Chicago Sun-Times
Tuning in with Thomas Conner

Lollapalooza: Green Day plays on ... and on and on

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green.day.nam.ap.jpg
Billie Joe Armstrong spends much of his time onstage getting the crowd revved up.
(Nam Y. Huh/AP)

BY THOMAS CONNER

Friday night, Lady Gaga enjoyed the surprise addition of fireworks to her show, courtesy of a fortuitously timed barrage from the Bears' family night at Soldier Field directly behind Lollapalooza's main stage in the south end of Hutchinson Field in Chicago's Grant Park. Saturday night, pop-punk trio Green Day brought their own.

In a two-hour-plus set, singer-guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tre Cool filled the stage with good ol' rock 'n' roll stage antics. Here's a band that has actually gone Broadway, creating a stage musical out of their hit concept album, "American Idiot." But instead of loading down their show with scripted theatrics, they relied on the basics -- pyro, fireworks, pulling people on stage and endless exhortations to fans to put their hands in the air.

Note to Green Day fans: Want to get close to Billie Joe? Your chances aren't slim. Study the attention-getting tactics of audience members on game shows such as "The Price Is Right" and "Let's Make a Deal," because that's what a Green Day show has become. Armstrong spends much of the show shopping for fans to bring on stage. Five times, in fact, starting with a student from France, Matthew Sauvetre. He'd been waiting against the barricades all day, and he took the stage during "Know Your Enemy" waving a French flag. After that, Billie Joe pulled a young girl (not older than 10, who he then proceeded to ask, "Keira, do you want to start a f---in' war?!"), an older woman to help him sing "Are We the Waiting," a small crowd of people and, near the end, a young guy to sing the entirety of "Longview."

Classic gimmicks and a program of three-minute rock songs, however, necessitates brevity. Green Day dragged it on and on. Here's to the simple joys of rawk blown up bigger than life, but by the time we crossed the two-hour mark with the same shtick -- pop! roar! OK, my hands would like to lay still for a while -- it was beyond wearying.

Thirty years ago, in the heyday of the Ramones (whose recording of "Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio?" played before the show started), we never could have dreamed that a handful of power chords could propel one band to such heights -- 65 million records sold, four Grammys, a Broadway show, headlining Lollapalooza before tens of thousands (Saturday's crowd was again estimated at 80,000 total). An inevitable loss of edge occurs at those altitudes. A decent catalog of socially conscious material was presented Saturday night mostly as mere fun, then devolved into time-filling quotations of hard rock hits (from Ozzy to GNR) and, yegods, "Hey Jude." What WAS fun was when Billie Joe ripped through the power-chorded nuggets with abandon, like "Nice Guys Finish Last," which he finished with a quick, self-satisfied grin.

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8 Comments

The word 'epic' is too often bandied about by my generation on such trivialities as a tasty hamburger or a fun time out with friends. But the true definition of epic was Green Day's Lolla set. It was one for the ages. Incredible!

Couldn't agree more....they rocked Chicago....Great Time


I agree with Conner: Green Day got tiresome real quick. Nothing against the music or the musicians--both fun. But this is Chicago and we don't get too excited when the lead singer says Shee-ca--goooo! from the stage once, much less, what, a dozen times? Bored with the rawk cliches, I went over the Phoenix. Now that was a show! Real energy, not something manufactured from fireworks.

I thought Green Day rocked; they were a lot of fun. Indeed, they were the most fun I had at Lolla. "Beyond wearying?" dude, you're free to leave. Or perhaps GD is too young a band for you?

If a band can't have a good time on stage, what's the point? I think if a band has fun, the audience has fun. If Lolla isn't about a good time, then please tell me what it is about.

The crowd was too large? If they'd played only Metro, perhaps then you'd champion the story of the crying kids outside who couldn't get in. Anyway, a large crowd is a foregone conclusion at Lolla. It's a cheap and easy criticism.

BTW, Lady Gaga has an even younger demo that GD. I heard her drop the F-bomb very early into her set. Talk about style over substance...

Interesting. You got bored because they went on and on with 3 minute songs? You might want to read further down in your review, when you mention their socially conscious songs(though you seem to think they can't be fun as well)which included several very complex(and lengthy music)from both AI and 20th Century Breakdown. No, they haven't lost their edge despite the heights they've reached. Unfortunately, with the heights, come that peculiar tendency of rock critics to demonstrate their sophistication by jumping on the band wagon of belittling Green Day. I love Phoenix as well, but you don't have to put down Green Day to prove you are up to the more recent popular(deserved) bands. Relax, take a deep breath, and quit worrying about being cool, and enjoy the ride.

I think we are overreacting. Lolla had it for everyone!
But definitely people in Chicago need to be more enthused when it comes to concerts.. came all the way from Guadalajara and I couldn't believe how many times Billy Joe had to ask the crowd to go crazy! They were supposed to be crazy already! Don't need to ask that when you have a crowd with the right attitude...

Nice of Green Day to put the festival promoters in a bad spot by going past the curfew for the show. I know most won't care about the fines that C3 could face for the music going past 10 PM, but stunts like this could affect the permits for future shows. Do you know your enemy?

I heard one of the C3 people was punched out by one of green days security! Anyone else hear that?

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on August 7, 2010 10:29 PM.

Lollapalooza: On the fence [Updated Sun., 3:30 p.m.] was the previous entry in this blog.

Lollapalooza's old guard: Blues Traveler, Social Distortion, Chrissie Hynde is the next entry in this blog.

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