Last Night: Green Day, AFI at Superpages.com Center

Green Day, AFI
Superpages.com Center
August 26th, 2010

(Way, way ) better than: reading Marc Spitz's book, Nobody Likes You: Inside the Turbulent Life, Times, and Music of Green Day.

How is it possible to put on a three-hour arena rock show that doesn't lag or feel self-indulgent?

Green Day has somehow found a way, and the band slayed the thousands of folks who showed up to see them at Superpages.com Center last night.

Taking stage shortly after 8, the band fired off a number of songs from their latest record, 21st Century Breakdown, as well as few tracks from American Idiot. Backed by two extra guitarists and a keyboard player, songs like "Know Your Enemy," "East Jesus Nowhere" and "Holiday" sounded as thick and full as they do on record. Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong led the crowd with sing-alongs, chants, and claps as many songs from the first half featured extended instrumental parts. Armstrong let plenty of F-bombs drop as he got the crowd riled up and ready for a memorable show.

After 10 songs from their last two albums, the band proceeded to take a little trip down a deep album cut lane. Paying respect to the attendees who came into the band with Kerplunk and Dookie, songs like "Burnout," "F.O.D" and "2,000 Light Years Away" sounded as good as when they were originally released. Though the crowd's ecstatic cheers waned for a few of these songs, nobody sat down.  

Throughout the whole show, there were plenty of fireworks, flames, dazzling lights, and an impressive video screen display behind the band. Luckily, the spectacles weren't there to cover up for any lack of value coming from the guitars and drums. Plus there were water guns, a toilet paper gun, and a T-shirt dispenser used to shoot at the crowd.

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After "When I Came Around" finished, the band gave the crowd a medley of six songs you still hear on classic rock radio. From "Iron Man" to "Sweet Child o' Mine" to "Stairway to Heaven," the band then kicked into the fabulous one-two punch of "Brain Stew" and "Jaded."

For "Longview," Armstrong hand-picked three members of the audience to sing the song's three verses. None of them had the vocal power to overshadow Armstrong's voice, but that wasn't the point. Even though Green Day is a superstar rock band, they are still a band that wants the common parent, teenager, and jaded college graduate to have a good time.

If there was any point of the show that felt a little too long, it would be during "King for a Day." The band, decked out in costumes (including drummer Tre Cool with a red bra and a Minnie Pearl hat on), morphed the song into an extended rendition of "Shout Part 2." Complete with a saxophone solo and snippets of "Deep in the Heart of Texas," "Peggy Sue," "Free Fallin'," "Break On Through," "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and "Hey Jude," the band seemed to take a breather.

Ending the main set with "21 Guns" and "Minority," Armstrong somehow was able to hold a note for nearly two minutes and got the whole crowd to sing right back to him at the same length.

Coming back shortly after a break, the band's encore featured the mega-suite from American Idiot, "Jesus of Suburbia." Finishing the night with a three-song set featuring Armstrong on acoustic guitar, "Good Riddance" rang out and people walked away incredibly fulfilled.

Openers AFI took stage at seven o'clock and played to an audience that barely filled a quarter of the venue. Once a mighty blend of Bay Area punk with New York hardcore, with a little bit of the Damned and the Misfits thrown in, the band showcased bland stadium shout-rock.

At 10 songs, the only truly memorable portion was when they pulled out "Miss Murder." With a pompadour and a glittery blazer, frontman Davey Havok came out looking like he just got off stage with the touring edition of Rocky Horror Picture Show. AFI has always been a band that seemed to be destined for bigger venues than punk dives. Too bad the music they created when they got to those bigger stages doesn't hold up.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
The last time I saw Green Day live was on the Nimrod tour in 1997. The last time I saw AFI was in 1999 at the Galaxy Club, playing with Hot Water Music and Sick of it All. I can safely say Green Day trumped that show in 1997. I can also safely say that AFI was way more rewarding back in 1999.

By The Way: There were a lot of parents with their kids at this show--as in entire families with elementary-aged to teenage kids. Back when I saw the "Longview" video on MTV in 1994, I never imagined that would happen at a Green Day show 19 years later. Then again, I didn't think Green Day would have been around.

Random Quote: "I wished they would have played 'Warning,'" bemoaned a mother behind me as we all filed out.

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