with Catfish and the Bottlemen
Coral Sky Ampitheatre; West Palm Beach, FL • September 3, 2017
by Jen Cray
It’s 2:30 in the morning and there’s a 6 ft. gator charging at our car as we speed down a swampy highway that’s about to be buired in a real maleficent horror movie fog. It’s the second gator we’ve seen and it’s not even the last of the weird shit we’re going to see on our long drive home from West Palm Beach. We’re tired, our hearts are now racing, and we can’t see 2 feet in front of the car — and it’s all kind of awesome.
If we hadn’t loved Green Day enough to road trip 3 hours to WPB to see them, this never would’ve happened and we wouldn’t have a crazy story to tell. Also, my girlfriend wouldn’t have a fun new nickname (aligator dodger)! It’s the kind of surreal, late night tale that doesnt’ happen too often the farther away from your twenties that you get.
…until an old high school favorite comes around and inspires all sorts of questionable decisions and an adventure ensues. Ironically, Green Day themselves have evolved out of their spastic, naked onstage, mass mudfight ways and have become a respectable, high tier mainstream band. The kind of band that call sell so many tickets to their ampitheater show that the usually spacious lawn section no longer reveals even a glimpse of green. A band that can choose Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” as their intro music and then successfully follow it up with an epic 2 hour show complete with pyrotechnics and fans brought up onto the stage to sing, or even play guitar, with the band.
Throughout, the unexpected ringmaster power of frontman Billie Joe Armstrong shines through as he skates the line between being polically charged enough to satisfy those hopped up on the heat generated by the American Idiot album without being so finger-pointedly blunt that he turns off the mainstream radio fans who came more for the pop punk and less for the politics. It was a delicate balance that he handled masterfully — with only a subtle jab about nearby Mar-a-Lago alluding to the source of the newfound fire in songs like “Holiday,””Hitchin’ a Ride” and, certainly, “American Idiot.”
Though the tour is to support their latest record Revolution Radio, the marjority of the set celebrated songs with birthdates from a decade or more ago. Old school fans reveled in the glory of “Longview,” “When I Come Around,” and “Basket Case” proving that a good song is a like a time capsule that can transport you back to who you were when first you heard it. Who needs a Delorean when you’ve got Mike Dirnt’s bass lines?
Opening the night was the UK’s answer to The Killers, Catfish and the Bottlemen. Their set was criminally short, but in just 30 minutes the band jumped to the head of the line on their journey to being the Next Big Thing — most especially thanks to the total abandon performance of frontman Van McCann. They might have stolen the show from any lesser headliner.
As it was, Green Day reigned. A scrappy little punk band, made famous by a song about masturbation and slackerdom, has become one of the biggest bands in the world. Welcome to Paradise.