Green Day rocks Hamilton’s Grey Cup halftime show


Published November 20, 2023 at 4:27 pm

Green Day rocked some of their biggest hits at the Hamilton Grey Cup half-time show. via Canada Press.

Punk rock icons Green Day were in fine form last night when they took the stage in Tim Hortons Field for the Grey Cup halftime show.

By the time the game reached the halfway mark, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers led the Montreal Alouettes 17-7. As the teams left the field, singer Billie Joe Armstrong could be heard hyping the crowd, “Can you hear me? This is Canada.”

The band then jumped into their latest single “The American Dream Is Killing Me” from their upcoming 14th studio album Saviors. The trio, which also includes bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tre Cool, then turned to some of their older hits.

They launched into “Basket Case” from their third album, Dookie (1994), and followed up with “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” off their seventh record, American Idiot (2004). B0th of these albums are considered seminal classics. Rolling Stone magazine listed the pair among the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time at 374 and 248, respectively.

Finally, the power trio launched into another American Idiot hit “Holiday” as fireworks erupted over the stadium.

Green Day was established in 1987 in the San Francisco Bay Area, having emerged in the local punk scene. They released two albums with independent label Lookout!, 39/Smooth (1990) and Kerplunk (1991). These early releases earned Green Day the attention of major labels and they soon signed with Reprise Records.

However, the scene that birthed the band, centred around the iconic 924 Gilman St. club, disowned the band as sellouts. Despite this, Armstrong and the band were adamant that they would keep their punk roots and not turn into “second- and third-rate Nirvanas and Soundgardens,” following years of grunge domination of the radio waves.

Green Day dropped Dookie on Feb. 1, 1994, to an initially slow reception. The album only sold 9,000 copies on release. After a few weeks, however, the Dookie picked up steam. Within the next 30 years, it would sell 20 million copies, becoming one of the best-selling records ever.

Its influence was massive and immediate, winning the Best Alternative Grammy. In the years since its release, Dookie has been hailed as a masterpiece that brought punk back into the mainstream. It’s also been credited as the birth of the “pop-punk” movement, which brought a lighter sound to the genre and led to a sea of imitators.

This move toward a poppier sound, and the band’s mainstream success, reinforced the idea Green Day had sold out among the punk scene. They responded with a return to aggressive pure punk on Insomniac (1995), one of the band’s harshest releases. While it wouldn’t reach the same level as Dookie, Insomniac was well received.

This was followed by the more experimental Nimrod (1996) and Warning (2000). While these received positive reviews, the departure from punk was controversial. Warning was a major sales slump for the band, selling far below their previous efforts.

During this slump, conflict grew amid the band. They worked through much of an album, but the master recordings were stolen. As a result, they had to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch. This resulted in American Idiot, both a return to punk form and the band’s biggest experiment yet.

This seminal record was the first punk-rock opera. Though obviously the concept of a “concept album” was not new (see The Who’s Tommy (1969) or Pink Floyd’s The Wall (1979) for the OGs rock operas.), American Idiot brought the idea to punk.

The record tells the tale of Jesus of Suburbia as he grapples with the horrors and hypocrisies inherent in the American Dream. It’s a potent, politically charged screed decrying the Presidency of George W. Bush, the Iraq War and the then-burgening American culture war. Though intrinsic to the era it was produced, the band hoped the album would remain universal.

Green Day followed American Idiot with another rock opera, 21st Century Breakdown (2009). Following this they returned to simple punk roots with their Uuo, Dos, Tres trilogy (2012), Revolution Radio (2016) and Father of all Motherf***ers (2020)

Their next record, Saviours, drops Jan. 19. The tour in support of the album will bring them back to Toronto on Aug. 1 for their only Canadian show in the Rogers Centre.

With files from Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press.

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