The Hella Mega Tour brought chaos and celebration to Philadelphia - Green Day, Weezer, and more - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

“Oh my god, what a beautiful moon tonight,” Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong told the crowd during the interlude of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” as the entire Citizens Bank Park audience turned backwards to look. “It’s a Philadelphia moon.”

The moon wasn’t quite a full moon – really a waxing gibbous, according to the internet – but you wouldn’t have known the difference given the craziness of the night. The Hella Mega Tour rolled its way through Philadelphia last night, bringing three of the world’s biggest rock bands along with it. Weezer, who kicked things off, brought the old school 90s vibe, complete with mulleted and mustachioed* Rivers Cuomo. Fall Out Boy brought the new school aughties angst, complete with runaway raucous and a rainstorm. And Green Day, who by this point has established themselves as one of the greatest live acts of the past 30 years, brought the chaos and the fury, but also the fun and the celebration.

Green Day | photo by Tom Beck

Since the three punks from Oakland have reached their late 40s, Billie Joe, Mike Dirnt, and Tre Cool have earned money and fame. Cynics will say this makes them less “less punk,” and they have a point. After all, the mischievous brat look doesn’t look so good on anybody once they’ve reached the age of 49 and have millions of dollars (this is why nobody takes John Lydon seriously anymore). Despite Green Day trying to make that presentation work on their latest, and quite frankly, worst album to date – entitled Father of All Motherfuckers – the band handled itself with the joy of a 12-year-old who just learned his first guitar chord onstage Friday night. Throughout the performance, Armstrong bestowed upon the crowd a wide-grinned Spongebob Squarepants smile, bantered with the crowd by creating a divide between fans from Philadelphia and fans who came from New Jersey, and, generally speaking, seemed to enjoy every minute of being on stage even after all these years. It makes sense for a guy who, when not playing music with Green Day, plays music with The Replacements, Norah Jones, The Coverups, The Foxboro Hot Tubs, The Longshot, Pinhead Gunpowder, his kids and more. 

The band’s setlist was surprisingly American Idiot heavy, complete with tracks like “American Idiot,” which kicked off the set, “Jesus of Suburbia,” “Holiday,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “St. Jimmy” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends.” But it wasn’t without earlier material like “Basket Case,” “She,” “When I Come Around,” “Minority,” and “Hitchin’ A Ride.” Luckily, the only Father of All track that made the cut was “Pollyanna.” The night ended the same way as every Green Day show – a rendition of the band’s signature ballad “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).”

Weezer | photo by Tom Beck

At this point, the debate over Green Day’s live performances has long been settled. The band’s youthful embrace of the music they’ve created over the past three-plus decades never runs dry. Nor does the appreciation they get from seeing sports stadiums filled with moshing Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers dancing to the timeless, power chord filled songs that have transcended – and will continue to transcend – generations. The fan/band relationship is the end result of a songwriting genius’s uncanny ability to keep it simple, stupid. Just slap a few guitar chords together, match it with a catchy vocal melody and get it played on the radio. At a Green Day concert, a rock band can transport its fans to the year 2004 or 1994 or even 1991 without the aid of a time machine. For a second, you might just feel like you’re at Reading Fest 2013, Milton Keynes in 2005 or even JC Dobbs in 1993 – even if it’s not quite a full moon. 

*we’re pretty sure the facial hair was fake and the hairdo was a wig.

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