On March 28th, I watched the band that has had probably the greatest influence on my taste in music and my job here at The Spin, blow the roof off the State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois.
For years, Green Day was one of those bands that I knew a few songs of, but didn’t really call myself a fan of. I mean, I like the Green Day songs I had heard and I for sure appreciated what they did for the alternative rock scene, but I also wasn’t much into alternative music at that point in my life. Then, during my freshman year of high school, my best friend Holden pretty much forced me to listen to American Idiot and I fell in love (You can read more about that on my first Green Day blog).
In early October of last year, the band comes back with their latest album, Revolution Radio, and shortly after the release, announce a tour. Immediately Holden texts Reece (another great friend who shares the love of Green Day) and me that they will be coming to the State Farm Center in Champaign. The reaction was pure joy. Since the three of us were into our first semester of college, we had classes when the presale went up, but lucky for us Holden’s dad Brad shared our love for live music and Green Day, and agreed to get the tickets. Brad was lucky enough to see Green Day in the 90s, when the following was much, much smaller. The day of the presale, Brad let us know that we unfortunately didn’t get general admission tickets, but we were in the very first row of seating. Our dream of seeing the Kings of Punk was coming true.
After the long wait, it’s finally the day of the show. When we get to the State Farm Center, we are ushered to the floor where our seats are, or were. When we reach the floor, we are told by the staff that due to a change in staging, our row of seats had to be removed. They try to seat us on the side stage, directly behind the audio equipment, which would have led to probably the worst view I have ever had for a concert. Holden, who had been waiting for this concert since 3rd grade, was not going to sit here. He requests that we exchange our tickets for wristbands for the general admission pit, right in front of the stage. After asking if we would give up our seats and “stand the whole time”, the very nice, helpful staff member returns with four wristbands, and my hands begin to tremble as I find myself three people from the barrier.
The opener for the night was the pop-punk band Against Me! We play a couple Against Me! songs here at the station; you’ve probably heard True Trans Soul Rebel. Since this show, I have had their music on repeat. They were a great opening band who got the crowd excited for what was to come.
Just before the show began, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody comes through the speakers and everyone in the pit joins in a chorus. Next, the familiar face and fluffy tale of a certain pink bunny emerges from backstage to pump up the crowd to The Ramones’ Blitzkrieg Bop. As the bunny leaves the stage, the lights go down, and we see Jason White, Tre Cool, Mike Dirnt, and finally Billie Joe Armstrong take the stage.
The guitars seer and cymbals crash as Know Your Enemy fills the arena, and Armstrong’s unmistakable voice is next, that’s when the fun really started. Next came the first two singles from the new record, followed by Holiday (my favorite, it was at this point I accidentally punched the fellow to my left, sorry, man).
The stage was set up in a “T”, and we were at the base of that “T”. This became a popular thoroughfare for Armstrong and bass player Mike Dirnt. Green Day does a great job of making their shows special for everyone in the crowd, but especially for a couple true fans. During Longview Billie Joe told the crowd that he was having some trouble singing, asking, “Does anyone know the words?” He picks a fan from the crowd; he hops the barrier and jumps on stage. Armstrong hands him the mic, and this guy, clearly overcome with excitement, runs around the stage, reaching out touching fans, and most importantly; nailing every word of the song. At the end of the song, he sails from the stage into the crowd and surfs his way back to his spot. During a cover of Operation Ivy’s Knowledge, Billie Joe calls up a fan to play guitar. As she takes the stage, it’s clear that she knows how to play guitar. She nails the three-cord progression, and struts around the stage, rocking with both White and Dirnt, clearly having the time of her life.
In total, the band played 23 songs and 4 encores; 7 from American Idiot, 6 from Revolution Radio, 5 from Dookie, 3 from Nimrod, 2 from Warning:, 2 from 21st Century Breakdown and Kerplunk! respectively, as well as 2 covers/medleys. If there is a Green Day song you know, they probably played it. When the encores came, American Idiot made the whole place jump and bang their heads, next was Jesus of Suburbia; to which I screamed every word. The show ended with Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) and confetti rained down. I left the stadium still shaking, from a show that easily ranks number 2 on the list of best concerts I’ve been to (behind the one and only Mumford & Sons). Green Day commands the stage in a way I believe no one else can. Billie Joe Armstrong is one of the greatest front men of all time, his banter will make you laugh, and his voice and the band’s music will give you the energy required to writhe and fist pump the entire show. If you get the chance, I urge you to see these guys live, and you probably will, Billie Joe claims he wants to keep touring for another 20 years.
Know Your Enemy
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
2000 Light Years Away
Hitchin' a Ride
When I Come Around
Are We the Waiting
Knowledge (Operation Ivy cover)
King for a Day
Shout / Always Look on the Bright Side of Life / (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction / Hey Jude
Jesus of Suburbia
Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)