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:

image
image
image

So much pyro onstage!

image
image
image

Tiny GA section. 

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.

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:

image

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. 

image

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. 

image

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. 

Hedwig and Angry Inch is probably as close to a religious experience as I will ever get. It’s a feeling that’s similar to when you leave a really amazing rock concert. Kristen and I saw a matinee of Mothers and Sons yesterday and played the 5pm lottery for the 7pm performance of Hedwig. We were semi-sad when we didn’t win because that would mean hanging out for another couple of hours and not being home by 10pm. But then we won the 8pm lottery for the 10pm performance and we realized that there was little-to-no-chance that any tourists from Oklahoma would be waltzing in by accident so the show would probably be the most risque it could be. Our seats were great – the Belasco being a teeny tiny house and all. We went and put glitter on our eyes at Sephora (because, well, obviously.) and then returned to the theatre to be rocked out of our brains.

Let me backtrack for a second: A friend sent me a copy of the off-Broadway cast recording in 1999. I was almost 13. Being that I was 13, I didn’t really get it. But fast forward to a couple of years later and I’d fully immersed myself in the scores of shows like HAIR and The Rocky Horror Show, so I was now 100% on board with Hedwig. I knew pretty much every word. Which is an odd thing for a 15 year old to be able to boast especially when their friends in Suburbia, USA have never heard of glam rock or John Cameron Mitchell. 

It’s a rock concert from the second Yitzhak introduces Hedwig. I probably would’ve been really annoying to sit next to if not for the fact that everyone in the audience was pumped as could be to be there. The lights, minimal set, and animation for Hedwig were beautiful and overwhelming (in a good way). Lena Hall was the perfect mix of tough and vulnerable with a beautiful, crystal clear voice to match. The Angry Inch band tore it up every second.

And last but most certainly not least, Neil Patrick Harris never once made Hedwig… into The NPH Show and was an amazing Hedwig – vocally and physically. I will never understand how he jumps around the set in 6" platform heels for 100 minutes with ease.

And thank you, NPH, for calling out the latecomers: “It’s a 10 o’clock show! How could you be late?!”

The entire cast onstage pours their blood, sweat, and tears into the show and it’s amazing the watch. Also: not one cell phone went off during the performance which was a refreshing change from the matinee of Mothers and Sons where 4 cell phones went off in 90 minutes. At least not that we could hear over the score. I don’t know how the HIMYM fans will react to seeing NPH onstage but I’m curious to find out. And although I’ve seen him in person before, saying hi and thanks to John Cameron Mitchell afterward was fun too.

I was absolutely wire after the show. It was really difficult to fall asleep. Oh well, totally worth it. I will definitely be back to Hedwig and the Angry Inch again. And soon. It’s not about Neil Patrick Harris (he’s great, but I’m not a diehard fan), it’s about the music and the energy.

Uno, Dos, Tre…

I’d bought a ticket a few weeks back for Cuatro! at the CBGB festival and completely forgot what day it was for until about two days ago. Luckily Tanya was also going, so after a long day of work yesterday, and a delicious meal of authentic tacos at a tiny little place called Oaxaca on a street called ‘Extra Place,’ I met up with her at the Anthology Film Center on 2nd and 2nd.

Because the band, and CBGB’s, is awful at planning, they booked the premiere of this film on the same night as Broadway Idiot, and since Broadway Idiot had a talkback afterward, of course everyone went there. There were probably 15 people at Cuatro!, but we didn’t care. We were there to have fun. 

It was a incredibly fun trip down memory lane and made me remember how much fun October 2011 to April 2013 was. It was amazing to see their creative process and how much fun they have while at it.

It also made me want to pick up my guitar (which has been sitting in it’s case for a few weeks now) again. Which is always awesome too.

I look forward to see Broadway Idiot soon, and all the future documentaries to come from Green Day (fingers crossed, right?). 

This Brutal Love: Green Day Plays Barclays, April 7th, 2013

Nothing describes a Green Day concert on the floor better than the title of a song off of Tre, “Brutal Love.” You will sweat. You will get kicked. You will get stepped on. You will get shoved. You may find yourself in a mosh pit. You may even get kicked in the head by a crowd surfer. But all the while you’re smiling because there’s no place you’d rather be than down in front, and center, at a Green Day concert.

My friends and I were about midway back when we finally made our way down to the floor at Barclays. The venue was far from capacity and the opening act (Best Coast) was far from going onstage. If this was as far as we got, that’d be fine (but we knew we’d get closer eventually).

image

Best Coast eventually came on and in retrospect, I enjoyed them (and it turns out I’d heard them before because they have a song on the Girls soundtrack!). But really, does Green Day need an opening anymore? It’s like giving Paul McCartney an opening act – you just don’t. Anyways, Best Coast was good, but after listening to them for 25 minutes and getting amped up with a recording of Queen (video! this video just makes me so happy), we were ready for the main event.

image

The lights lowered and the guys came out, the crowd on the floor moved forward (obviously), and it began. They opened with 99 Revolutions off Tre, because it’s the 99 Revolutions Tour, duh. They played a half-dozen songs off the new trilogy and then started to dig pretty deep into their catalogue (Burn Out, Going To Pasalacqua, She, etc.).

image

image

image

image

Now this side! AY-OOOOO!!

The full set list is available here. I think my favorites of the night were Stop When the Red Lights Flash, Holiday, St. Jimmy, Letterbomb, Stay the Night, and Brutal Love. Okay, I really liked all of them. But especially Stop When the Red Lights Flash. Holiday can still get a crowd going like it’s their job, as can Letterbomb. It was really cool to hear X Kid live (first time, I think?) and I was glad they closed their first set with Minority (Warning FTW!). 

Side note: The lighting designs on this tour were pretty fucking fantastic. Kudos to whoever programmed those lights.

image

image

As promised in the beginning, we made our way to the front. Well, about four people deep. Not bad. Above is the packed stadium that was now entirely behind us. The crowd was amped again when their encore included American Idiot and everyone’s favorite 9-minute anthem to how much living in small town America blows, Jesus of Suburbia

image

image

King for a Day.

image

St. Jimmy!

image

Brutal Love.

image

I snapped this shot at some point during the show and I’m pretty sure it captures exactly how we all felt: on air, elated, although covered in sweat. There’s no better pain than the kind you feel after a Green Day concert. Your ears are ringing, the lower half of your body is in extreme pain from three hours of jumping and dancing, you have no voice, and you’re covered in sweat.

But like I said at the beginning: there’s no place you’d rather be then right there.

image