Green Day


I never go to stadium shows. Except Guns N’ Roses last summer at AT&T Park. And, I rarely go to amphitheater shows. Sure, I saw Blink-182 at Shoreline last September. More often than not, I prefer the intimate, hot n’ sweaty, punk rock clubs.

Last Saturday night, I had the “Time Of [My] Life” at the Coliseum. Billie Joe played that one. That was the final song of the night, the second song of the acoustic encore. It reminded me of the Seinfeld finale.

I met up with a classmate that I had not seen since junior high. We “pre-gamed” – a healthy dose of beers, sandwiches, and old stories – in the parking lot before the show. But, I am a devoted A’s fan, so it was just another home game for me.

They keep hinting that they are going “tear this place down,” “blow it up” and build the A’s a new ballpark, because Oakland is now a “baseball town” by default. The Las Vegas Raiders are too sexy for Oakland, and Dub Nation presumably “left (their) hearts (and their wallets) in San Francisco.” And, in 2017, “Moneyball” is dead. There’s no sequel for you, Brad Pitt! Sonny Gray was the last key piece of the that era, and he was dealt to the Yankees last week, ICYMI.

If you build it, they will come,” right? But where will “it” be? Maybe on the waterfront at “Howard Terminal,” adjacent to Jack London. There is talk about “Peralta,” near Laney College, accessible via Lake Merritt BART.” Meanwhile, the “Coliseum City” design would require significant gentrification efforts at the Hegenberger / 66th Avenue corridor. (Hint: “Coliseum City” might be the best option in terms of logistical infrastructure!)

The Athletics do have a solid core of young talent at the moment (see: Matt Chapman, Khris Davis, and Ryon Healy), but they need a decent venue in order to succeed.

Likewise, “Green Day” would not have been “Green Day” without the aid of 924 Gilman in the late 1980s. See, the “fortunate ones” have access to opportunities and the “smart ones” take advantage of said opportunities. Opportunity breeds success.

But, do the kids comprehend the meaning of “green day?”

“Green day” can be interpreted as (A) a profitable day at work; (B) a day spent smoking marijuana at the expense of pure boredom; or (C) a “successful,” “mainstream,” “pop-punk” band hailing from West Contra Costa County, East Bay, California.

“(C)” formed in 1986, and hit their stride with their major label debut, Dookie (1994 Reprise Records).

(Aside #1: “dookie” is slang for “shit” or “poop.” In 1994, music consumers bought shit.)

IMHO, Green Day hit a sophomoric plateau by the turn of the Millennium. WARNING: (2000 Reprise Records) did not have any pizazz. It was bland. It was time for a hiatus. A string of mediocre compilations ensued, spattered with International Superhits (2001 Reprise Records) and other Shenanigans (2002 Reprise Records). Green Day came back to form in the post – 9/11 era when a handful of American Idiot(s) (2004 Reprise Records) were running the country. And, nothing has really changed. We still live in an idiot country!

(Aside #2: I urge you to disagree. That is the spirit of punk rock.)

See, in college, American Idiot was not my “jam,” per se. I preferred The War on Errorism (2003 Fat Wreck Chords). I was so hip back then. I listened to “underground” punk rock. I did not listen to that major label, manufactured “pop rock” crap.

I had not seen Evan since eighth grade, when nimrod. (1997 Reprise Records) was popular. We played Little League together, but we were never really “friends.” We went to rival high schools, in fact. “In the End,” we shared an affinity for Green Day.

In the ‘80s and ‘90s, alternative rock radio – “Live105” (FM 105.3) here in the Bay Area – was so groundbreaking. Some things never change. The same radio station helped promote the show last Saturday night at the Network Associates Coliseum.

Prior to the show, I posted a Green Day “roll call” on Facebook, because that is what people do in 2017. To many, social media is therapy. It is communication on some level. It allows one to engage with his/her closest friends and re-connect with individuals from one’s past. However, it should not serve as a replacement for real, human interaction.

None of my friends IRL wanted to go. My music industry friends were jealous, and most are scattered all around the country. My “everyday friends” are responsible. They have “real jobs,” girlfriends, maybe wives, some with kids, and a perhaps a mortgage. My “punk friends” are “too punk” for Green Day. And my “work friends” are just that – “work friends.”

I had never seen Green Day, and I am from the East Bay! I knew this show would be so East Bay. There would be a great deal of hometown pride at play. Plus, I had never been to a concert at the Oakland – Alameda County Coliseum. I had to go!

But, how would I get to the show? I live in a neighborhood in Oakland where parking is scarce. Returning late at night is a gamble. How would I get to the show and guarantee a parking spot when I was expected to return after midnight? Uber, of course!

Uber is awesome. In fact, I utilize it too frequently. These days, I only drive to and from work. I have a reverse commute. I am living the dream.

But, Uber is nothing new. The idea is actually very old-fashioned. It is a taxi! Millennials think they are so special, but they are simply hailing a cab by way of a digital platform on their handheld devices. Technically, it is a sexy taxicab. And it is “uber” convenient.

The service, itself, is fantastic, but from an operational standpoint, it is inefficient. The allotted wait time is never accurate. This poses a problem, because the majority of Uber users are Millennials, and these folks take things literally.

After buying refreshments at Lucky’s, my wait time was projected to be “7 minutes.” Then, five minutes elapsed, and my wait time was still “7 minutes.” So, what does that mean? The Uber eventually arrived, after I called my driver, Dawa, to confirm the pickup. He had to pick up “Crystal” beforehand, because I had selected an “Uber Pool.”  “Uber Pool” saves money, enhances the dialogue, but also sacrifices time.

See, I am part of the “Xennial” generation, so I did not interpret my allotted wait time at face value. Still, I would have appreciated a better-estimated arrival time on my end.

It is like “The Chinese Restaurant” Seinfeld episode. The maître d’ keeps reassuring the gang that the wait time for a table will be “5-10 minutes,” but they are never seated. The gang is fed up with the service (or the lack thereof) and eventually leave the establishment. Jerry goes to his uncle’s, Elaine goes to Skyburger, and George goes home after missing an important incoming phone call. The night is ruined.

“Wait times” are relative. They are only estimates. They are a “state of mind.” They are merely expectations. When expectations are met or exceeded, people are happy. When expectations are unfulfilled, people become agitated.

That said, Uber ought to do a better job of framing wait times. As consumers, we are paying for the service, and we have expectations. If these expectations are not met, we go to the competition. Uber is such a basic service, yet this is a major hole.

(Aside #3: Next time at work, when your colleague takes a “10-minute break,” do not take it literally. Interpret it as a “short break.”)

As I jumped in the Uber, I genuinely thanked Dawa for his service and his patience, because it was not his fault. And Crystal was not to blame, either.

She was from Oakland, born and raised. We got to talking about Uber, the underlying service, and the operational shortcomings. We even speculated that “Uber Pool” has the potential to supplant itself as a modern “speed dating” mechanism. It is either that or “swiping right” on your cellular telephone. Take your pick.

I told the duo that I was on my way to see Green Day at the Oakland Coliseum. Turns out that my driver and co-passenger did not know anything about “Green Day.” What?! I had to summarize their whole career – their humble beginnings, their rise to fame, their sophomoric slump, their comeback, and their ultimate status in pop culture – in a 10-minute car ride. All along, I thought Green Day was “mainstream,” like pot and porn.

I “[had] a blast” at the show. They did not play that one, though. Nor did they play any cuts off of Insomniac (1995 Reprise Records). It followed Dookie, but was not as critically acclaimed as the former. It is kind of like Green Day’s Pinkerton. My favorite tracks are “Geek Stink Breath,” “86,” and “Westbound Sign.” But, I digress.

They did play the hits: “Longview,” “Basket Case,” “Welcome To Paradise,” “She,” “Jesus of Suburbia,” “Holiday,” “When I Come Around,” “American Idiot,” and “Minority,” among a plethora of other singles from the days of yore. They also played newer tracks like “Bang Bang,” and “Revolution Radio.” But I appreciate the older stuff. Because I am a Xennial. I grew up on that “shit” from 1994. Dookie was the starter album for modern day punk rockers. American Idiot, while important, is more highly regarded amongst the Millennial subset.

And, the performance itself was superb. They went off on absurd tangents, jamming for minutes on end. They integrated cover songs by The Rolling Stones [“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”], The Beatles (“Hey Jude”), and Operation Ivy (“Knowledge”). They invited “super fans” on stage to perform guitar solos and sing verses.

The production on Saturday night was as much of a protest as it was a concert. I can now see why American Idiot evolved into a Broadway show. Between songs, Billie Joe would literally roll around on stage, citing how “fucked up” things are in America circa 2017. It was punk AF.

I did not recognize the new band members on stage. There were a couple of additional guys on guitar, another on saxophone. In the old days, Green Day was a trio – Billie Joe Armstrong on guitar (and lead vocals), Mike Dirnt on bass (and backup vocals), and Tré Cool on the drums.

The concert was not “sold out,” either. After all, Green Day “sold out” years ago, right? Keep in mind, the Coliseum is a massive venue. It is hard to fill it up entirely. It is an “old-school,” outdated, multipurpose, concrete structure situated in a dilapidated neighborhood. The Coliseum is not “sexy” like Uber, but it serves a good purpose. It will be bittersweet when it goes.

And, Green Day is not my favorite band by any measure. Instead, Green Day was my “gateway band.” Moreover, Green Day is not really a “punk rock” band anymore, but that is okay. Today, Green Day is a legacy act. They play stadiums. They rock hard. They are past their prime, but they are still relevant AF.


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