October 2005: Green Day At The Warfield in San Francisco
The best and worst concerts of my life happened within two weeks of each other. Ready for this? It was the same band.
Fall of 2005. I was doing a morning show on a Top 40 station in Northern California, which is where Green Day got their start many years earlier.
By this point, Green Day had become a “radio band.” And like most of their real fans, that got on my nerves. “Good Riddance” (or as most think the song is called “Time Of Your Life”) had unfortunately become the group’s signature song. When the band’s tour came through California, the closest stop to us in the Central Valley was in Fresno, California.
Fresno is butt ass ugly. Throw out everything you think you know about California – the Golden Gate bridge, surf boards and wine vineyards. Fresno is a run down forgotten city – but they have a big arena. I did the two hour drive south even though I had to be up at 5AM to do my morning show the next day.
The show was awful. Between Billie Joe Armstrong covering goofy oldies while trying to get the crowd to clap along and the painful “which side of the building is louder” routine, I tuned out early in the show. Any edge the band had seemed to be gone forever. One image I can’t shake to this day is a fat balding man in a hawaiian shirt clapping along and dancing in the aisle. I vowed to never see another Green Day concert again. I didn’t want to ruin the great memories of previous tours with more hawaiian shirts and clap alongs.
A couple days later, word got out that Green Day was going to do a one off private show at The Warfield in San Francisco. Not much was known about it. Since the band is from the Bay, I assume it was more of a family and friends event. The venue holds about 2,000 at the most. It’s where up and coming bands play – not the “radio bands” like Green Day. Concert goers don’t wear hawaiian shirts. They wear black t-shirts and nose rings. The few tickets that did go on sale to the public vanished in seconds. I knew I had to use my radio pull and I broke that promise to myself I made after Fresno.
My radio connections came through and the night will never be topped.
First, Green Day played their entire “American Idiot” album. A few of their older hits would follow during an encore and that was probably where things were supposed to wrap up. But they didn’t. The band I missed was back at least for one night. They starting performing random covers and songs they hadn’t done in years. And they actually looked like they were having fun.
There were long gaps between some songs since there clearly was no set list anymore. Those of us lucky enough to be in the audience used this downtime as an opportunity to shout out our own requests. I got the people in my area to pick up the chants “Tre! Tre! Tre!” in hopes of getting Tre Cool to come out from behind the drums to do his infamous hidden track “All By Myself” and “Dominated Love Slave.” Billie Joe heard us and made it happen. That robotic band that I despised in Fresno had come back to life and it was the coolest moment ever.
They ended up playing almost 3 hours. Their SECOND encore lasted longer than the planned entire concert. Rules were thrown out. Fun was had. It was the way rock used to be before predetermined set lists and arena curfews.
It’s 8 years later. This weekend, I was talking music with a buddy of mine about favorite bands and he rolled his eyes when I said mine is Green Day. To those who know the radio band, say good riddance to “Good Riddance” and discover the band’s early music. Hungry bands always make better music.
I was shocked to find these recordings from that night at The Warfield. If anyone has audio from the entire show, you’ll be my new best friend! Tweet or Facebook me!
8/1/15 UPDATE: Thanks so much to @Planfan, I am listening to the San Francisco show in its entirety. See his links in the comments below!
The songs performed:
Jesus of Suburbia
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Are We the Waiting
Give Me Novacaine
She’s a Rebel
Wake Me Up When September Ends
Welcome to Paradise
J.A.R. (Jason Andrew Relva)
If Only You Were Lonely (The Replacements cover)
Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover)
Surrender / Bastards of Young / Brown Sugar
All By Myself
Dominated Love Slave
Rock the Casbah (The Clash cover) (Jason White on lead vocals)
Dancing with Myself (Billy Idol cover)
King for a Day
Blitzkrieg Bop (Ramones cover)
I Fought the Law (The Crickets cover)
2000 Light Years Away
Won’t Get Fooled Again (The Who cover)
We Are the Champions (Queen cover)
Shout / Always Look on the Bright Side of Life / Stand by Me
I Fought the Law (The Crickets cover)
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