“American Idiot Tour”
Hershey’s Giant Center
Hershey, PA – October 26, 2004
Nearly a decade after Green Day (drummer, Tre Cool, bassist, Mike Dirnt, and lead singer/guitarist, Billie Joe Armstrong) dropped their first smash hit album “Dookie,” they’re back on the scene, older, wiser, and a bit more political than fans are used to.
The three pioneers of punk pranksters dropped their seventh major label disc on September 21 2004. The guitar driven rock opera “American Idiot” takes place in a 7-11 parking lot, featuring characters like “St. Jimmy”, “Whatsername,” and the protagonist “Jesus of Suburbia.” Fans will also be surprised to find an ending to the classic “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” in the song “Wake Me Up When September Ends.” The fifty-seven minute punk rock operetta covers a wide range of topics like conformity (a Green Day favorite), the current war in Iraq, and finding your individuality in a society driven by reality television.
Green Day kicked off their tour of “American Idiot” (which debuted at number one, the bands first album to top the charts ever) with fellow punksters New Found Glory and Sugarcult on October 19 2004. The trio of thirty-somethings made their way to Hershey’s Giant Center on Tuesday, October 26, their sixth stop on the national leg of their international tour. Sugarcult started off the night, with not much enthusiasm from the crowd, although the guitarist was able to get a few of those in attendance on their feet. Their pitiful attempt at witty banter between songs made for a short set, leaving fans with merely encouragement to vote.
New Found Glory was better at stimulating a response from the crowd, dishing out more interaction and taking time between songs to actually converse with their fans. Lead singer Jordan Pundik and guitarist Steve Klein not only joined fans in the crowd, but after the set was finished, Pundik conversed with fans sitting in the section closest to the backstage area. Although they displayed better stage presence than Sugarcult, they still had trouble getting the crowd on their feet and moving. Apparently the audience was in the same boat, saving energy for the main event.
Green Day took the stage around eight o’clock. By that time the crowd was quite anxious, wondering if the guys still had what it takes to pull of those crazy nine-minute, five movement compositions “Jesus of Suburbia” and “Homecoming” from the new album. Not only did they pull it off with style and grace, but with an immense amount of energy as well. Along with playing nine of the thirteen songs off of the new album, the band couldn’t get away without mixing in some of the classic fan favorites like “Longview”, “Basket Case”, “Minority”, and closing out with the always appropriate “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).” Leaving the crowd satisfied seemed like an unrealistic ambition, but with a set of over twenty songs jam packed into two hours, it was hard not to find one of your favorites, new or old school.
Not only did the trio deliver an energetic, flawless performance, but it was a show full of surprises and definitely not a show for the conservative. At one point, a male fan wearing the same outfit as Billie Joe was pulled on stage and, to his surprise, received a kiss from the Dickie’s clad Papa of Punk. While the band took a quick break, a man dressed in a pink bunny suit rushed the stage and chugged a beer in less than a minute as the crowd cheered him on. Random, but apparently the crowd found it entertaining.
Green Day’s crowd interaction and stage presence was phenomenal. Armstrong grabbed three members of the audience and made a mock Green Day of them, having them finishing out the song he had slowed down and drug out. At the end of the performance, Billie Joe told one of the guys to keep his guitar and demanded that another come back and stage dive.
But for those who felt that the new political Green Day had strayed from their past of immature, insane antics learned quickly that even at thirty-two, they can still act like a band of angst-ridden thirteen year-olds. Green Day’s sick humor, obscene gestures, and frequent use of profanity in their live shows is something better shared with friends and peers as opposed to say parents or younger siblings. But as evolution would have it, getting older does mean showing signs of maturity, and “American Idiot” has shown that Green Day has mastered the ability to become older and wiser without losing the angry, immature, punk kid inside.
After all, what good is having your cake if you can’t eat it too?
– Kristin Monahan, May 2005