On the afternoon of Aug. 9, Green Day announced they were doing a first-come, first-served secret show at the 300-person capacity Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa. Yes, we were incredulous. Green Day were selling $20 tickets to the show to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and it seemed like a prank when it was first announced. Except it wasn't.
Due to the overwhelming demand for tickets, the Tiki Bar and the city of Costa Mesa asked Green Day to pre-sell tickets for the event. Good thing, too: Once the news leaked, people flew to the county from places such as England and Sweden to see the band.
Eventually, 250 tickets were made available online the day of the show. They were sold out in seconds—nine hours before the 10 p.m. set time—and fans vented their anger on Facebook. "This was bullshit," Zach Hammill, of Westminster, wrote. "As a longtime SoCal fan, I'm pretty upset. I was on top of that. I was refreshing my page every 0.0001 seconds. As soon as the button appeared, I clicked it, put in the code and still got screwed. I type 74 words per minute."
Weekly web editor Vickie Chang was one of the lucky ones; press didn't get special treatment, but she snagged a ticket from her cousin, who lucked out and bought them online.
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Starting with the never-heard-before "Nuclear Family," it became clear the night was to test brand-new material. Singer Billie Joe Armstrong 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."
For the encore, Billie Joe came back onstage, alone except for his electric guitar, and played the new song "Amy." The band rejoined Billie Joe for a cover of Ozzy Osbourne's "Goodbye to Romance." 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 into the all-too-familiar intro of "Welcome to Paradise." And if the crowd wasn't already stoked enough, there followed "Burnout," "Murder City," "JAR," "Only of You," "Hitchin' a Ride," "St. Jimmy" and "Minority." From Aug. 11 and 12 Heard Mentality blog posts by Vickie Chang and Leo Guaiquirian Rivera.
This column appeared in print as "How Green Day Came to Costa Mesa."