Green Day (photo: SarahJayn Kemp)
The final night of Live 105’s Not So Silent Night was a packed event with supporting acts Day Wave, K. Flay, Phantogram, The Head and the Heart, and Bastille priming the audience for headlining band, Green Day.
Though all opening bands played enthusiastic sets in which they managed to sound just as good as their albums, local boys Day Wave were the only real reminder as to why live music is everything. They didn’t sound like a recording — they sounded alive. Moody and melodramatic, their sound hearkens back to an era before autotune and family-band mumblecore lobotomized pop music. Catchy, popping tunes with bright-sounding guitars played by handsome, well-dressed young men was a delicious contrast to their dark underbelly of cerebral lyrics and swampy low end. Their original music was strong, but their cover of New Order’s “Ceremony” was the shining moment of their set. More than spot-on, it was downright moving. Many bands can copy the dwindling guitar sound and the steady low end, but few, if any, can replicate the soul of early ’80s New Order. It is a haunting, captivating chill that warms from within. Given the fact that post-Hook New Order is simply a tragedy for the ears, hearing Day Waves’ “Ceremony” was like discovering an old friend you believed passed years ago had just moved next door.
Continuing with the theme of local boys making good, Green Day row through a sonic feast. Punching into their set with “American Idiot,” guitarists Billie Joe Armstrong and Jason White (Pinhead Gunpowder, The Big Cats, and formerly Fluke Fanzine), turned it way, way up. Though Armstrong is the face and soul of Green Day’s guitar sound, White is its muscle on stage. A supporting member of the band for decades, White’s contribution makes Green Day a frenetic force of nerve-shaking vibration. Thunderous while still maintaining a sharpness, “American Idiot”’s an anti-anthem for the ages.
Every Green Day show comes with some standard-issue hokey shenanigans: The “drunk” pink bunny that warms up the crowd, the pulling up of a fan onto the stage to play along to a song or two, and the quips of front man, Billie Joe. What makes it so great is, even though all the fans are expecting these components to the show, they never seem stale. When Armstrong pulled a young Danny Bonaduce-lookalike out of the crowd to finish up “Longview” with him, the masses sang along and cheered for him. Where else does that happen in these modern times? No eyes were rolled, no criticisms cast, not even a sarcastic sneer. After “Longview,” the young guest guitarist stayed for on more song, the eulogistic” J.A.R.” People were pulling for this kid as he strummed the polka-dotted guitar that Armstrong, predictably yet joyously, let him keep. It’s a sharp contrast to the cynical, critical world in which we’re usually entangled. As I looked around, I didn’t see a single person on their cell phone. We were all engaged, tuned in, and open enough to enjoy the moment for what it was — a celebration.
Though the set was only fourteen songs, it represented eight different albums. Singles from Revolution Radio, their latest album, were interlaced between different eras of Green Day. Though the language of Green Day has always been the same, there was definite code-switching between albums that produced a slightly different dialect, so there is a definite progression to their catalog. Influences converge and collide to produce beautiful disasters like two of the highlights of the evening — the Old-French, circus-reminiscent “Hitchin’ a Ride” and dad-rock lullaby “Brain Stew.” While other bands either ditch their personas every year or so to build a new identity and “reinvent” themselves or grow stale resting on their ever-rotting laurels, Green Day keeps growing – digging their roots in deeper and branching out even more.
They ended the night with a floor-rattling rendition of “Minority” — a fitting closer, because there is no other band on earth that has the sustainability, sound, and sonic science of Green Day. It was a fantastic, hopeful night that no one else could have pulled off in the same way.