“Who’s playing upstairs? The Naked and Famous? Who the fuck are they?”. These were the words out of Billie Joe Armstrong’s mouth in between songs as a dance beat vibrated the ceiling right about his head. Regardless of the fact that The Naked and Famous had ended their set over an hour prior to this statement, it drew cheers from the faithful crowd of 350+ crammed into the absolutely tiny Studio at Webster Hall to witness Green Day’s Halloween show. The fact that a band with one album was playing the four times larger main floor of Webster Hall should give you a good hint at how intimate this show was. The show was announced around 10am the day before, and tickets were put on sale at noon, meaning many people didn’t even know about this show until well after it was sold out. Take into consideration the fact that tickets sold out in mere seconds, and even those who did know about the show were lucky to grab a pair of tickets to arguably the most in demand show this year.
When the band took the stage at 11:45 (after a brief opening spot by a band whose name sounded like No-No Spot), it was obvious they weren’t kidding about it being a Halloween celebration. Armstrong looked like a cross between Beetlejuice and Jack Skellington, drummer Tre Cool was dressed as a fairy (tutu and wings included), and bassist Mike Dirnt came out as a bloody zombie. The band started the night off slowly with a mellow version of “The Monster Mash” which had some lyrics of “Basket Case” thrown in for good measure, but after that, they were firing on all cylinders for the rest of the night. With a yell of “Happy Halloween motherfuckers, now let’s get fucking crazy!”, the band ripped into a plethora of new songs. “Let Yourself Go” was an absolutely outstanding track, and one of the highlights of the entire main set. It also seemed to most notably show that perhaps, this next album won’t be the politically charged music that we’re all now so used to from Green Day. Lines such as “shut your mouth because you’re talking too much and I don’t give a fuck anyway” prove that although the band has matured, they can still have fun and more importantly, write songs that don’t deal with heavy concepts. “Carpe Diem” is a pounding tune, one with an easily singable chorus and seems like it will definitely be on of the songs to make it onto the album.
“Stay The Night” was another new track that would be criminal to overlook when the time comes to choose tracks for the next album. Curse words aside, it seems destined to become a single, as well as a giant arena anthem on the next tour. At some point during the set, the band played a frantic and chaotic cover of The Misfits’ “Hybrid Moments”, that worked well in such a small and enthusiastic crowd. Armstrong would go on to ask the crowd later on if they wanted to hear “The Misfits song again”, and then even later on said “Fuck it, let’s play The Misfits song again”. Dirnt playfully reminded Armstrong that this was the third time they were playing it, but that it was such a short song that it hardly even counted. However, it was obvious that no matter how much the crowd was enjoying the newer material and covers, they were craving older cuts and it would seem they would get their wish when Armstrong mentioned how people cling to the older material like “a sacred cow” and promised to play an older song. The older song however, was not even technically one of Green Day’s songs, but rather “Stop, Drop and Roll” by The Foxboro Hot Tubs (Green Day’s not-so-secret side project). The hardcore fans in the crowd loved it, finally getting the chance to scream every word along with the band, instead of trying to learn a chorus of a new song as the band played it.
Later on, a snippet of “Blue Moon of Kentucky” by Elvis was played though it seemed rather lost of the younger crowd. “Makeout Party” was introduced as a song about, well, sex. This song was the perfect example of Green Day just having fun without relying on politics to fuel their music and though a chorus of “It’s a make out party to another dimension” might not make sense on paper, that doesn’t stop it from being a great song. One of the more humanizing moments of the night was when Armstrong noticed someone dressed as Robert Pattinson (it was a Halloween party after all) and jokingly told him “I’m sorry you just didn’t make the cut” of the American Idiot movie, both acknowledging and proving the rumors false that he was picked to star in it. The biggest reaction that the main set got came in the form of another Foxboro Hot Tubs number, “It’s Fuck Time”. The crowd exploded, fists were in the air, and it seemed that everyone knew all the words to a song that hasn’t technically been released. The main set quickly ended, though not a single person moved, all eagerly awaiting an encore.
The band returned to the stage quickly to play “Murder City” off their latest studio album “21st Century Breakdown”. When a crowdsurfer crashed into Armstrong’s mic and knocked it over, preventing him from singing the second verse, the crowd happily took over the vocals for him as the band continued through the song. Green Day continued with material that progressively went further into their back catalog including “Letterbomb”, “Hitchin’ A Ride”, “Geek Stink Breath”, “She”, “Welcome To Paradise”, and “2000 Light Years Away”. With each song, the crowd got rowdier and rowdier, eventually culminating in as big of a mosh as you can fit in such a tiny basement. The last ‘official’ song they would play was “Paper Lanterns”, though the band welcomed back two female vocalist from the beginning of their set and closed the show with the only way they could – by playing “The Monster Mash” of course.
“Hitchin’ A Ride”
Say what you want about Green Day and argue all you want about whether or not they’re “punk”, but two things remain. The first is that the band never fails to deliver live. They played a two hour set filled with tons of unreleased tracks and deep cuts from nearly their entire back catalog, something that some bands don’t manage to do in an arena, let alone a club. The second is that these guys genuinely care about their fans. They played this two hour set, in a venue that holds a crowd that is a tiny fraction of what they normally play to, and they did it all for $20. They didn’t do this show to make money. They did this show to test out the new material to see what the crowd enjoyed, and more importantly, they did it for the fans. And that’s what really counts.
Photo courtesy of @GreenDayMind