Early Tuesday morning (Sept. 10), Green Day announced a new album with a single, “Father of All…”. Twelve hours later, they were performing it for 500 people in Los Angeles. Twice, in fact. As the two-and-a-half-minute track faded out, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong — with bright red lipstick smeared across the entire bottom half of his face — griped that it was “too short,” so the band started it over and played it again.
The super-intimate gig took place at West Hollywood’s Whisky-a-Go-Go as a very early preview of what’s to come for Green Day—an album that won’t be out for another five months and a tour that won’t hit stadiums in the U.S. until July 2020. The show’s co-headliners, Weezer and Fall Out Boy, will be on board for the 42-city worldwide stadium tour, along with special guests The Interrupters. It’s been dubbed the Hella Mega Tour, and for good reason. As far as rock lineups go, it’s comically overstacked.
The three-headed tour is a rock ‘n’ roll show of force given that all three bands have fanbases large enough to fill amphitheaters and arenas on their own. And while there’s likely some overlap, all three bands have carved out their own place in rock history over the years. Weezer injected some much needed geek culture into the macho rock scene of the 90s. FOB tapped into a mid-aughts zeitgeist with a modernized version of pop-emo. And then there’s the mighty Green Day, whose 1994 album Dookie was the rising tide that lifted all punk ships for a generation.
“We’re you’re friendly neighborhood opening band,” Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo told the crowd to kick off the show. The sheer premise of it — that Weezer were some local kids playing for gas money — got some laughs out of the audience. As did his baseball shirt which featured Fall Out Boy’s name above a photo of the members of Green Day.
Weezer squeezed a lot into a tight 35-minute set, with old-school crowd-pleasers like “Undone (The Sweater Song)” and “Say It Ain’t So,” as well as some Green Album material including “Hash Pipe” and “Island in the Sun.” Like Green Day, they also premiered a new song they’d released that morning, called “The End of the Game,” though they only played it once. With its over-the-top metal guitar shredding intro, it fit right in at the Whisky, a venue that once served as a hair metal mecca in the genre’s late 1980s heyday.
Weezer closed their set with their freak phenomenon cover of Toto’s “Africa,” with Cuomo taking full advantage of his wireless microphone. He did a lap around the venue’s perimeter, including the second level, while blessing the rains and leading the upper deck in a chorus that’s just too catchy to deny. After putting their instruments down, the four members remembered they had one last thing they wanted to do and whipped out a barbershop quartet-style version of “Buddy Holly,” which seemed like an inside bet among them to see if they’d actually go through with it.
FOB then played a similarly tight 35 minutes, making the evening feel like a competition to see which band could out-hit-single each other. They ran through such beloved anthems as “Saturday” and “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race,” and, like Weezer and Green Day, they also sneaked a new song which they had debuted earlier in the day, “Dear Future Self (Hands Up).” The triple debut peeled back the curtain on a surgical strike rollout operation coordinated by the three bands and their respective teams.
“Right now, we’re gonna time travel,” bassist Pete Wentz told the room. “The last time we played a show here, it was right when this song came out.” The band then launched into their 2005 sing-along staple “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down.”
If the evening was indeed a contest to flex the deepest catalog of rock singles, Green Day handily took the prize as the band played hit after hit after hit during an abridged setlist that has spanned more than two hours in stadium settings. “American Idiot,” “Basket Case,” “Brain Stew,” and “Minority” all got trotted out, as did a pleasantly surprising Dookie cut, “She.”
“We’re so excited for this tour because fuckin’ rock ‘n’ roll is fuckin’ alive!” Armstrong told the audience which, for reasons that didn’t seem clear to anyone in attendance, suddenly included a person dressed as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ mascot. Armstrong also suggested that everyone get naked, because why not?
“We’re all going streaking down Sunset Boulvard tonight!” he said, pointing towards the street where fans had lined up earlier that day while it was barely light out, hoping to score a ticket. There were dozens of Green Day classics left unplayed, but the house music coming on and bassist Mike Dirnt showering the crowd in champagne was a pretty good indicator that no encore was forthcoming.
On the way out of the venue, employees handed out still-warm t-shirts with HELLA MEGA printed on the front and the three bands’ names on the back. An attendee grabbed one and passed it to his girlfriend. “Just think,” he told her, “the next time we see this tour, it’ll be in a baseball stadium.”