Saturday, November 27, 2004


A New Challenger (Green Day)

So I thought I would take notes this time in the little Burn Book notepad that came with my copy of Mean Girls. This shall be my concert notepad for the foreseeable future.

I felt like I left a little late for this concert. I gave myself a little less than three hours. Concert starts at seven, and I got there shortly after six. Maybe I should say I got to the vicinity shortly after six. You see, this particular venue has notorious parking problems. Or rather, it’s located within a city with major parking problems.

Amazingly enough, I managed to memorize the last four points in the driving directions and got right there. Unfortunately, I was so busy congratulating myself that I ended up driving right by a very close lot. And then, due to unusual turn restrictions, it took me another fifteen minutes or so to circle back to it. Probably the cheapest parking I’ve ever had in this city. Well lit. Open late. And once I got past the annoying pedestrians (who are probably the same jerks who block me and go slow in traffic), it was maybe a three minute walk from the show.

I didn’t even have to wait in line this time. The doors were open and lines were moving. Naturally I picked one of the doors with a female frisker. You may recall my complaints about women in service industries and wonder why I would make that choice. Or you may recall my complaints about my love life and think her door was the only one I could possibly choose. And you’d both be wrong. That is, if two people even read this. Actually, her line was fastest, and her frisking was very professional.

Way more kids with mom and dad than at the Prince concert, that’s for sure. I hope they’re all going to grandma’s for turkey, or mom will have a long Thanksgiving ahead of her tomorrow. But once in the venue itself, some of them took the easy way out.

You see, in this particular venue, for this particular show, there are no floor seats. It was general admission, and a quick peek at the floor showed lots of people sitting on it. One mom and dad at the t-shirt stand was overheard to say “We’ll meet you here at this t-shirt stand after the show. Not outside, right here.” and three 13 year old boys were off to have fun. Like me, mom and dad will be upstairs in actual seats.

The seats upstairs came in two levels, normal and super steep alpine, where I ended up. I mean, sitting in my chair with my feet on the floor, my feet were level with the shoulders of the girl in the seat in front of me. Who happens to be one of three girls with mom. Pretty steep.

Here’s a mom who might be a fan. The boy with her looks about eight years old. Oh wait, she’s waving down to the floor, and now I see dad and an older boy down there waving back up to her. Dad is waving mom down there, and she’s waving dad up here. Looks like they’re going to meet in the middle. A few minutes later, here comes mom with older boy, maybe twelve, but dad is nowhere in sight. Back to the floor for him I guess. Maybe he’s the fan in the family.

Holy crap. I have to say this place must be at least two-thirds under the age of 16, but I still see an old guy with a ponytail. By the end of the night, I would be relieved to find that he was the only one I saw.

Really no ads here, but they did make interesting use of two big projection screens while the bands were setting up. It was run by Verizon, and I had never seen this before. They put up a number on there to send text messages, and you could call it and send a message and the message would show up on screen. You say they probably censor all the good messages, and maybe you’d be right, but “Mmmmm, heroin” and “I like poo” both managed to slip through. During the first two acts, I got to watch the two girls next to me text message their friend back and forth about where they would meet before Green Day started playing. Hope they found their friend.

Ok the lights start to dim and everyone sitting on the floor below stands and move closer to the stage. The number of people down there probably tripled. Watching the movement down there was very interesting. Those guys that study bird flock flying formations ought to study this sort of stuff. Sugarcult started the show promptly and played for about twenty-five minutes. They were good. They were the first opening act since Bad Religion opened for Pearl Jam that made me want to buy their CD even though I didn’t know any of their songs going in. New Found Glory played next, for maybe forty-five minutes. Almost twice as much time to win me over and they couldn’t pull it off. Not quite as impressive. These two should have been reversed on the bill. But maybe it was planned that way to let the audience cool down before Green Day came on. After seeing Green Day perform, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

But before I get to that, what’s with all the F words from the first two bands? I mean, it was almost like “How much fuck would a fuck fuck fuck, if a fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck?” Blair Witch syndrome or something. By the way, that movie has not held up. Ask me later. Didn’t any of these guys see South Park episode 502?

I mentioned most of the parents are up here with me. I just got to hear two dads discussing the declining quality of mosh pits nowadays.

I was also entertained by the curse of the pole. Up in the seats here, there are supporting columns that can block your view. I’m in the perfect spot and the column blocks my view just to the right of the stage, which I can see fine. But there are a bunch of seats across the aisle from me that feel the full effect of the curse. It blocks a three seat range up several rows. You know I enjoyed watching people straggle up from below, thinking they found these great open seats, and sitting without checking the view. As soon as their butts hit the seats, they jumped up again like there were electrodes in there and moved on to somewhere else. It wasn’t quite as funny when I first got here and did the same thing.

God was on such a winning streak when he made bosoms. Amen.

Ok New Found Glory has finished and we’re getting close to Green Day. We’ve got a guy in a pink bunny suit dancing around on the stage getting the crowd warmed up again. YMCA is playing and he’s doing the dance and everything. I should say I don’t know if they do this in every city, or if it was just an ironic choice for San Francisco. The great thing was that most of the people on the floor knew the hand gestures too. Of course, so did mom in the row in front of me. Thankfully, the three girls got her to stop. The next song on the warmup track had pink bunny leading the crowd, everyone pumping their fists to Blitzkreig Bop. I felt better about the future of this nation when I noticed that these kids who weren’t even born when this song came out could still sing it louder than the PA could play it. The loudness of this audience was just a sign of more to come.

As soon as the last of the “Hey, Ho, Let’s Go!” was shouted by the audience, the lights went out and the monkey song from 2001 began. Don’t tell Incredibly Insightful Robert that I couldn’t remember the name of it. You know the one I mean, where the monkey first realizes that that long thigh bone can smash stuff good. Seeing them walk out, timed to the music, with spotlights and all, it was pretty impressive. Goose bumps. Just another example of excellent stagecraft. I don’t know if these guys just have a good tour manager or if they’re really genuis showmen. And as soon as the last note of monkey song hit, they blasted right into American Idiot. The place went totally nuts! Go buy the album so you can see why they spent about thirty minutes on songs from it, rather than just playing one or two singles.

This audience made me think of the Beatles, and how the screaming of the audience drowned out the band. These kids were loud. I’m not talking about when a band stops and lets the audience sing a line or two from the chorus. These kids were often singing over the lead singer even when the band was in full swing. They brought up a girl from the audience to shoot the crowd with a super soaker. Later, they asked for a drummer, guitarist, and bass player. They brought them up, taught them a couple of chords, and played a short song. Kind of like in that movie School of Rock when Jack Black first organized the kids into a band. The guy on guitar even got to keep it. They got the girl on bass to take a stage dive. I don’t know what happened to the drummer. Oh and here comes dad from the floor three hours later to join mom and the two boys.

Green Day started at nine, encore at 10:20, left the stage at 10:40. A great show. So how does it stack up? Well, Prince had a certain quality. A very tight band, extremely proficient, and excellent at what they do. Green Day plays a different sort of music, and while they say quality trumps quantity, they also say that quantity has a quality all it’s own. Prince trumped Bad Religion/Pearl Jam, but Green Day trumped Prince. It also reminded me of The Who stealing the show on this DVD here. I would definitely see them again, and I think 9,000 other people at the concert feel the same.

Update: Incredibly Insightful Robert even put up a tip that led me to the real title of the monkey song from 2001. Some info about the song, by Mr. Strauss, can be found here. You go look now!

Update II: Sorry for the delay. I spent about nine hours awake on Friday and fifteen hours catching up on sleep. Sleep is good. Thanksgiving details to come.
i am SOOOOOOOOOOOOO jealous!
Yes I definitely urge you to see them next time around. Put all your loose change in a jar til the next tour and you'll be able to afford killer seats. Or killer mosh, if that's your preference.
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