August 11, 2011
I'm not gonna lie: I (shamelessly) tried every route possible to get into last night's ultra intimate, ultra special Green Day show at the Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa. I emailed friends, friends of friends, that gal who once dated that one guy, this manager, that publicist. It was a dead end all around (and lots of "even ____ can't get in!"s).
And then my cousin called: She was 1 of 250 lucky fans who'd managed to secure tickets when they went on sale earlier that afternoon at 1 p.m.--and she had an extra ticket.
The crowd was an eclectic mix, cute nerds in Weezer shirts; women looking like they were ready to hit Sutra in light-up, blinking jewelry; old school Orange County punkers . . . and the omnipresent burly-ass security guard.
I chatted briefly with two gals standing behind me: Denise, 46, and Marlene, 41, of San Francisco. They'd heard about the show on GreenDay.com, and were of the few lucky enough to buy tickets when they'd gone on sale at 1 p.m. that day, hopped on a plane, and arrived at Tiki Bar by 6 p.m. It was their sixth time seeing the band--they later pointed out to me Billie Joe's cousin standing in the corner.
Green Day finally took the stage around 10 p.m. (at least, I think it was 10 p.m.--no mobile phones allowed!). So Tiki Bar's performance/stage area is smaller than even Chain Reaction. And speaking entirely as that fourth-grader whose first CD ever (remember when they cost $13.99-plus?) was Dookie (first tape: "Gin and Juice" single) the mere sight of the band alone was already pretty special. Yep: That was Mike Dirnt, Tre Cool and Billie Joe (along with guitarist Jason White) all right--and looking not much older than they did back when I first saw a press shot of them crammed in a car trunk in 1994.
Bille Joe gave the audience a wide-armed shrug and paused at the microphone: "Hold on, let me get my big-ass Post-Its."
He walked over and produced, yes, a big-ass Post-It note, meant to record the night's set list. (It wasn't too maintained.)
Green Day opened with a new, never-heard-before track, "Nuclear Family." A track with obvious single potential, with the signature pretty punk melodies of just about every Green Day song in existence. (Seriously, it may not be 1994 anymore, the audience may have changed and you may be 45 now, but have you ever heard a Green Day melody you didn't like?)
And the second song on the setlist? "Nuclear Family." But this time with instruction: Dance. With that, it became clear the night was to test out brand-new material on a live audience--not that it seemed like anyone minded anyway.
Billie Joe later declared (most appropriately following a song called "Carpe Diem") after an audience member shouted out a request that the night would be "new shit only."
"To reminisce," he said, "Is to die."
And they stayed true: That entire 90-minute set was full of things never heard before, all meticulously documented by the die-hards on forums and message boards somewhere on the Internet.
A few Orange County-specific references were dropped: a certain song written in Newport Beach, TK Burger.
"Stray Heart" had the driving, Motowny bassline of the Jam's "Town Called Malice." The set list's closer was a cover, the Clash's "Last Gang in Town."
For the encore, Billie Joe came back alone onstage with his electric guitar and did another new one, "Amy" (overheard in the audience: "I wish my name was Amy!"). The band rejoined Billie Joe onstage for an Ozzy cover, "Goodbye to Romance," a real arena singalong, complete with lighters in the air. As Billie Joe crooned the last few lines, "I said goodbye to romance/Goodbye to friends, I tell you/Goodbye to all the past/I guess that we`ll meet/We`ll meet in the end," it really felt like the end of the night. But when the final schmaltzy notes faded away . . . the band surged right into the all too familiar intro of "Welcome to Paradise." And if the crowd wasn't already stoked enough--Green Day, Costa Mesa, Tiki Bar, Billie Joe's water on their clothing--the audience was renewed with those eight familiar, tried-and-trues: "Burnout," "Murder City," "J.A.R.," "Only of You," "Hitchin' a Ride," "St. Jimmy," "Minority."
The Crowd: Lucky.
Overheard: "I'm so sad I don't have my phone to take a photo of this."
Random Notebook Dump: The sudden realization that Billie Joe Armstrong looks like a thin, non-meat mountain-eating version of the Man vs. Food guy.
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Nuclear Family (Played twice!)
Stay The Night
Too Young To Die
Little Boy Named Train
Wow, That's Loud
8th Avenue Serenade
It's Fuck Time (Foxboro Hot Tubs cover)
It's Fuck Time (partial repeat with raunchy audience dancing)
Last Gang In Town (Clash cover)
Goodbye to Romance (Ozzy Osbourne cover)
Welcome To Paradise
Only of You
Hitchin' a Ride