Gunk up your hair and throw on your chucks because Green Day are back. After a minor setback, Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tré Cool are hitting the road for the first tour in support of their forthcoming album, Revolution Radio.
Considering their first leg finds them swinging through more intimate locales — you know, like New York’s Webster Hall over the city’s colossal Madison Square Garden — it’s very likely they’ll be tailoring their sets to such comfy confines.
It wouldn’t be the first time. For years, the Oakland rockers have surprised their fans with smaller pop-up shows, and that’s when they’ve traditionally reworked their setlists to include the rarer stuff from their oeuvre.
Who knows if they’ll do the same this go-around, but that hardly stopped me from tossing in my two cents. Hell, I even went the extra mile and recommended which staples they could shake up with these additions.
You’re welcome, guys.
“I Was There”
Shake Up With: “Going to Pasalacqua”
Don’t get me wrong. “Going to Pasalacqua” is one of my favorite songs by Green Day. It’s just that the 39 “hit” has floated around their setlists over the past five years, almost as if to say, “Hey, we remember our early days.” Well, prove it, guys. “I Was There” would be a more than sufficient stand-in every other night, and it would be nice to hear how it sounds with Tré Cool. Lyrically, there are few songs more prescient for the aging punk rockers: “Looking back upon my life/ And the places that I’ve been/ Pictures, faces, girls I’ve loved/ I try to remember when.”
Last Played: Okay, so they did revisit the track in Cleveland last year with original drummer John Kiffmeyer, but that was a one-off appearance, the same way it was a one-off appearance back in 2010 in Costa Rica. Outside of those two performances, it hasn’t been a staple since the ’90s.
Shake Up With: “Christie Road”
Would anyone besides the casual Green Day fans really complain if they double-dipped into 39/Smooth? Hardly. Not that Green Day are in short supply of slow burners or ballads these days, but damn would it be sweet to hear this chugging chunk of distortion. It’s admittedly a pretty sloppy song, and a far cry from their more polished blockbuster days, but Armstrong’s gone a long way as a singer, and he would no doubt elevate the melodies within this one. Try and picture him singing “Angel … Angel!” and not get chills. Add that to the two-guitar charge of Armstrong and fourth member Jason White, and you’ve got yourself a little moment. One that should fulfill the duties of their wonderful and nostalgic walk down “Christie Road”.
Last Played: Apparently, they haven’t nuked this sucker since Poland 1991. Wow.
Shake Up With: “Paper Lanterns”
It’s hard to pick any one song off Kerplunk, especially since the band already tends to play the two best tracks off the album: the aforementioned “Christie Road” and the other left hook, “Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?” Still, it wouldn’t hurt to add a third staple to the mix. Granted, they’ve plucked “80” half a dozen times over the last decade, but a great song like “Android” just sits around untouched. Some might call out a few lines as being “problematic” (“Hey old man in woman’s shoes/ I wonder if he knows I think he’s crazy”), but they’d be missing the whole point of Armstrong’s sobering existential crisis (“Or will I grow that old?/ Will I still be around?/ The way I carry on I’ll end up”). Considering everything he’s been through over the last few years, Armstrong may have reason to revisit “Android”.
Last Played: Another untouched oldie that hasn’t seen the stage since Spain 1991.
Shake Up With: “Welcome to Paradise”
When it comes to Dookie, Green Day’s 1994 breakthrough album, you’re pressed to find anything that’s really a rarity. Not only has the band performed the album in full over the years, but a great majority of the album seeps into most of their sets on any given night. Having said that, it would be ideal if “F.O.D.” happened to become a rotating staple in the years to come, maybe subbing in for “Welcome to Paradise” or “Longview”. Sure, that’s a sin to suggest the removal of either of those, but are you really going to miss them when you get the soft-to-loud transition here? Maybe, maybe not, maybe go “F.O.D.” yourself.
Last Played: As previously discussed, they’ve played this one from time to time throughout the years, but mostly during full-album performances of Dookie. It also occasionally surfaced during one of the band’s legs supporting 21st Century Breakdown.
Shake Up With: “Geek Stink Breath”
Sometimes you just want to hear a melody, and that’s the case with “86”. The palm-muted verses, the nasally bridges, the repetitive choruses — it’s all good stuff. “There’s no return from 86,” Armstrong insists, warning: “Don’t even try.” Maybe I’m just getting too fucking old for this shit, but that line feels good to me at age 32, and I’d love to scream it live repeatedly. Not to mention, it would give the band another reason to revisit Insomniac beyond, um, the obvious breadwinners like “Brain Stew”, “Jaded”, or “Geek Stink Breath”. Whatever, we all deserve a selfish pick.
Last Played: Save for a surprise appearance in Quebec City in 2010, this one hasn’t left the album since Milwaukee 2001.
“J.A.R. (Jason Andrew Relva)”
Album: Angus: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Shake Up With: “She”
This one’s a little tricky. Conceived during the band’s sessions for Dookie, “J.A.R.” eventually appeared on the angsty soundtrack to the 1995 coming-of-age dramedy Angus. Since then, it’s guested on Green Day’s International Superhits! compilation from 2001 and later their 2011 live album, Awesome As Fuck. Considering it was part of that live album and repeatedly poked its head in setlists throughout the mid-aughts, one might argue “J.A.R.” is something of a lighter rarity. Even so, it’s an oldie that could use some love, if only for Dirnt’s ballsy bassline and one of the band’s best outros ever, which everyone would have to memorize again: “Gotta make a plan/ Gotta do what’s right/ Can’t run around in circles/ If you want to build a life/ But I don’t want to make a plan/ For a day far away/ While I’m young and while I’m able/ All I wanna do is.” Damn.
Last Played: Three years ago in Providence, Rhode Island, at the Dunkin Donuts Center. Fitting right? Yeah, Angus’ sidekick, Troy, played by actor Chris Owen, would no doubt find a joke in there somewhere.
Shake Up With: “Brain Stew”
“Walking Contradiction” was the last single off Insomniac and apparently a bastard for the basket cases. Reason being, they never play it. Which is only somewhat ridiculous considering the number of hits they have under their belt at this point, but man does this track really wail. Armstrong spits faster than ever here, and the song’s in-your-face aggression — ahem, “Hit and run and then I’ll hit you again/ I’m a smart ass but I’m playing dumb” — could motivate even their crustiest fans to crowd surf among the youngsters. We don’t advise it, but then again, we’re not entirely against the idea, either.
Last Played: Fans in Pontiac, Michigan, circa July 2001 were the last souls to hear this one live. Well, if we’re to trust Setlist.fm.
Shake Up With: “Hitchin’ a Ride”
When Green Day sounds like a hyperbolic version of The Beatles, everyone wins, which is why they really, really, really need to stop playing crap off of Nimrod like “King for a Day” and start playing some of the album’s strong stuff. There are a bunch of sweet spots on the album to slurp up, but few offer a sugar high like “Scattered”. Hard and heavy, this swift, three-minute ditty swings around like a cut off Rubber Soul, only played 10x faster and in the summer heat. Why this song was never released as a single is beyond me — hey, at least “Redundant” eked on by — but they could never play this one too many times.
Last Played: Those lucky Italians living in Milan heard this one as recently as May 2013. Hmm, good for them. Before that, however, the song was played two times in 2012 and 2010 with four appearances in 2009.
“Blood, Sex and Booze”
Shake Up With: “Minority”
Look, we know why Green Day avoids Warning like the plague. It was the low point in the band’s career, four long years before they reclaimed the spotlight with American Idiot. Truth be told, Warning is hardly their nadir, and in some respects, has held up much better than much of their blockbuster works. Over the years, they’ve really only played “Minority”, which has been more than OK because it’s arguably the crown jewel off the album. But guys, there are 11 solid tracks left to consider, among them being “Blood, Sex and Booze”, a cruiser that slowly climbs and climbs and climbs … only to swerve off the road. On stage, it would be a great precursor to something wild.
Last Played: It’s been over seven years since this track reared its poppy head in the band’s setlists, and even then it was only for three scant appearances in 2009. And that was after lying dormant for another seven years prior. In other words, it’s one of those monsters from a horror movie.
“Horseshoes and Handgrenades”
Album: 21st Century Breakdown
Shake Up With: “Letterbomb”
“Wait, only one track from their latter era? What gives?” Yeah, so about that: If you’ve caught Green Day over the last 12 years, odds are you’ve seen the majority of American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. For awhile, it appeared as if “Letterbomb” was the only track they actually held aside from the former album until even that speedy anthem became a regular every night. Now that we’re so far removed from Breakdown, that honor goes to the raucous swinger “Horseshoes and Handgrenades”, the Act III opener of the band’s oft-forgotten sophomore rock opera. If Armstrong can still muster up that scream at the end, we’re all ready to start swinging down below. As for anything off ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!¡, and ¡Tré!, we’ll take “X-Kid”; otherwise, bring on Revolution Radio.
Last Played: Believe it or not (and again, this all from Setlist.fm), but they’ve only played “Horseshoes…” four times, all back in 2009 and all in the Bay Area.