the curtain rising at the beginning, for sure. They had some great graphics that they used – stills from the republican debates and the like – and they used a bunch of soundbites from Trump. Ian Fairlee, who played Johnny, had a very strong voice that was totally reminiscent of John Gallagher Jr.’s more often than not. He made a few different choices as far as his portrayal and they all worked. For the first few songs they had him in a sweater and all I could think was “oh god, I hope he gets to take that off soon.” (He did.) David Park, who played Will, also had a really nice voice and made great choices as far as his character. He really pulled off the man-bun spectacularly too. As the much, much more bro-y version of Tunny was Connor Antico. He also had a great voice which started off sounding like a member of a boy band but got grittier as the show went on. McDonel made the decision to make Tunny and total and complete bro was much different than what we’ve seen on Broadway and on tour, but it worked. Matt and I always judge a Tunny by how long and strong he can hold his high note at the end of Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Well, we high-fived each other when Antico held onto it strongly to the point where we were wondering if it was a recording. 

Mary Claire Miskell, an original cast member of Broadway’s short-lived 13, played Whatshername, was really excellent. She embodied the character’s free spiritied-ness in a much younger (obviously) way than Rebecca Naomi Jones did. Marissa O’Donnell, seen on Broadway in Shrek, portrayed a heart broken and frustrated-as-fuck Heather. Her voice is beautiful but for me, in a rock musical, started out a bit too beautiful, but as the show rocked on, she found her vocal grittiness.  The last stand-out was Jamal Christopher Douglas as St. Jimmy. This was an interesting choice that McDonel made for this character, as it’s general played by a strung-out-looking skinny, somewhat jovial white dude. Douglas was anything but – he’s muscular, scary, and imposing. He had the presence of a drag queen, at some moments, but in a way that completely worked. It was just nothing like what we’d ever seen in past incarnations (that would include Berkeley, Broadway, Equity tour, non-Equity tour, etc). It feels silly not to give a shout-out to the last featured actor onstage, Sarah Hamaty, the Extraordinary Girl, who was great, but the character comes in so late that it always seems like barely a featured player.  Hamaty has a great voice and did her best with the movement in the song given that they obviously couldn’t suspend her from the ceiling. 

McDonel borrowed probably 1/3 of the original choreography from Broadway and the new choreography fit in just fine. Her direction is a new and smaller space was effective and visually beautiful. The band was on the top level of the stage and killed it. The lighting was extraordinarily effective and it was great to watch these students masterfully pull off a show that is so near and dear to our hearts. Standing ovations were given at the end and Good Riddance was, of course, the encore. 

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Afterward we stayed around for a bit to tell a bunch of the cast congratulations and they did “our” show proud.  I ran (okay, walked) up to to Connor Antico after, tapped him on the arm, and said, “You fucking killed that high note, man. SO Awesome! Congrats!” or at least it was some iteration of that. He really shattered our expectations and probably even showed Stark Sands up (sorry, Sands). We spoke to Ian Fairlee and Jamal Douglas, too, before I said goodbye to my Idiot friends and headed home.

American Idiot has two shows today (Saturday) and two tomorrow. Click here for more information. If you’re a fan of the show, go check it out. 

PLAY THIS MOVIE REALLY FUCKING LOUD!

Ben and I caught one of the two (or three?) screenings of Heart Like a Hand Grenade, the documentary about the creative process behind Green Day’s American Idiot, last night on the Upper East Side. Our theatre was half-empty but it was nevertheless a good time. 

Heart Like a Hand Grenade was like sitting in your living room and reuniting with old friends for the first time in a while and picking up like no time had passed at all. It was like listening to your favorite high school album for the first time in a decade (even though we all know that we have for sure listened to this album at least a couple times a year for the last 11 years).

The lights went down and onscreen was a notice, “PLAY THIS MOVIE REALLY FUCKING LOUD.” To be honest, they could’ve played it louder, but I’ve been hard-of-hearing from Green Day before so it’s probably best that it wasn’t. Billie Joe and Mike haven’t aged a day in 11 years. They took us through every track on the album, the recording process, the mixing process, and mixed it with cuts from a concert in California, presumably the first time they played through the album (oh, to have been there..). I laughed when Billie Joe was complaining about people on message boards trashing Warning and I wanted to jump up and be like, “Fuck those guys! Warning is the best!” You know, after American Idiot and Dookie

HLAHG was funny, serious, sad, and hilarious. The guys even thanked the fans in the credits: “Thank you to the fans who waited 11 years for this documentary.” You’re welcome, dude. As big fans: we left the theatre happy and sated. If you are in the music business or a Green Day fan, this is definitely worth a watch.