‘Kerplunk’d’ Green Day Play Career-Spanning Show at Webster Hall
A letter to a friend after seeing a show…
You’ve been gone now for twelve-and-a-half-years. Time has heeled some, but the mourning has never faded. When you lose someone so close, you’re never the same. Sure, life goes on but when a person dies, they take a huge piece of the person you once were. I can honestly say every single day since your passing, I say something that reminds me of you or see things that make me think of you. You’re everywhere even though it’s not in the physical realm. It can be a dream, in which I often see you, a meme posted on Facebook that I know you’d post on my wall, a movie I catch flipping channels that we saw together, and/or especially a song that comes on the radio. We went to so many concerts during our high school and college years. It seemed like we had one each week – sometimes two. I mean dude, we saw the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones when we only knew three of their songs!
Anyway, ‘90s alt-rock is the trigger for thoughts of you. We were so obsessed with it back in the day. Pearl Jam. Nirvana. Live. Whoever. Arguably, the biggest band who inspired us were Green Day. The Californians introduced punk to us and made us do some homework on The Ramones and other bands who came before them. The band arrived at a time we were more accustomed to grunge rock and plaid shirts. Sure Nevermind thrusted us into this alt-rock era, but I’d argue Dookie affected us more. The music was honest, different, and the music videos made us essentially worship fun frontman Billie Joe Armstrong. Each morning, when you picked me up to go to school (spoiler alert: I only went to Pace University really, because you were), it was that band playing when I entered your car. It was Dookie, and their two previous efforts Kerplunk! and 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours on repeat. Yeah, I think you played some Celine Dion and White Lion, too but it was fine.
We caught the Dookie tour twice in two months – maybe less – back in 1995. I had already purchased tickets to Z100’s Jingle Ball, which was quite an interesting show at Madison Square Garden, when we decided to see their headlining show at Nassau Coliseum. About the Z100 show, by the way, remember when it went alternative? A mainstream NYC station mixing Top 40 with emerging alt-rock? Unheard of now my friend. But, I’ll never forget hearing Bon Jovi one minute, Jewel the next, and Hole right after. The live show followed that eclectic blue print. Punkers Pansy Division began the night, and Bon Jovi ended it. In-between were Weezer, The Indigo Girls, Hole, Sheryl Crow, and Green Day. Of course, the latter stole the night. Armstrong decided to play the final couple of songs buck naked. The audience consisted of college kids and 14-year-old girls if I recall right. But, I’m jumping. Let’s get back to the first show we saw the band. We paid like $50 for them off a ticket service since the concert was sold out. I remember picking green hairspray with you in preparation for the concert. It was your idea. I loved that. The green out of a can never looks green, but we did it anyway.
I remember my parents dropped us off, and we went into the nearby Marriott bathroom to spray our heads. The smell was terrible. The look worse. You sprayed on way too much, and I remember how awkward it was for us to eat at a nice hotel restaurant before the show with our green heads. We looked like a bunch of freaks but didn’t care. The juxtaposition seems funny now. I think we were probably a bit embarrassed though. But, who cared.
Anyway, after eating green we went on a quest to find beer. We were both 19 at the time, and couldn’t tailgate. Lucky for you, Steve, you found a bunch of kids probably younger than us, and payed them five bucks for two beers. We chugged them, went to the show, bought merch (I still have the shirt by the way), and rocked out.
So, why do I bring up a story you already know?
Well, burying the lead for purposes of this post, I just saw Green Day the other night, and it was a career-spanning show that resonated more than any show I’ve seen over the last five years – at least. Standing by myself with gray not green hairs, this Oct. 8 show at the compact Webster Hall, I was floored by a band tour de force. The small setting that this arena band played at matched with a setlist of over 30 songs embodied everything we loved not only about Green Day but concerts in general. It was packed. People went into the pit, stage dove, and were carried above the crowd by a sea of hands held high. Remember those days? Of course you do. You even moshed at a Human League show, man.
The show made me long for you to be there with me especially went they went into their vault, and performed songs like “Private Ale” off Kerplunk!, “409 in Your Coffee Maker” off Slappy, and cuts off Dookie. They even played “Christine Road,” which as I recall, was one of our favorites. We had bootlegs of live versions, but I’m pretty sure we never saw that cut live.
Nostalgia and longing for you to be on this earth aside, let me fill you in on Green Day. When we listened to them, it was fun personified. We loved that they sang about pot and masturbation. We loved how much fun they all seemed to be having. We kept up with their stuff, but for some reason, we never saw them again live. I think it was just because, we’d seen them before. We dug Nimrod and I personally loved Warning, but we moved on for some reason. You and I would’ve never believed Green Day would reach the heights they have in the years after you left us. They’re Rock and Roll Hall of Famers now with classic albums that have inspired our generation and the ones after us.
Back in the day, the John Lennon of our generation was Bono. But, we were too young to realize the craziness of the world around us, we just wanted to listen to music, have fun, drink and pick up girls. Yet, we knew the importance of Bono, MCA, and Michael Stipe speaking out against the wrongs going on.
American Idiot came out five or six months after you died. It was a revelation – still is. The concept record not only threw George W. Bush under the bus, it evoked an era of the ‘60s and ‘70s where music could actually mean and say something. Oh, and the songs just killed. They’re as timeless as those stupid aerosol cans stores probably still sell. “Jesus of Suburbia” is arguably their best song ever, and probably ushered in the overuse of the word “epic.” The music still resonates. But let me get back to the show. Afterall, writing about it is why I was so fortunate to be there.
At Webster Hall, the band played so many songs off that instant classic record, and when paired with new stuff off Revolution Radio, which was released Oct. 7, it made me realize how far Billie Joe, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool. Billie Joe is now our Bono. He’s our Lennon. He’s our whatever we need him to be. We’re all lost. He gives us a voice. So yes, the band we fell in love with and sang off key to became famous for singing about getting high and self love, but they’ve evolved into the voice of our generation and this generation. Both versions were there Oct. 8. It seemed fitting I saw it solo. I often put my phone down (we live in an age of recording shows and posting selfies – be glad you’re not here for the latter) just so I could watch it all – take the music in, and pretend you were standing next to me – with or without your green hair.
About A-Sides with Jon Chattman – thisisasides.com :
Jon Chattman’s music/entertainment series typically features celebrities and artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometime humorous) way. No bells, no whistles — just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, Jon strives for a refreshing change. Artists featured on the series include Imagine Dragons, Melissa Etheridge, Yoko Ono, Elle King, Joe Perry, Alice Cooper, fun, Bleachers, Charli XCX, Marina and the Diamonds, and Bastille.