In the Bay Area, there is no such thing as a casual Green Day show. There never has been since the band's monumental rise to fame. Every show the band plays in the Bay, whether it's Oakland, San Jose, Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, or Mountain View, a hometown Green Day show is an event that is never to be missed.
The legendary punk trio composed of vocalist/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tre Cool, brought their highly anticipated Revolution Radio headlining tour to the Bay Area, in support of their twelfth studio album of the same name. This particular leg of the tour had been announced back in January, with the Oakland show being one of the most anticipated of the tour. Green Day delivered what could be classified as the best Bay Area show of the year. Filled with a career-spanning setlist, high energy rock music, heartfelt moments that allowed several fans to live out their dreams and sing with their favorite band, and a lot of pyro.
Around 7:30, Catfish and the Bottlemen opened the show with a high-energy, straight forward rock set. Catfish were actually supposed to play with Green Day at the tail end of 2016 for Live 105's Not So Silent Night event, but dropped out at the last minute due to an emergency. Green Day fans were finally able to experience the set they didn't get a chance to see. Catfish and the Bottlemen, who are on the road promoting their 2016 release The Ride, play with an incredible amount of energy. It can be hard for this to come across in an arena environment, but the band were successful in their endeavors. It's clear why Green Day selected them as openers; they play alternative rock, but maintain punk sensibilities throughout their playing styles and stage presence.
After a stadium sing-along of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", and a visit from the infamous Bunny character that stumbles around the stage at every Green Day show, our hometown heroes took the stage to a roar of applause before heading straight into "Know Your Enemy" from 2009's 21st Century Breakdown. Armstrong pulls a young woman up on stage to sing the words to the bridge and gives her a hug when she finishes the verse. And if you're one of the lucky fans that is called up on stage by Green Day, there's only one way off: an epic stage dive.
After a number of high energy, operatic rock hits like "Revolution Radio", "Bang Bang" (Revolution Radio), "Holiday, and "Letterbomb" (American Idiot), things slowed down momentarily with a beautiful rendition of American Idiot's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams". Armstrong takes center stage as an acoustic guitar strum backs the emotional words that were once recorded on 2004's American Idiot, one of the band's most successful records to date.
One of the best things about a Green Day show is that they're not afraid to reach back into their catalogue and play songs they wrote when they were much younger. There are some bands that seem to just write off older material, but Green Day have never done this. Fans were seemingly delighted when they surprised with "2000 Light Years Away" from their second album, Kerplunk! A number of tracks from classic albums like Nimrod and Dookie followed ("Longview", "Hitchin' A Ride", "She, "Welcome To Paradise") These are what I consider the "staples" in a Green Day set. More often than not, these songs will always make an appearance, and I will never have a problem with that. And let's not forget the moment when the band kicks in with "Minority", and fireworks explode high above the stadium. There's never a dull moment.
For the nearly two and half hour set, the band never seem to lose momentum, and it's one of the aspects of Green Day that have made me continue to love them to this very day. Even sitting in the back of stadium, you can tell that there is genuinely no other place on this Earth that they would rather be than up on that stage. They never slow down once, and every piece of material is successfully executed. The emotional moments are powerful, and the fun moments are full of energy and smiles. "Are We The Waiting" transitioning into "St. Jimmy" is a perfect example of this kind of stage delivery.
One of the most memorable moments of the evening came when the band performed a cover called "Knowledge" by Operation Ivy, and Armstrong insisted that he "needed a guitar player, right now". After searching through the crowd, a young woman with bright green and blue locks named Maddie was brought on stage by Armstrong, and she proceeded to play the song with the same amount of vigor and intensity that the band did. It was highly impressive, and the band delivered a great surprise when they told her she could keep the Gibson guitar she had just played.
And let's not forget the two encores. To the delight of all fans in attendance, Green Day played "American Idiot" and "Jesus of Suburbia", before Armstrong returned armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar to perform a stripped down version of the incredibly beautiful "21 Guns". And of course, "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" closed the night, followed by a massive display of technicolor fireworks that cascaded brightly against the night sky, illuminating the unique Bay Area town that raised these three powerfully inspiring musicians.
This was a special night not just for the fans, but for Bay Area music in general. A lot of bands don't last. Internal fighting, directional changes, numerous factors all cause bands to go their separate ways. And then there's Green Day, who are thirty years strong, making some of the most important records of our time, and playing arenas and stadiums around the world. A Bay Area Green Day show is, forever and always, a homecoming spectacular, and one that is meant to celebrate the lasting effect of music. You'll never get a dull Green Day show, whether you see them in a tiny club like 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley, or a stadium like O.co Coliseum in Oakland. It's clear that they put absolutely everything they've got into their music. They're a band that is not to be missed, under any circumstances. If you missed this one, you missed the best Bay Area show of the year. Make it a point to see them the next time they come through. You won't regret it. Tell 'em St. Jimmy sent you.