It’s been a long, long time since I went to a concert that featured shreiking girls. I’m thinking when Dedee and I took her little brother to see Adam Ant in about 1983? It’s been almost as long since I went to an arena concert. Actually, there were probably screaming chicks at those big R.E.M. shows.
But Green Day was worth braving the very suburban, very white, very family-oriented crowd at the Gwinnett Arena (yes, really). This was probably the first band I learned from my kids, and I like ’em. Warren has called them “punk,” while I always heard basic rock n roll with extra loud drums. Which, come to think of it, was what punk was, right? I got home this evening and here comes a great debate over this on my Facebook status.
I’m certainly no arbiter of punk, having stuck mostly in my youth with the safety of Athens happy bands. But I’m pretty sure it doesn’t involve light shows that fabulous. Or canon-ing T-shirts into the crowd. Or caring quite so much about engaging your audience — if I had a dollar for every time Billie Joe hollered “Atlanta, Georgia!.”
I love this music for its back-to-basics energy and its well-placed sneers (but not snarls) at American TVculture. But when “punk” becomes this self conscious, it’s pretty pop.
Billie Joe was the ultimate showman. He thanked people for coming out and spending their money to have a good time despite “bullshit crises.” Which I appreciated, since I wasn’t yet sure my lousy $50 seat was worth the rainy drive to Gwinnett County. But the whole production was designed to exceed expectations, from the free parking (just you try to charge me to park in east-Egypt) to the many fabulous sets to the over-the-top pyrotechnics to the length of the show to the free posters afterward. Armstrong kept going and going like the Energizer Bunny who warmed up the crowd with YMCA (uh-huh). At the end of the encore, he came out and did three more songs solo.
I’m glad that in my dotage I have kids to get me out to a big show that’s worth seeing. Otherwise, I’d stick to nice safe places like Variety and Tabernacle. Because I’m just too old and cheap to choose screaming arenas for myself.
Here’s a sampling of screams and sets. From my phone. No cameras allowed.