I grew up listening to Green Day. Dookie, their breakout album, was the second CD I ever owned, and I’ve more or less memorized every track, plus probably one song off of every album since, which is getting to be a lot. I could fairly be called a fan.
So it came to pass that this morning we woke up at 5 AM, put on our best punk rock* outfits, and skedaddled through Central Park to the line for … Good Morning America?
It turns out that NBC’s milquetoast morning show kills time on summer Fridays with about three songs from a different famous band each week. They could just have them in the studio, but instead they set up a stage in Central Park, and invite anyone sufficiently motivated to show up in person, for free. (Also, they like to use shots of the crowd in the live feed to convey excitement that might otherwise be lost on their heavy-lidded, bagel-focused audience.)
It was … odd. The gates opened at 7, but the show didn’t actually start until 8:30. In the mean time, there was a sound check, which looked like this. We sat on bleachers in the back, rather than stand amid the throng for two hours. This also gave us a great view of the white studio chairs where David Hasselhoff was interviewed by the anchors with hair and teeth from a bleach commercial. They smiled their wide-open laughing smile when the cameras ran, then switched to the steely expression of someone who beat 10,000 other people to get that job.
To fill time, they had a comedian chatting up the crowd, telling them when to cheer, hauling little kids on stage to sing Green Day, etc.. Then at 8:30, it was showtime.
Green Day were clearly pros. They’ve been doing this for 30 years, and still sounded great, although it’s hard to hit those high notes early in the morning, and the vocals were a little low in the mix. Still, it was odd. At a normal concert, the band might say something to the audience between songs. At this show, the band was mute, taking cues from the stage manager.
They sang three three-minute songs in half an hour, and then two more after GMA ended. We got on the subway and went to work.
They didn’t play American Idiot.
So I saw Green Day live, probably from better seats than I’d ever buy at a stadium concert, for free … but I wasn’t really the audience. I was just part of the wallpaper. The audience was in their breakfast nooks and airport lounges, listening to advertisements for white bread and stories about kids these days using their computers too much.
*Adult alternative, if you ask me.