SXSW Review: Green Day at ACL Live at Moody Theater
Iconic punk-rockers Green Day made their SXSW debut Friday (3/15), proving frontman Billie Joe Armstrong can still command a crowd after his very public fall from grace last September.
The Grammy-winning outfit, who earlier in the evening attended the SXSW film premieres of their two documentaries, "Broadway Idiot" and "Cuatro!," filled ACL Live at Moody Theater for the fourth show on their tour behind the "Uno!/Dos!/Tre!" trilogy. The eager audience, all of whom won tickets via a conference-sponsored lottery system, was ready and waiting, having anticipated Green Day's show with a venue-wide rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."
Armstrong, drummer Tre Cool and bassist Mike Dirnt took the stage to Ennio Morricone's "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" theme, along with touring members Jason White (guitar), Jeff Matika (guitar) and Jason Freese (keys, piano, saxophone). From the moment they stepped on stage, Green Day was on, with Armstrong the strong, effortless leader and the crowd his doting music-loving minions.
"99 Revolutions," from December's "Tre!" kicked off the two-hour and 10-minute show, as well as Armstrong's demands. "Get on your fucking feet!," he commanded, and the everyone stood en masse. Call-and-responses dominated the showcase, as well as clapping, arm waving and other requested antics.
Green Day made at least two fans dreams come true at their SXSW showcase, including a young woman during the anthemic "Know Your Enemy," who was snagged from the crowd to sing the chorus before getting a kiss from Armstrong and stage diving back to her spot. During "Longview" from 1994's debut set "Dookie," the energy-charged frontman picked a skinny-jeaned teenager to belt the final verse, allowing him to (attempt to) command the stage as a momentary rock star.
The iconic act didn't just focus on sound, which came across perfectly and energized the audience from start to finish. The stripped down punk of the past meshed beautifully with the more recent work, reflecting Green Day's 26-year hold on the pop-punk scene.
A slew of toys came out during "St. Jimmy" - Armstrong cooled the crowd with a water gun before shooting toilet paper through the air, followed by a handful of t-shirts. The band added a medley of fan favorites to "Disappearing Boy" - "Shout!" led into "Stand By Me" and "Hey Jude," all of which had the audience singing just as loudly as Armstrong.
Before the powerful set ended with the slower encore "Brutal Love," Green Day had accomplished their unspoken goal: to return to the stage post-Armstrong's rehab stint at full tilt. Whether he was launching off the monitors, viciously strumming his guitar or interacting with the audience, Armstrong showed his heart is still in the punk-rock game. Now it's just more focused.
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