Review: At the Hella Mega Tour it was all about the cult of Green Day
Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Weezer packed Petco Park’s East Village stadium, and the three rock acts doted on their loyal followings
“Do the kids still like rock music?” Fall Out Boy’s bassist Pete Wentz asked the Petco Park crowd, halfway through its set at the Hella Mega Tour. Judging from the screams that echoed throughout downtown San Diego, it’s safe to say the kids — and the genre — are alright.
Hordes of fans swarmed East Village on Sunday night to see three big names: Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Weezer (The Interrupters, a ska-punk band from Los Angeles, opened the event). Though the stacked lineup straddles the pop-punk genre, the rock ‘n’ roll vibe permeated the stadium. And ticketholders dressed the part, clad in a standard uniform of ripped jeans and band tees.
Though elder millennials and young Gen Xers dominated the crowd, the all-ages show didn’t discriminate. Nearly every generation was represented in the stands, from young kids out late on a school night to Boomers with “Cool Mom” tank tops. Though similarly dressed, the fanbase spanned all walks of life — filled with self-identified outsiders and misfits who leaned on the music of all three bands to get through hard times.
Mere hours before the show, a light sprinkle threatened to re- re- schedule Hella Mega Tour’s San Diego date, originally slated for July 24. Luckily, the weather pulled through to deliver clear skies and dry chairs by the 5:30 p.m. start time. But that famous San Diego climate came at a price, with a bright ball of sunlight blinding the crowd — and possibly questioning their outfit choices — as the sea of Vans, Converse and Dr. Martens-wearers searched for their seats.
Perhaps the daytime element served as the biggest disadvantage for Weezer, who took to the stage a full hour before the sun set. To the rock band’s credit, the seats were far more packed than a typical “opener” would draw. (Admittedly, the triple Grammy-award winning band would likely scoff at being referred to as anyone’s opening act.)
Be it the daytime backdrop or a concerted effort to save energy, the audience reacted casually to Weezer’s performance; aside from those donning “Weezer” t-shirts, listeners mostly stayed seated, approvingly nodding or swaying in their seats. Hits like “Buddy Holly” and “Pork and Beans” picked up steam, and try-hardfront man Rivers Cuomo’s audience pandering — such as changing a lyric in “Beverly Hills” to “livin’ in San Diego” — were received well.
Weezer’s ego may have taken a bit of a blow when the audience participation soared to a song that wasn’t even its own, but its radio-friendly cover of “Africa” by Toto. The crowd also went wild to a single line in “El Scorcho.”After Cuomo belted the lyrics, “I asked you to go to the Green Day concert,” the band took a dramatic pause, followed by the Jumbotron zooming in on a fan’s Green Day shirt before panning to the rest of the now-standing crowd.
The sun finally dipped under the stands just as Weezer wrapped the last song of its one-hour set. A half hour later, Fall Out Boy was greeted by the excitement of nightfall paired with flames blasting from the stage. Dressed casually — aside from the shirtless, tattoo-clad drummer Andy Hurley, the band donned black t-shirts and hoodies — the four-piece proved looks can be deceiving, delivering a solid performance that was far from sloppy.
As expected, fangirls swooned for Wentz, who received more name chants and crowd asides than lead singer Patrick Stump. But if the other band members took offense, they didn’t let it show. The crowd returned the energy Fall Out Boy delivered; dedicated fans stayed standing throughout the set, while those sitting sang along to the set list that spanned more than a decade, rarely missing a beat.
Post Fall Out Boy, the surprisingly-patient audience was rewarded with a two-song crowd energizer. Speakers started blaring Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and the Jumbotron plastered faces of screaming, singing and smiling faces. Then came the most bizarre appearance of the night — an unknown person dressed in a bunny costume, who chugged a beer before leading the crowd in “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones.
Any speculation about which act the sold-out crowd was there to see washed away once Green Day stepped onto the stage. In unison, the entire audience rose to its feet and stayed standing for the nearly two-hour set.
Yet it didn’t seem like the crowd’s energy was enough for 49-year-old frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, who performed like he was still in his 20s. Acting almost as a cult leader, he made constant demands on the crowd, which obeyed without question. Per his orders, the crowd agreed to “go crazy,” from jumping to “Know Your Enemy” to putting their “f—ing hands up in the air” during “American Idiot.” Armstrong even convinced everyone to shine their phone lights during “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” — illuminating Petco Park enough to turn off all the stadium lights.
Despite his demands, Armstrong’s orders carried no animosity. The band’s intense feelings of appreciation permeated the performance, giving the audience star treatment and delivering 110 percent for every song in the iron-clad set. From the sweat dripping off the band members’ hands during “Wake Me Up When September Ends” to Armstrong shining a physical spotlight on the crowd during “Holiday,” it was clear that for Green Day, the fans come first. (One fan was even invited on stage to perform a guitar solo for “Knowledge,” a song by Operation Ivy, and was then allowed to keep the guitar.)
“It’s been a long year but we’re still alive,” Armstrong told the audience, his voice bleeding with sincerity, before easing into the band’s 2016 hit “Still Breathing.”
A large burst of confetti, fireworks display and a fittingly titled encore, “Time Of Your Life” closed the six-hour evening. After the COVID-19 shutdown starved these rock fans of live music for over a year, Green Day, Weezer and Fall Out Boy delivered on their promise for a Hella Mega, time of their lives.
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