Wild Concert Weekend, Ending With Green Day’s Hella Mega Firestorm, Shows The Unpredictable Power Of Live Music



Confetti rained down on a captivated audience who had spent the last four hours pumping, fist and wail on aerial guitars. Two years after its first announcement, the Green Day-led Hella Mega Tour – a showcase of rock’s selling power – ended Monday night in Seattle.

The intergenerational crowd of moms and daughters, boyfriends and girlfriends, dads and … other dads, who filled T-Mobile Park, clung to every word during Green Day’s sentimental send-out of “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”, a remarkable enduring ballad that made the soundtrack of every high school graduation year 2000.

Seemingly loud enough to hear from West Seattle, the amp explosion – for which Green Day was joined by his fellow traditional pop-punks Fall Out Boy and alt-rock hitmakers Weezer – wrapped up the biggest weekend ever. of Seattle concerts in two years with a bang. The pandemic delays to the tour only fueled the anticipation of avid rock fans, who rose to scream when Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” sounded over the speakers even before Green Day stepped on. scene. (Have you ever seen an entire baseball stadium re-enact this scene from “Wayne’s World”?)

“Damn, it took a long time to get here,” commented frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, halfway through their set, as Mike Dirnt’s bouncy bassline threw in a boisterous “Longview”.

Live music doesn’t always go according to script, evident in Hella Mega’s hella delays, and throughout a stacked weekend of COVID-altered concerts. But that unpredictability is part of the magic, and sometimes even the most adverse of circumstances can make nights the most memorable.

After a crisp and crisp “Minority,” Armstrong drew a 15-year-old fan on stage to join them on guitar for a cover of “Knowledge” by revered ska-punks Operation Ivy, former Green Day label mates of their pre-fame days. . It’s a move the band pulled off for at least 20 years, back when they were in the heyday of the Warped Tours along with other pop-punk hooligans. After trying to teach him a few chords under the Jumbotron’s microscope (no pressure, kid), it just didn’t click, and Armstrong instead turned to a less grounded adult to take his place.

The first leg of the Hella Mega tour led by Green Day ended Monday at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.  (Michael Rietmulder / The Seattle Times)

The failed crowd work became a heartwarming moment when Armstrong then reunited with the girl to give him the guitar, perhaps the coolest memory from the biggest rock tour of the summer.

I have seen live music, in one form or another, at least on a semi-regular basis since the restrictions were relaxed this spring. But when pandemic shutdowns forced the industry into a painful hibernation, I often thought of some of my best concert experiences. This was rarely the time when everything was going well.

The Labor Day weekend started off with near-disaster when, just before showtime, Dave Matthews Band vaguely announced that he would perform his Gorge Amphitheater shows in an ‘alternate format’ afterwards. that COVID-19 has shelved its main rhythm section. It could have been a costly disappointment for around 25,000 fans, including the legion of diehards who travel across the country for “Labor Dave Weekend”.

Instead, they watched Matthews and a revamped team take on the challenge, over three nights, and walked away with a “I was there when” story that will forever be part of the DMB lore.

Whichever way you slice it up, the Day In Day Out kickoff festival, which brought a welcome casual vibe to Seattle Center this weekend, lost value when two of its four best acts, Amine and Big Wild, have been canceled due to positive coronavirus tests. Amin was probably the artist I personally looked forward to seeing the most. Although he has performed, in years, I’m less likely to remember the finer details of Amin’s ensemble than I see his replacement – hometown favorite Sol – delivering his first impromptu show. since the lockdown, closing an uplifting ensemble with a touching tribute to a friend lost to COVID-19.

Likewise, I remember the Capitol Hill Block Party of 2019 as the year that sleep-deprived Seattle rapper Sam Lachow, who admitted to being awake until sunrise (or darn near), s It’s made its way through a main filler stage with just a few hours notice, and maybe even less sleep. (I must have remembered this weekend that it was Goldlink that he replaced.)

At the end of the day, live music, for me, is less about flawless performance than it is creating memories.

When I shared my review of DMB’s unforgettable Sunday set on social media, a dear friend and former accomplice of the show left a comment. It reminded me again of a memory I turned to throughout the pandemic when I found myself running out of live music.

In a brutal heatwave in 2012, late Washington thrashers Black Breath played an industrial space turned into a punk house that acted like an oven in the summer and a cooler in the winter. Grabbing some cheap beers that were hot as soup on the third sip, we huddled shoulder to shoulder with a hundred other sweat-soaked punks in a scene that would have given the Fire Marshal a panic attack. It must have been a million degrees under bassist Elijah Nelson’s thick red mane (may he rest in peace) as the band blazed through an even heavier-than-air set in the room.

It was also the second most physically uncomfortable show I have ever seen (I’m still too traumatized to talk about the first). It could have been a miserable disaster.

But it was one of the best nights of my life.

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