With Against Me!
American Airlines Center, Dallas
Saturday, March 4, 2017
Billie Joe Armstrong didn't waste much time getting the crowd involved on Green Day's visit to American Airlines Center on Saturday night. During the very first song of the nearly 30-song set, "Know Your Enemy," Armstrong brought a teenaged fan up onto stage to help sing the words, then told the youngster that there was only way to back down from the stage: stage diving.
It was but one of several occasions throughout the night that Armstrong brought fans up on stage during his band's marathon two-and-a-half-hour performance, and in each case the chosen fans made the most of the experience. One man was brought up during "Longview" when Armstrong "forgot" the lyrics to the song and proceeded to put his arm around as many of the band members as he could manage.
Then, in the most endearing moment of the night, a young girl named Jillian (who said she's played guitar for five years, which looked to be about half her life) got the chance to play Armstrong's guitar during a cover of Operation Ivy's "Knowledge." After a long hug from the singer, she was given the guitar to keep, which was met with huge applause.
Now more than 30 years into their career, Green Day's visit to Dallas felt very much like a victory lap, but more as a matter of showing earnest appreciation to their fans than merely coasting into middle age. They have plenty to be appreciative of, too: Their mainstream breakthrough with Dookie came at the perfect time, stepping into the gap left behind by Kurt Cobain's death right as punk was becoming a commercially viable entity. The band, then a trio but touring now as a six-piece, were able to cash in before the major label revenue stream dried up.
That Green Day was never going to be the next Nirvana has been a bit of a curse ever since (remember how many times they were accused of being sellouts?), which at this distance seems a little ridiculous. At heart, Armstrong and his band were always a bunch of goofball punks — neurotic to the bone, yes, but not out to change the world. Perhaps the weight of those expectations helped lead to the American Idiots of their later years, which always felt a little too grandiose for a band who thrived on keeping things simple.
Still, while the band (and in particular Armstrong, who struggled for years with substance abuse) seems mostly at peace with itself these days, Armstrong had a lot on his mind Saturday night, breaking off frequently to speak about the need for unity and inclusiveness amidst today's political turmoil. "There's so much chaos, anger and hatred that you can see in the cellphone in your pocket," he said at one point early in the show. "We may come from different backgrounds, but we're all fucked up, and this is our opportunity to be fucked up together."
But Armstrong's actions were more conducive to fostering a sense of unity than his words, which felt comparatively sophomoric alongside the genuinely warm gestures to his fans. (Inevitably he dropped a "Fuck Donald Trump," which had been strongly implied all night.) Even at the age of 45, his ping-ponging energy was infectious, as he scrambled around stage like a preteen on an all-night sugar high at a slumber party.
Sometimes that energy turned to pure camp, and never more so than during the medley of "Shout," "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and "Hey Jude." Dressed in costumes that looked to be straight out of the Village People's closet, the band added a saxophonist and went straight ska, with everyone winding up laying down on the stage (and Armstrong actually humping it).
It was silly, but all in good fun — and that was the point. All these years into their career, Green Day are walking proof that young punks don't have to grow up, and that sometimes the kids can be the heroes.
Know Your Enemy
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Hitchin' a Ride
When I Come Around
2000 Light Years Away
Do You Wanna Dance?
Are We the Waiting
King for a Day
Shout/Always Look on the Bright Side of Life/(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction/Hey Jude
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