Show Review: AFI & Green Day @ Molson Amp

Content in the Same Old Shtick Again

AFI & Green Day

At Molson Canadian AmphitheatreAug 18 2010

There aren’t a whole lot of people around at 6:50pm when AFI hits the stage at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre; at least not as many as there will be later on in the night.  Despite being a band just as long as Green Day has, and boasting a gigantic cult following, AFI is reduced to a 40-minute set and a crappy start time.  It’s alright though, the hardcore fans who’ve shelled out up to $90 to see their favourite band are happy with how close they can get to Davey Havok, Jade Puget, Hunter Burgan and Adam Carson.
Without the pressure of being the headliner, these guys put on a fun, though radio-friendly set.  Singer Havok is able to make eye contact with each of his adoring fans in the pit.  This backfires when he sees an old woman scold a few moshing fans in a principal-like fashion.  He cracks up so much that he can barely sing ‘Dancing Through Sunday’ (check out the video evidence). Their set is further disrupted by a giant mascot eagle (filled with a Green Day member, no doubt) who tries unsuccessfully to throw Havok off his game, followed by a couple of loud explosions that were “accidentally” set off by Green Day’s camp.  Like we saw during their technical difficulty-ridden set at last year’s Edgefest, AFI proves their professionalism and good nature by laughing it off and continuing with the show.
After AFI’s set, many of their fans vacate the area, making room for the masses of Green Day followers.  Tonight’s show is completely sold out, with the pit packed fuller than I have ever seen.  A hint to anyone who is planning to see Green Day on this tour- if you’re not a huge fan of their last two albums, show up late.  The first hour of their set is comprised mostly of the overplayed American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown.  It’s worth the wait, as older gems like ‘2000 Light Years Away’ and ‘Paper Lanterns’ show up in the second hour.
While Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool put on a great show both musically and technically, they’re held back by the overwhelming immaturity of their live personas.  To put things in perspective, the last time I saw these guys live was during the Pop Disaster Tour with Blink 182 in 2002. Since then, I’ve graduated both high school and university…and they’re still stuck on the same gimmicks.  Even Blink 182 has matured since then, which says a lot.  Throughout the night we’re “treated” to toilet paper guns, water hoses, t-shirt cannons and loud blasts of sound after every other song (apparently this is supposed to be “cool”).  These guys, particularly front man Bille Joe, seem completely obsessed with crowd participation.  Almost every song dissolves into varying themes of the audience chanting “Hey! Hey! Hey!” This makes most of their songs even longer than their recent epic singles.  Billie Joe, whose stage presence is somewhere between Willy Wonka and Beetlejuice, constantly looks to the crowd, throws his hands up in the air with a smile as if to say, “come on, praise me. I’m still fun right?” By the end of the night, it’s just downright sad.
One thing I cannot fault Green Day for is their dedication to their fans.  They certainly work overtime to make sure that they please the crowd to the best of their ability.  In a risky move, they allow bunches of fans onstage to sing and dance with them.  They even hand the mic over to a fan to perform ‘Longview’ à la Mark Wahlberg in Rock Star.  If that weren’t enough, Billie Joe hands over his very own guitar as a parting gift.
The three-hour set could and should have been pared down to two by cutting out a lot of the useless stunts. Especially the half hour of ‘Shout’ renditions by every member of the band, still dressed in their ridiculous ‘King for a Day’ costumes.  It’s clownish and mildly embarrassing at best.  This turns into a seeming never-ending stream of partial cover songs.  In fact, there are ten of them, including ‘Iron Man’, ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, ‘Highway to Hell’ and ‘Hey Jude’ (to which one girl commented wryly, “this is the best song they’ve played all night!”) They play the first couple of bars, getting everyone into the song before abandoning it for another. It reminds me of high school when certain friends would learn the most recognizable parts of songs on guitar just to impress people at parties.
Just when I’ve had just about enough of the childishness and the Hey! Hey! Hey-ing crowd, the mood abruptly downturns with ‘Jesus Of Suburbia’, ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’ and ‘Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)’.  However, these tracks command a seriousness that is nowhere to be found at this point.  Billie Joe went from mimicking masturbation to mock crying.  Needless to say, it’s difficult for anyone to follow this train of thought.
Maybe I’ve gotten old and can’t keep up with the humour of these guys anymore. Or maybe they need a new shtick.  I mean, Ozzy has stopped biting bats, Marilyn Manson gave up the woman suit and several boy-band members have come out of the closet. No one, not even mega-bands like Green Day can afford to stay static in a world that has a two second-long attention span.
(Original publication: Bring Back the Boom Box Magazine- Oct 20 2010)


About J2

What happens when you're a wordsy music aficionado who works for NXNE, CMW, HPX, Olio Music Festival, The JUNOs and Polaris Music Prize? You spend all of your free time blogging about it... Follow on Twitter if you're so inclined: @HearPlugged

Posted on March 7, 2011, in Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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