Green Day: 21st Century American Clash

Green Day

Fox Theater

Oakland, California

April 14, 2009

Green Day: 21st Century American Clash

It is rather generous to refer to Green Day as an American version of the Clash, but they should at least be paying royalties to the surviving members of that seminal punk band. Certainly, they are the closest sounding band in America to the Clash -short of a tribute band. For the casual listener, punk music often begins and ends with the Clash. But with the tragic demise of Clash frontman Joe Strummer in 2002, Green Day have creditably taken over the mantle of punk proselytizer to the world and are currently by far the most popular punk band in the world. They’ve sold over 65 million albums, frequently headline large arenas and amphitheaters, leading some fans to accuse them of the Big Sell Out. I am not so sure. Popularity does not necessarily equate with selling-out. Can a punk band be popular?

Green Day’s new album 21st Century Breakdown is going to be released next month and they have recently been chasing around the San Francisco Bay Area performing guerrilla concerts at tiny venues with little or no advance warning to test out the new songs before live audiences. They performed last week at the Independent and the DNA Lounge in San Francisco and on Tuesday night at the newly refurbished Fox Theater in Oakland.

The band began the night at the Fox by playing the entire new album- none of which has been released or is available on the internet. 21st Century Breakdown is structured as a three act play and a playbill was distributed last night containing all the lyrics. A concept album, nonetheless one from a punk band, normally foreshadows disaster, as Green Day should have learned with previous efforts, but this time I think they pull it off. There were a number of genuinely brilliant songs and the themes of the modern breakdown along with accompanying anxiety, anger, and despair, instead of being dreary and depressive, were cathartic and rebellious in the hands of Green Day.

Of course, since these songs were not familiar, the concert really didn’t take off until the second set when they played many of their older hits, including American Idiot, Jesus of Suburbia, and a phenomenal, soaring Long View. Then, the band showed their chops and rocked the sold-out crowd of 2800 diehard fans who got more than what they came for.

Additional talking points from last night:

1. The show sold-out in seconds and I had to scam a pair of tickets by joining the fan-club at the last minute.

2. The show was videotaped with a large boom camera swooping over the audience and cameramen dodging in and out of the fans. This concert will surely show up in an official Green Day release in the future or in music videos for the new album.

3. Great light show- arena quality in a small theater.

4. Also, it was incredibly loud. The loudest concert I’ve been to in many years. Even though I am an old fart, I can objectively state that it was louder than it had to be. I like a loud band (adds to the excitement), but I don’t think it is necessary to leave a venue in pain, fearing for your hearing.

1 comment:

JMCarling said...

i love a loud concert too - helps you drown out all those thoughts about being an old fart.