It took nearly three decades of tours through Wisconsin, but Green Day finally took the stage in Green Bay, Wis. on Thursday night. Their stop at the Resch Center, in support of their latest album Revolution Radio, was near capacity with punk outfit Against Me! opening the show.
Billie Joe Armstrong did not waste any time engaging the audience. Opening with “Know Your Enemy,” the frontman stated, “I need a singer,” and plucked a young female fan from the crowd to sing with him on stage. He then coached her into a stage dive from an extension into the standing-room pit. The fan antics escalated during their show, when later, a second person was selected to sing “Longview,” and proceeded to thrust himself from Armstrong’s riser while also taking a running leap from Tre Cool’s drum platform. However, the fan moment of the night occurred late into the set when Armstrong asked for somebody who was capable on guitar. Twelve year-old Henry from Milwaukee made his way to the stage, took a quick three-chord lesson from Armstrong, and assisted on guitar during the Operation Ivy cover of “Knowledge.” Henry looked to be in shock when Armstrong mentioned he got to keep the guitar at the end of the song.
The rest of the show was your typical Green Day performance. More than 25 songs packed into just under two-and-a-half hours, while timed percussion blasts, fireworks and pyrotechnics were masterfully combined with perfectly mixed sound and frenetic energy. Where the rhythm section of Tre Cool and Mike Dirnt offered balance, Armstrong countered with a chaotic stage presence that kept the packed Resch Center on their toes for the duration. Fans were caught in the moment for most of the night, prompting Armstrong to exclaim, “I don’t see any camera phones right now!"
In case the message wasn’t clear in their music, Armstrong went on a short, politically-charged rant during “Holiday” that segued into “Letterbomb,” finishing with the statement, “This is America, we will not be divided.” He later directed “American Idiot” to the current President by simply ending the song with an emphatic “F*** you Donald Trump.” The political musings were brief and Armstrong enjoyed sharing his love of music with the crowd. During a cover medley that included “Shout,” “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” and “Hey Jude,” Armstrong found himself lying on the stage (joined by his bandmates, save Tre Cool) and noted, “Freaks, strangers and weirdos, you’re my kind of people.” He added, “We are going to rebuild, be true and never let your light die.”
The end message was to ignore the hate and lies set forth by politicians and to instead embrace equality and unity. The crowd was a diverse collection that spanned at least six decades and multiple family generations. It was a simple, mutual respect for these Oakland rockers that made a tremendous impression with Dookie in the mid-1990s. Nine albums and a collection of hit singles later, that message is as important as it has ever been.