I remember hearing “American Idiot” by Green Day on MTV when it first debuted back in 2004 when I was only nine years old. Shortly after I got my first guitar and rounded up all the Green Day CD’s, books, and documentaries that I could get my hands on.
I can never explain why this band means so much to me or why they are my favorite band, all I know is I have never loved any other band more than Green Day. There is something about their music that is so easy to connect with.
Fast forward to 2010, Green Day is on their 21st Century Breakdown tour with AFI while I beg and plead for my parents to let me see the night before I start my Sophomore year of High School. Somehow to my surprise my mom took me to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park in Alpharetta, Georgia on August 9, 2010.
I remember getting to the front gate with more joy inside than a small child on Christmas. Sadly, the security team took my sign that said “I can play Jesus of Suburbia”, which I had made in hopes of Billie picking me as the lucky audience member that could be the guest guitarists for one song.
I brushed it off and just made my way towards the stage, where I held down a spot just to the left of the stage. I started inching closer and closer to the front rail as people who move and shift positions; as I kept getting closer and closer, the anticipation for the show grew more and more.
I remember AFI’s set being phenomenal, but the crowd was nowhere near as wild as when Green Day took the stage. They of course revisited old hits such as “Miss Murder” and Davey Havok dedicated the song to Green Day’s drummer Tre Cool. Though I thought I was having the time of my life moshing to AFI, I was in no way prepared for the night I had before me.
The lights on the stage began to dim, the beginning of “Song of the Century” began to play over the speakers and we all sang together as one big family. As the words “sing us a song for me” echoed through the Amphitheater, the graphics of a city scape began to illuminate the stage as Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tre Cool come running to the stage. As soon as they were visible the entire crowd came rushing forward, this is where is became a fight to hold down my spot against the front rail.
They opened with 21st Century Breakdown and I don’t think I have ever moshed so hard or screamed so loud in my life. From start to finish, Green Day puts on one hell of a show. When Billie Joe Armstrong decided to throw in some old songs like “Paper Lanterns” I was absolutely ecstatic.
Never in a million years did I ever fathom what would happen next. Billie Joe then asked “Who wants to come on stage?” as other members of the band start looking through the crowd for people to bring on stage to dance. This was my chance; I start waving at Jason White, screaming his name, and telling him I want to meet them. To my surprise I see Jason White say “Yeah, you!” and point directly at me.
In a fit of excitement I start furiously tapping a security guard on the shoulder while screaming “He wants me! He wants me!” and pointing at Jason. Jason then gave the security guard a thumbs up and nodded his head, next thing I know I was being pulled over the gate, and being thrown on stage.
I stumble to my feet, turn around and have the most jaw dropping realization, “I am on stage standing next to Billie Joe Armstrong in front of a sold out show.” I am still surprised to this day I didn’t cry tears of joy, instead I ran around stage and moshed like a lunatic while they played “Paper Lanterns” and “2,000 Light Years Away”.
Tre Cool still to this day probably thinks I am that weird kid that accidentally bumped into his cymbal when I tried to tell him how awesome he is.
The feeling of being on stage with a group of guys you’ve looked up to your whole life is so surreal; what felt like thirty seconds turned out to be about a minute to a minute and a half. And when it was over, it was over…or so I thought.
I went home reliving the moment through YouTube videos, where some sound was distorted. I kept hoping for a high quality video to surface, but never had any luck.
Green Day then announced they would be producing another live album and movie similar to their 2005 release “Bullet in a Bible”. I had my fingers crossed it would be a mash-up of footage taken from the whole tour, and yet again I was sadly disappointed as the whole movie took place in Japan.
But the album didn’t come from the audio on the movie, the album was actually individual tracks recorded at all the concerts of the course of the 21st Century Breakdown tour. The live album and movie were called “Awesome as F***”, and they definitely live up to their title.
As I started searching for the album on iTunes, my heart dropped when I saw the track “Paper Lanterns/2,000 Light Years Away”. I clicked on the details and it said “Live from Alpharetta, Georgia”. This was the moment I finally cried tears of happiness.
My favorite band hand-picked songs for a live album and somehow I lucked out and it’s the song when I got on stage. I still to this day have an old, busted iPod touch that is somehow miraculously still working. The only reason I still own it is because it has the download of that song on it. Anytime I press the play button on that song I get indescribable cold chills.
Words can’t even describe how I feel about my first concert; it was amazing, memorable, jaw dropping, and just all around one of the best experiences of my life.