I went down to Rhode Island with a friend last week to check out Billie Joe Armstrong‘s new side project, The Longshot. I’ve always been the casual Green Day fan that you likely figured I am, with an occasional jump down the pop punk rabbit hole of their catalog when they come out with a new album. I expected this to remind me of past side steps like Box Car Racer or +44 from the Blink-182 guys a few years back. This was different, though.
We got to the show at The Met, which was a kinda grungy venue similar to The Paradise in Boston. It was small, smelly, with solid show lighting, but a HVAC system pieced together with duct tape dripping on the floor and stage. It was perfect.
A band called The Trash Bags opened up and they were pretty good, a bit of a throw back to that Ramones sound with a pretty gorgeous front man and lady lead guitarist. Their music was good, and I’m sure they’d want a little more from me than that, but really my biggest take away was that… they were pretty people.
A little later near the 10 o’clock hour Billie Joe and his new friends took the stage to ri……wait! I almost forgot THE FOOD! They’ve got a restaurant on site that’s in the same building across the hall. It might be called The Bread Lab, or the Internet might be stupid. In any case, it’s there, it’s good, and they have a good beer menu. All the kids waited outside for three hours in line while we feasted, hailed a few spirits, and got ready for the show.
Ok, a little later–near the 10 o’clock hour–Billie Joe and his new friends took the stage to rip it up. I’ve gotta tell you, I was pleasantly surprised. Billie was energized, in prime form, yelling, running, jumping, swearing. The music was good and it wasn’t just Green Day, these guys got a very different sound.
Tough to explain. Let’s listen.
When you listen to the album, it sounds a bit more pop than Green Day, but being their live, Billie made it more grungy and gritty. He had a new host of bandmates with him and this club we were in couldn’t have had more than 700 people in it. We were packed in pretty close quarters, and the band was loving it. It felt like the types of places where Green Day really got their start. My partner in crime for the evening reminded me that back in the day, the original Green Day lineup were unsigned and had trouble finding places to play, because the small clubs that wanted them couldn’t handle the following they had. Every spot would be over fire code and unable to deal with the attention. They basically had no choice but to sell out a little in the early nineties.
When I first saw them it was at the Boston Garden with around 20,000 other people. It was something like these two pictures combined…
This was a very different feel at a small club in Rhode Island than the masses at the Garden. Billie Joe treated the crowd with respect and helped them go bananas. He started to shout about “New England” and quickly was like fuck that… we are in Rhode Island!!! That went over pretty well. I’ve never seen so many people jump stage and attack the singer in my life. All kids looking for pictures, a kiss on the cheek, a quick hug, and then a big leap into the crowd surf. I expected him to be over the hill a little, for the crowd to be all people in their 40s and for it to be a fun kinda nostalgic rock show. It was nothing like that. People of all ages, rocking out to new hits, with very little Green Day mixed in; 2-3 songs and all from very recent albums. They loved him, and he fed off it. Was awesome.
I’d definitely recommend you checking them out if they come around again. Billie Joe Armstrong had a new life in him. I’m sure he loves Green Day and the decades of friendship with those dudes, but on this night he looked reborn. He looked happy to be alive, happy to be in a small crowd with dripping air conditioners, and especially happy to not be playing When I Come Around and Time of Your Life for the 50,000th time.
Here’s one more song live from the night we rocked in Rhode Island with Billie Joe and The Longshot.