Entertainment behind the scenes
Green Day … more dad rock than punk rock
Fifteen years ago it was common to see parents standing outside Green Day concerts, likely oblivious to the mosh pits their little horrors were stirring up inside as they patiently waited to drive them home afterwards. These days, plenty of parents can be found inside the venues, excitedly dragging along their possibly embarrassed tykes for what may be their first concert.
And those rabid youngsters who propelled the punk-rock trio to their first brush with massive success? They still form Green Day’s core fan base. But the mosh pits and crowd-surfing are largely a thing of the past. After all, the scratches and bruises might be hard to explain to your workmates at the downtown accounting firm the next day.
Green Day don’t seem to have aged too much since they achieved mainstream fame with their 1994 album “Dookie.” Sure, singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong and bassist Mike Dirnt, both 37, no longer lob gobs of spit into each other’s mouths, and 36-year-old drummer Tre Cool has become quite rotund. But their energy level never flagged during a 2-3/4-hour concert at the Forum in Los Angeles on Tuesday, the final North American stop of their world tour.
“This is a rock ‘n’ roll show, not a f—in’ tea party,” Armstrong exhorted the sold-out crowd at one point. “You listen to Coldplay on your own f—in’ time.”
Green Day, supplemented by three touring musicians, are on the road through 2010 to promote “21st Century Breakdown,” a concept album that topped the charts in the United States and many other countries upon its release in May. The occasionally leaden disc follows a young couple through the minefield of contemporary life, offering up old punk canards about distrusting authority and consumerism.
During the show, Armstrong railed against modern trinkets like computers and cell phones — “We’ve got this moment, right now” — but such tirades likely fell on deaf ears while being immortalized on the hundreds of smartphones and digital cameras that illuminated the arena. His demand for the ouster of Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger received a warmer reception.
Crowd participation is traditionally a big part of the Green Day concert experience. A steady stream of fans were invited onto the stage to sing, play guitar or just dance, and Armstrong ventured deep into the loge seats early on while performing the single “Know Your Enemy.” The set list initially focused on tracks from the new album, and a mid-set string of golden oldies such as “Welcome to Paradise” and “Basket Case” generated a few rudimentary mosh pits. While it was Green Day’s last show on U.S. soil for some time, the band opted not to roll out too many rarities or surprises, disappointing some aficionados. Deep cuts included “Disappearing Boy” from their 1990 indie debut album “39/Smooth,” and “2000 Light Years Away,” from the 1992 follow-up “Kerplunk.” But both have been played throughout the tour. The acoustic “Macy’s Day Parade,” from the under-rated 2000 album “Warning” was a welcome addition, though.
Green Day will take a month off before launching the European leg in Lisbon on Sept. 28. Before then, a musical version of “American Idiot,” the band’s 2006 Grammy-winning smash, will premiere at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in California on Sept. 4, and the threesome will perform at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York on Sept. 13.