There are few bands I would voluntarily wait over twenty hours to see. Green Day has been, and always will be one of them.
A new Green Day album is coming, and I'm promising you that this will be an album to remember. Revolution Radio's release is planned for October 7th, 2016, an exciting feat considering the last album from the trio came in 2012. Green Day announced their small club tour nearly a month ago, and are already nearly done. The announcement and tour dates came quick, catering to the fans who were dedicated and already expecting new content. I luckily managed to swipe two tickets: one for Columbus, OH. And another for Philadelphia, PA. After a sickness spread through the band, the few handful of dates were canceled. Columbus was left to be the new opening show of the tour, and I would be there to see a plethora of brand new songs played life for the very first time. As a Green Day fan since fourth grade, I found myself preparing to enter nirvana.
I began my wait around 3:00 PM, the day before the first show in Columbus. At the Newport Music Hall, I lined up behind two friends of mine from previous Green Day shows. I'm no stranger to waiting extended periods of time just for a barricade spot. I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to see the tour kick off in the smallest venue of the club tour, with just a 1,700 capacity. Compare this to the sold out stadiums for nearly 100,000 people, and you'll begin to feel the electricity I felt in my veins at any given moment on that windy September day. The wait itself was one of the most enjoyable I have experienced. We met a few very wise homeless people, toured Ohio State University's campus, which was just across the street, and had some of the best pizza of my life at Blaze. I rejoined with some of my past Green Day friends in line too. My friend Taylor and I met at my first Green Day show in 2013, which coincidentally happened to be her first Green Day show too. We are both absolute die-hards, so we are accustomed to mutually sharing the mix of vomit-inducing nauseousness that comes right before doors open and excitement that also tends to induce vomit as well.
The two of us managed to make it through doors and to the barricade free of vomit. Now all that was left to do was wait. We had two hours in the pit to stand before the opener, Dog Party, came on. Time seemed to stretch on for days, but at promptly 8:00 PM, two brightly-colored girls emerged on stage, visibly nervous. I was already familiar with the band; they hail from the East Bay's punk music scene and often play alongside Billie Joe Armstrong's son's band, SWMRS. The two tiny sisters play a show much larger than their bodies convey. Their blend of Bikini Kill and Ramones influences makes the most bad-ass girl gang soundtrack ever. My personal favorites are "Cry" and "Sapphires". The duo is as genuine as they come, humble and powerful by all means. Being sisters, the melodies are spot-on and classically blended to perfection. I was thoroughly impressed with their first performance under a headliner of this size and stature. The only nervousness shown was in quick, quirky comments made in between songs. Their delivery screamed confidence and demanded respect, and they received just that from an enthusiastic crowd.
Another half an hour passed before the unmistakable first notes of "Bohemian Rhapsody" cut through the speakers. In the usual Green Day tradition, the crowd all joined together to sing the classic song with so much enthusiasm that Freddie Mercury himself would be proud. Next came "Blitzkrieg Bop" and the classic Drunk Bunny. This bunny costume is a long-standing part of every Green Day show. A "mysterious" culprit comes out in the costume, acting as blackout drunk as possible, and entertaining the crowd by any means necessary. After the quick skit of skipping, crowd-pleasing, and tipsy turnovers, western shoot-out music hushed the crowd. And with the same force, one band may give Wembley Stadium, Green Day burst into the room of under two-thousand. The crew could not be happier to find themselves in front of their dedicated fans once again. Opening song bets had already been placed before the show, and most were pleasantly surprised when the new track, "Bang Bang" kicked off the show. Next was another new addition: Revolution Radio. And so the concert went, Green Day commanding the crowd in a way only they can, demanding "hey-oh's" back from the audience, crowd surfers, fans to join them on stage to sing and stage dive. Billie Joe Armstrong remains one of the best musical entertainers of our time. The man may be 44,but he shows none of it. He runs back and forth across the stage, plays with the excitement of a sixteen-year-old at their first show, and leaves absolutely nothing on the floor. His energy is contagious, spreading a vigorous attitude across the hearts of all in attendance. He pleads the crowd to leave their worries at home: "There's no more work. There's no more school. There is only right here, right now". People of all ages are focused in on this music, on the extraordinary feat that this band manages to pull off when every attendee feels exhilarated afterwards, rejuvenated with life, love and empowerment. The setlist has no weak points and consists of hits both old and new, stretching from the unreleased album back to Kerplunk. There are moments of wild chaos, and others with reflective peace (i.e "St. Jimmy" and "Still Breathing"). The band performs two encores, one with a classic such as "American Idiot" and Jesus of Suburbia", and another acoustic round with "Good Riddance" and the new track, "Ordinary World".
I may have vomited over the barricade from a mix of excitement, disbelief, and lack of nutrition, but I refused to leave. Nothing was stopping me from seeing my favorite band do what they did best: perform for their biggest fans. There is a mutual respect there that Green Day has never failed to acknowledge. Billie has said before that he prefers the term "family" over "fans", because, after all, Green Day has grown up alongside their fan base. With a career past the legal drinking age, Green Day have grown, changed, and morphed into a new entity, much like their own fans. I managed to luckily get two picks: one from Billie, and another one from Mike, who personally picked nine of the fans who had waited to longest to receive picks before the show. These small displays of appreciation are what separates Green Day from the rest. It's not hard to believe that after all their fame and success, they haven't succumbed to an egotistical and selfish attitude, just because the band consists of genuinely good people, who remain the closest of friends both on and off the stage. The three original members share loads of memories from their humble beginnings to their sold-out stadium retrospection. Those men are making music for all the right reasons: to empower, to encourage, and to outwardly share life's most ambiguous feelings.
Philly's show handed me a surprise: floor seats instead of the pit. I was disappointed to learn I had made the five and a half hour drive for seats, but regardless, this was my favorite band, and I was going to make the best of the circumstances. The show once again started with Dog Party, who continue to blow me away with their talent and catchy girl-power sound. Much like the Columbus show, Philly began with all the bells and whistles. No matter how many times I see Green Day, I always get feelings of excitement and pure disbelief. This is the band that made me who I am today. Being in the same room as them, screaming along to lyrics that have helped me through the most difficult periods of my life, and meeting friends from across the globe (i.e Britain, Spain), there is nothing better than that. Suddenly, I found myself being handed a broken General Admission Pit wristband from a man who noticed my enthusiasm. He nodded at the bracelet. I didn't hesitate to wrap it around my wrist and run into the pit with the approval of the security guard's passing glance. I found myself in the pit, overcome with absolute luck from the man's generosity. I made the rest of the show into a memorable story; I crowd surfed three times, not without the notice of Mike Dirnt. who pointed me out. I found a fun pack of older guys who had experienced the Dookie tour firsthand and sang my heart out until the band left the stage.
The two trips I made to Columbus and Philly to see my favorite band reminded me of a few things. First, Green Day has a place in my heart that will never be overtaken. This is the band that gave me to courage to live life as myself, as a leader and not a follower. I dove straight into punk rock after their influence and found that my entire personality was shaped by this music, this lifestyle, this ideology. I could not be Brandi Powell without Green Day. Secondly, I remembered how genuine concert friends are. Spending cold nights in very, very sketchy cities, packed together for heat and protection from the night lurkers, you tend to get close both physically and emotionally to the other people in line. After all, you all share enough love for this band that you've willingly subjected yourself to a night on the streets of a major city, instead of a warm bed. The friendships made here are unrivaled. Lastly, I remembered why I do what I do: why I write, why I go to so many concerts, why I listen to music religiously, why I try to be open-minded, why I am so independent. All of these are outcomes from a life based around music, love, and respect. Being bound to music the way I am, I have experienced people from all walks of life. I've learned so much from those wiser than I. I've had my creativity sparked by the magic only music can provide for me. Everything I am and everything I do is a result of a lesson learned from a song, or an album in its entirety. And how did I begin to become a music fanatic? Oh yeah, Green Day. A band I had now seen four times. And never once have I felt happier than what I experience when I attend their shows. So for all of you that have yet to find your calling, or your muse, or your place in this world. Don't be afraid to go out and experience life. Find your calling and own it. And never be afraid to ask if anyone has the time to listen to you whine a bit.