Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Green Day with AFI, Comcast Center, 8/16/10

OK, it’s been a week now since this show and I NEED to write about it. To be honest, before I even arrived at the venue, I knew I would be writing a stellar review of this concert. I’d seen both bands before, so I already knew Green Day is hands down the best live band I’ve ever seen, and opener AFI is quite exceptional as well. (Plus these are two of my favorite bands, and two of the groups most responsible for making me fall in love with rock ‘n roll back in the day). Needless to say, I was psyched for the show. I actually got butterflies in my stomach on the way to the Comcast Center.

Not a stupendous picture, but here's Davey Havok.
AFI is well known in today’s alternative music scene, but many of Green Day’s fans these days are more mainstream listeners, so AFI actually had to work to win them over. The band has been playing headlining shows almost exclusively for the last decade, so it must be a challenge for them to adjust to opening again. AFI is my second favorite band of ALL TIME and lead singer Davey Havok is pretty much my hero, so it was even difficult for me to handle the fact that not everyone around me loved them immediately. Nevertheless, all four members gave the set as much enthusiasm as they do to a headlining performance, and soon the crowd of both devoted AFI fans and new recruits was whooping it up at the end of every song. It's no wonder Spin Magazine named them one of the “25 Greatest Live Bands Now” back in 2006. (Green Day was on the list too, in case you were wondering).

After a traditional appearance from the Drunken Bunny (a costumed member of the crew who entertains before the set), “Song of the Century” began to blare over the speakers, and the crowd sang along among cheers and shouts of excitement. The three members of Green Day ran onstage and immediately launched into “21st Century Breakdown.” They ended up playing a ridiculous 34-song set that lasted for three hours (!!) The songs included singles, plenty of tracks off of American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown, along with a few old gems, such as “Scattered,” “One For the Razorbacks” and “2000 Light Years Away.” For the full set list, go here.

If you’ve never been to a Green Day show, you don’t know what you’re missing. I don’t care whether you like their music or not. I don’t care if you only go to tiny indie shows. I don’t care if you won’t listen to anything they recorded after Dookie (actually I do care, because that makes you an idiot, but that’s besides the point). The point is, you absolutely need to see them someday. Even my boyfriend’s mother (who, according to the CDs in her car, listens to Celtic Woman and not much else) couldn’t stop raving about the show, even though she did not know a single word of a single song.

Again, not the best picture I've ever taken, but I'm just proud of how close I was.

A large portion of Green Day’s greatness has to do with front man Billie Joe Armstrong, who has more energy than any other lead singer I’ve ever seen. He sprints around stage so much that after just a few songs, he is literally dripping with sweat; after he laid down on stage mid-set, several crew members had to come wipe the sweat off the floor. He screams at the audience, whipping them into a frenzy. He pulls kids onstage to sing, dance and stage dive (and even gives out a free guitar to a lucky fan). He sprays the pit with squirt guns, and even blasts t-shirts into the audience with a t-shirt gun. Green Day has been around for 22 years now, but Armstrong still seems to have an absolute blast at every show.

Let me just take a minute here to brag. I worked my way up to the front row, right in the center. This means I got to witness Armstrong’s drooling while singing throughout the entire show, and I had basically the best view in the house when he mooned the audience. Yeah I know, you guys are jealous.

Let’s not forget about the rest of the band though, because drummer Tre Cool and bassist Mike Dirnt are crucial to the performance as well. Between their crazy faces and musical skills, they kept the crowd both laughing and rocking, often at the same time. Cool, Dirnt and backing musician Jason Freese even took turns singing during the cover of the Isley Brothers’ “Shout.”

Photo courtesy of GreenDay.com

As if the exceptional music and goofy stage banter weren’t enough, explosions and fireworks also lit up the stage over and over throughout the night. This means I literally had my face melted off, because I could feel the heat from the flames. During the double encore, confetti rained down on the audience and got plastered to sticky, sweaty bodies in the pit. (It sounds gross but it was beautiful in person). The perfect end to a fabulous evening. Green Day has perfected the perfect live show, transforming it into a masterpiece. It’s the kind of show that reminds me why I love music and why I spend so much money on concert tickets.

Now, I have done the best I can to convey just how incredible Green Day is live, but there’s just no way to do it justice completely through writing. Do yourself a favor and the next time Green Day (or AFI!) comes through your city, buy yourself a ticket. I can promise you won’t regret it.


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