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Green Day rocks Chicago

Michele Jeffers | Wednesday, November 10, 2004

On Monday, Chicago bore witness as thousands of angst-filled teenagers emerged from middle-class suburbia fully clad in their mismatched clothing and metal jewelry to unite together in defiance of all oppression and authority. That’s right. These rogues stood tall against the law and proclaimed their inalienable right to go out on a school night. A magnanimous few even allowed their driver’s license and credit card toting parents to tag along – as long as they didn’t stand too close, of course. Defiance of authority was indeed the name of the game Monday night as Green Day performed with Sugar Cult and New Found Glory at the UIC pavilion. With the release of its successful concept album, “American Idiot,” Green Day has taken its political views on the road on a tour sponsored by Verizon Wireless and MTV2. Attempting to amuse the crowd before the show, Verizon set up large screens that the audience could send text messages and pictures from their cell phones. After witnessing a fair share of messages proclaiming “I LUV BILLY 4EVA” and “I want to make out with a high school girl,” Sugar Cult opened the show. It gave an enthusiastic performance in which the lead singer’s gymnastic abilities would put many a cheerleader to shame. The set was relatively short, but included radio hits like “Stuck in America,” “Pretty Girl” and “Memory.”Next up was New Found Glory, MTV’s favorite pop-punk band from Coral Springs, Fla. New Found Glory mostly played songs from its latest album, “Catalyst,” including its single “All Downhill from Here.” Other songs included “My friends over you,” “Understatement” and “Head On Collision.” Disappointingly, the only older song played was “Hit or Miss.” New Found Glory played a decent set, but its stale on-stage banter left much to be desired. After being introduced by a beer chugging rabbit, Green Day took the stage with “American Idiot” – a song that lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong feels even more passionately about since last week’s election. Banners featuring hand grenades hung from the stage as a symbol of fascism, while the audience raised its arms in unison in support as Armstrong derided the masses blind allegiance to propaganda in the media. Green Day played the first half of “American Idiot” in the order of the album. During “Holiday,” the album’s most pointed attack against the Bush administration, Armstrong urged the audience not to be afraid to “dream and differ from the hollow lies.” The band’s goal is to show the youth of America that they have a responsibility to stand up for their ideals even when pressured by authority.The new regime fell to the old as bass player Mike Dirnt played the familiar bass line of “Longview” from its 1994 hit album, “Dookie.” Next, Green Day performed an extended version of the incredibly infectious “Hitchin’ a Ride.” Much to the chagrin of chaperoning parents, Armstrong’s bellows gave way to an ecstatic onstage simulation of masturbation. The rest of the set included songs like “Basket Case,” “She,” “Brain Stew” and “When September Ends” – a new ballad dedicated to the memory of Armstrong’s father. The band also performed lively cover of “Shout,” in which a trumpet playing bumble bee came on stage while Armstrong regally cavorted in a crown and cape.Beyond entertaining the audience as a guitar-clad Puck, Armstrong pulled out all the stops to get the crowd involved. Green Day kept up its concert tradition by allowing three audience members to come on stage, take over on guitar, bass and drums and have the chance to feel like rock gods for a few moments.Green Day’s encore included on-stage explosions and falling confetti as the band went out with a pounding cover of Queen’s “We are the Champions.” Holding the last chord, Armstrong remained on the stage alone and ended the show with their popular ballad “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).”Overall, Green Day put on an amazing performance with a well-balanced mix of songs from its new album and older crowd favorites. It was a little bit of a let down to see that Green Day was using the same improv pieces in the show it used three years ago, but it was still just as fun the second time around.