Once upon a time, around 2009, in a place not so far called the United Center I attended my first concert. I was familiar with the band, but still had a lot to learn and many songs to hear in their 14 album discography.
Where better to fall in love than at a concert? Not with any one person specifically, but with the music, the experience, the energy of not only the performers but the crowd, my fellow music lovers. I was 11 years old when I first saw Green Day. Although the seats my brother and I were in were the farthest section from the stage, the smell of weed hovered, the phone camera quality sucked in 2009, and the noise of Billie Joe Armstrong singing into the mic overwhelmed me, this first concert laid the foundation for my love of concerts.
At that age I knew, just like I know now at 20, concerts were where I’d always feel most at home, no matter how small or big an arena was, if it was outside in wet grass, mud, or inside with seats and AC. Whether this feeling has to do with the artist performing or actual environment at a concert, I’m not sure.
Fast forward 9 years later: Wrigley Field, my third Green Day concert, and I’m still overwhelmed by the connections, love, and rage. Although it has been 8 years since that first concert, I can always expect a couple of things: a great experience with the crowd, drunk bunny opening the show and Green Day playing something for every fan.
The setlist changes a bit over the years, accommodating their newest released songs and jamming in classics from their most popular albums. Green Day’s setlist was filled with songs ranging from their second album, Kerplunk (1991) to their latest, Revolution Radio (2016). As a hardcore Green Day fan the almost 3 hour show wasn’t enough, songs I loved like Amy from their 2012 album, Dos! still would never make it onto the setlist. However, for their longtime fans they played songs like 2,000 light years away from their second album, Kerplunk. And of course the classics for every Green Day fan: She, Welcome to Paradise, When I come around and Basketcase from Dookie (1994); American Idiot, St. Jimmy, Jesus of Suburbia, Holiday, and Boulevard of Broken Dreams from American Idiot (2004). Some other songs touched on in the 2 and a half hour set were: Hitchin A Ride and King For A Day from Nimrod (1997); Minority from Warning (2000); Mass Hysteria, East Jesus Nowhere and 21 Guns from 21st Century Breakdown (2009). They also played songs from their newest album Revolution Radio (2016): Still Breathing and Forever Now were some of my favorites. Everyone in the stadium held up their phone flashlights as songs like 21 guns played, the sight was enough for even the security crews to stop, stare and smile.
In Green Day’s four part documentary, Green Day: The Early Years (2017), “The separation between audience and the band, we weren’t used to that in our scene” Drummer Tre Cool says in response to how it felt playing Woodstock and Lollapalooza in 1994. “They were so far away, I felt like we weren’t connecting in some way,” Billie Joe adds. 23 years later, these same guys that were nervous playing a festival, are now playing stadiums as if it were a small club.
Green Day has been playing stadiums since the American Idiot era, but never Wrigley Field. This also wasn’t their first time playing a sports field, at the beginning of August they played the Oakland Coliseum, home of the Oakland Athletics.
“I never wanted to turn my back on the intimacy that you get from a crowd, I love playing arenas and I love playing stadiums, that shit is amazing but to this day we will always play venues where we can get as close as we can to the audience.” – Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day: The Early Years (2017).
Even when playing a stadium like Wrigley Field, Green Day managed to interact with the audience every chance they got: bringing someone on stage to stage dive, handing the mic to someone in the crowd to sing, having EVERYONE sing along to “Hey Jude” by the Beatles, and “Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones.
They also kept up with their little tradition of having one lucky fan play the guitar onstage. During the cover of “Knowledge” originally by Operation Ivy, Green Day pulls one lucky audience member on stage, “who knows how to play 3 chords?” Billie Joe asks, the lucky fan then plays the three chorded song on a guitar handed to them, at the end of the song Billie Joe points and says, “you get to keep that guitar.” The first time Green Day ever brought someone on stage to play with them was during the Insomniac Tour (4th album, 1995).
In Green Day Wrigley Field Press Conference In The Sound Lounge when asked if they ever thought they’d be playing Wrigley Field, Billie Joe joked he thought it’d be more likely to be playing shortstop than performing. The band also reminisced about how many cities they had to play in Illinois before being able to play Chicago, “because we had to play so many other cities before playing Chicago, it’s very near and dear to our hearts,” says Billie Joe.
After about 2 and 1/2 hours of an amazing Green Day show, it ended even better than it started, the beginning middle and end was nothing short of amazing. Ending with a small firework show that had everyone in Wrigley Field in awe, the red and white Confetti stamped with “Green Day” soon followed.