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[The following post was written by our friend Omar De La Rosa who was able to attend Green Day's surprise show. Our thanks to him for taking the time to write this for us. You can follow Omar on Twitter (@Xoram) or add him on Facebook]

If there's one thing I learned from Billie Joe Armstrong's recent incursion into the Broadway musical scene, it's to be alert and prepared for anything. With the 21st Century Breakdown World Tour reaching a glorious-yet-saddening end in Costa Rica's paradisiac shores, thousands of Green Day junkies were left fighting against depression, and getting to see everyone's favorite front man on a New York stage proved to be the closest thing to getting a fix for those who could afford to feed the addiction.

When it was first announced that Billie was crawling into St. Jimmy's skin for a week only (an unprecedented event), it was like kicking the hornet's nest of dormant punk-rock and Green Day lovers. In a matter of minutes, hundreds of tickets we're bought, thousands of dollars spent, flights and hotel rooms booked, and vacation requests were being dropped in offices all across the world by fans who scrutinized their calendars and bank accounts trying to figure out a way to get the most 'beef' for their buck. After a week of tremendous success, Broadway had found its favorite son, and Billie Joe was summoned to the battlefield on two subsequent occasions, both of them much longer runs than the original, and both of them announced with the same 'short notice' urgency to them. They were both huge box office successes as well.

Now, I am guilty of all of the sins mentioned above, I participated and helped orchestrate three different trips to New York in an attempt to satisfy my deepest and most basic Green Day needs, and I know exactly how stressful it can it be to make these unexpected trips work out, but no amount of experience could have gotten me ready for the Costa Mesa affair.

As I woke on the morning of Tuesday the 9th of August, I never would have guessed that Green Day was about to announce a 'surprise show' in the city of Costa Mesa, California that was to take place two days later, with all the proceeds going to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. "Freaking Californians and their sweet luck" were more or less the first thoughts that crossed my mind at that moment. A quick glance at my Facebook and Twitter feeds revealed a storm of all different kind of reactions ranging from absolute, blissful happiness to sheer hopelessness and despair, in most cases relative to the subject's proximity to the 'promised land' of Orange County.

Reading the posts of those who were already on the move to get themselves there, is how (as it usually happens) the seed of the "what if?" got planted in my head. Booking a flight was out of the question due to a very uncomfortable financial situation at the moment, so I started looking into terrestrial transportation. California is not that far from where I live. "It has been done before" I told myself as I scrolled through the bus schedules that could get me to Costa Mesa the morning of the show at the very earliest, all trips around 12 or 13 hours long. I was beginning to like the idea more and more when I read some very discouraging gossip: There were already people beginning to camp outside the 'Tiki Bar', a name that didn't promise much in terms of capacity, and with tickets selling at $20.00 on a first-come-first-served basis, my chances of getting in suddenly looked rather grim. So I started the very unpleasant process of getting my hopes down, for if I allowed myself to daydream about this show any longer, it would actually be painful when it didn't happen.

After forcing myself back to reality, I went back to my daily routine, but that night I decided to make the journey. It only took a little incentive to get my imagination running again. Green Day events are always unpredictable and you never know when lady luck might smile upon you, so with only that thought to keep me going, I decided to make the trip and take the risk, swearing that I wouldn't get depressed if I didn't make it inside the venue, at least I would have given it my best shot and I was not giving up without a good try.

It was a beautiful Thursday morning with overcast skies as I rode the Orange County public transport on my way to the venue, which by the time I arrived was completely deserted. If the sign by the door had not confirmed Green Day's presence that night, one would have easily thought that the gig was cancelled. That was not the case. In the middle of the night, as I was riding my bus en route to L.A. I received several messages letting me know that the rules had changed. The government of the city of Costa Mesa had the sudden (and accurate) realization that Green Day fans are insane and that there's no distance not worth traveling to see their first show as a band in almost a year, so, to keep a few thousand individuals from overrunning a place that can only hold a few hundred, they changed the ticketing procedure of the event. No longer would physical tickets be sold at the venue; instead, an online pre-sale was to take place at 1:00 P.M. that day. So now, it was not necessarily going to be the most dedicated fans who would get to go in, it was the ones with the fastest internet connection, quickest fingers and most accurate watches. Feeling stressed yet? Let me assure you that every single one of us in Costa Mesa that day was. Earlier I mentioned that when talking about Green Day shows the word 'unpredictable' is always there one way or another, and oh boy! I was right on the money this time around.

After I finally rendezvoused with some dear friends in a nearby hotel, I was not surprised to see that everyone already had plans of action for the hour of truth, which ranged from using their own computer on a reliable Starbucks connection, borrowing internet and computer from their different hotels and of course taking over libraries and Kinko's all across the OC. I had a plan of my own. I entrusted the task to a dear friend who is an expert ticket hunter with nerves of steel, lots of experience and all that. I knew from the beginning that if my friend couldn't get any tickets I had no chance in hell, so I ended up putting my hopes and dreams in the hands of another and hoping for the best.

At 12:59 P.M., my friend Erika and I were sitting at a Starbucks near the venue. She was pressing the F5 key in her laptop faster than a woodpecker pecks on its favorite tree. At other tables I had spotted one or two Green Day shirts, their owners struggling to relax while staring intently at their laptops, trying to feign that kind of Zen you usually see on martial arts instructors. I was sitting with my eyes closed waiting for a text message that would make me the happiest or most miserable persona in the world depending on its content. Suddenly I heard a wailing cry of sadness and disbelief, for Erika had been offered two tickets by the website, all she needed to do was enter the security password or 'captcha'; it's a shame it took her more or less 5 seconds to accomplish it: Too slow. She was greeted by a "Presale Sold Out" message that left us cold as we realized that tickets were gone in literally 10 seconds. As everyone in the coffee shop stayed refreshing their browsers for another half hour (as if trying to resuscitate a loved one who's passed away and long gone cold), I waited for news of my agent., it came soon enough and read like this: "Presale was a bust. Don't give up hope". Easier said than done.

All that afternoon was filled with very unpleasant feelings as disillusioned fans (myself included) started gathering outside the venue waiting for a miracle to happen. Some sat and waited in a sullen mood for scalpers to show up, others tried to reach the occasional Craigslist and eBay opportunist, some flirted lightly with the security staff while others asked hard questions about the shady ticketing procedure. I was not doing a very good job at 'not giving up hope', for I couldn't afford to pay off a scalper and I'm not very good at the seduction game, so when Erika offered to go back to the hotel to freshen up, I jumped right in.

Right before we left, a gray van pulled over in the parking lot of the 'Tiki' and just by looking at how tense the security people got, you could easily guess who had just arrived. As the vehicle's door swung open, Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, Tré Cool and Jason White stepped out fresh and playful as a summer morning by the beach, they waved kindly at their sparkly-eyed followers and got inside for sound check. Listening to the muffled sounds coming from the bar getting polluted by the traffic, the squealing of those who were still-cheerful and the constant arguments between fans and security only added to the disappointing feeling of the whole situation. So we drove off leaving band and sound check behind us.

Back at the hotel, Erika's idea of 'refreshing' turned out to be negotiating with a scalper who was selling a couple of tickets for $500.00 each, so I had quite a bit of time to check my email and social networking sites. That's when my miracle happened. The idea of me traveling for 13 hours to and from California and not getting in the venue didn't quite agree with my friend the ticket hunter, who has some contacts in the music industry. As I scrolled through my emails, I found one telling me that my name would be on the band's guest list. Even though I was skeptical, I later was able to confirm it with someone at the venue. I was seeing Green Day's promised return that night, and I truly felt like the luckiest human being alive.

Getting myself in line with the other guests and ticket holders was quick but not painless. I sincerely had a hard time holding my head up in front of everyone who was lining up outside and saw what little remained of their hope diminished by the minute. I felt most guilty for the rest of my friends who were outside, people who I truly love and care for, and had to find solace in the fact that they probably were happy for me, and kept hoping that somehow they would find their way inside and we'd share this marvelous experience together. This last thought was a little harder to maintain when we were escorted inside the venue.

The Tiki Bar is tiny place, much smaller than it looks from the outside. So perplexed was I by the almost claustrophobic environment that I hadn't realized I was already standing in front of the left side of the stage (to seasoned Green Day concert-goers this is "Jason's Side"), in front of two gorgeous guitars that I correctly assumed were Billie's and right next to Erika who had gotten a pretty amazing deal from the scalper she had spent the last 4 hours negotiating with. Two flags were the only decoration to be found on the tiny stage, the state of California's and a pirate one. Minimalistic and punk. Everything in the room exuded this beautiful nostalgia of (Green) Days of old, and suddenly I realized that there was something missing onstage: Jason Freese's piano. It was suddenly obvious this was not going to be a night full of their most elaborate work; it quickly became a common assumption among all of us that they we're aiming down and dirty and we were game for it.

Two hours had to be killed before the band were to take the stage that night, and they were spent mostly chit-chatting with our neighbors, a couple of guys from Orange County who had never been to a Green Day show before and somehow got lucky on the pre-sales, they claimed to enjoy their music better in the early days and they were not very fond of their most recent works, they thought it was 'too political'. This was a testament to how different this whole audience was compared to the usual suspects and familiar faces I was missing from touring days long past. 'Celebrity hunting' was another good pastime we got to exercise, being relatively close to the door that led to a backstage area outdoors where Green Day's true guests we're having a good time. Quick glimpses were had of Adrienne, Brittney and Dena: the women who inspire our boys, Kevin Preston from Prima Donna and Foxboro Hot Tubs, Bill Schneider: tour manager and bass guitar for Pinhead Gunpowder, and Michael Esper and Libby Winters from the Broadway Cast of "American Idiot."

At 10:00 P.M. on the dot (after the usual guitar and drum tuning done by the roadies) Billie, Mike, Tré and Jason took the stage looking eager and full of vigor, but also sporting sly smiles and a sneaky attitude. The reason for that was not kept secret for very long. "Hold on, let me get my big-ass Post-Its." Billie told the audience as a great yellow piece of paper was hung on the left side of the stage. "We're going to be playing new shit all night long, he explained to the giggly audience, as he expressed his interest in making a giant set list with all their new songs and coming up with some dance routine names to go with them. And with that they launched into the first of many new gems in their music catalog: "Nuclear Family" started everyone dancing to a straight Rock N' Roll vibe that was very reminiscent of their Foxboro music, maybe slightly less retro with a hint of Warning's unique style and Dookie's upbeat punk feel. By the time the first song was over, Billie showed interest in performing it a second time and submitted it to a vote, only to declare seconds later: "Fuck it! It's not a democracy" and drove into it again in a much more vigorous way.

The first part of the night progressed in a similar fashion, with the band blasting one new song after another and having the happiest of times while doing so. "Stay The Night", "Carpe Diem", "Crushing Bastards", "Little Boy Named Train" and "Sweet 16" are only a few of the titles of 17 new songs that Green Day shared with the audience through the night, all of them with the purpose, cohesion and structure needed to assume that a new album is pretty much around the corner.

Right after "Carpe Diem" was over (a song whose existence was already well known thanks to Niki Lee), an over-enthusiastic girl made an old song request, to which Billie Joe answered "Tonight is for new shit only. To reminisce is to die." I thought that statement fascinating as I observed how young all three of them looked that night, especially Billie, who sported really short hair and after taking off his jacket (full of the usual pins and patches) was left performing in a simple white T-shirt and jeans. It was like watching the man change his skin. Visually, all four of them were stripped of their larger-than-life-rock-star selves and looked like a quartet of punks in someone's garage 25 years ago, but musically, they were not taking a single step back, some songs might evoke memories of old-school Green Day, but their experience as artists and creators is palpable in every beat, chord, bass line, solo or lyric. Their new material is fresh, young, and far richer than anything they've created so far and it's understandable why they wanted to let loose with it for a whole night.

As the night went on, the band decided to throw in a familiar tune. They launched into a cover of Foxboro Hot Tub's "It's Fuck Time", which was a real treat for everyone who has never had the opportunity to experience a Foxboro show before (*raises hand*), but I also realized as I saw the crowd's raunchy dancing and singing along for the first time during the night, that they were eager to hear something familiar. I felt the need of it myself with every "Oh, baby, baby it's fuck time" that came along like a cool and messy rain on a hot summer day. "This is the part where you got to fucking dance as if you knew the songs" said Billie to the audience at some point during the show, and while it was amazing for everyone there to be one of the select few to hear the future of Green Day, and while it was a blast to dance to every one of their new songs, we were eager for a few that we recognized, and they knew it.

So when their first part of the show was over, Billie came back solo on stage to deliver the last new song of the night, a beautiful piece by the name of "Amy", then he was joined once again by his wingmen for an Ozzy Osbourne cover: "Goodbye to Romance" and the lines "I said goodbye to romance, yeah, goodbye to friends, I tell you. Goodbye to all the past, I guess that we'll meet, we'll meet in the end" would have proved a more than fitting end for a night dedicated to the future and the new, but as the song came down to an end, Billie's guitar produced one of the most beloved sounds in his entire music library to date. Listening to the introduction of "Welcome to Paradise" was the droplet of water that made the dam give in to the pressure and suddenly, like a massive tidal wave the Tiki was out of control. Seeing everyone in the crowd sing and dance like that, especially after they looked like they were completely devoid of energy just seconds ago was a thing of beauty, I saw in the eyes and smiles of my peers the purest look of joy and happiness. "Burnout", "Murder City", "J.A.R", "Only of You", "Hitchin'a Ride", "St. Jimmy" and "Minority" came right after to quench the thirst of even the most demanding Green Day Fan, and when all was over, I didn't see anyone who wasn't beaming the greatest, most genuine of smiles on their faces. Such is the magic of a Green Day show.

As I rode my bus back home and gathered my thoughts to write this recap, I started thinking of all my friends across the world who have yet to hear all these wonderful songs, and what a beautiful thing it will be to share them in shows and tours to come. Incidentally, Green Day taught me on this trip that even against impossible odds, unexpected and wonderful things can happen as long as you don't give up. And finally, to those who believed that after "American Idiot" and "21st Century Breakdown" the band had exhausted their creativity, this show, this new upcoming album is a testament of how far Green Day is from being over; there are still massive amounts of water in the fountain of youth. The future shines golden for our Green Day Family all across the earth.

Random notes:

  • Most of my friends and the people who remained faithful outside the venue were able to get into the venue at one point or another during the show. These included many people that members of the Green Day Community would recognize from a multitude of other shows, such as Beffy, DJ Rossstar, Erika, Lulu, Eileen, Kitzya, Diane, Lori, Minority_Em (who flew from Sweden for this show), Dawn Wilcox, the amazing organizer of Green Day Across the World, and many more.

  • At some point during my wait to get in, I got an email from J'net of the GDA asking if I'd be willing to write a recap of the show for the site!

  • Billie realized at some point during the show that the 'big ass Post-It' was left blank and forgotten and exclaimed: "Our list is Bullshit!" which prompted Jason White to grab a magic marker and start drawing in it, with Billie offering constant comments on his 'art'.

  • Before the show, Mike requested his camera phone from one of the Roadies and took pictures of the audience. He said on the microphone that he 'loved to break the rules'.

  • Before playing "Amy", Billie Joe declared: "This next song's called 'Good Riddance'. I wrote it yesterday".

  • After the show, Tré got a couple of beers for a couple of men who acted as Dawn's bodyguards during the show.

  • Billie stated at many points during the show how much he loves good Rock n' Roll, which is very appropriate because this new set of songs is the straightest Rock N' Roll Green Day has ever produced.

  • Some of the dance routines for the new songs were baptized with names such as "Hot Tamale" and "O.J. Simpson".

  • If you are a fan of the band "Train", it's probably a good thing you weren't at this show. I can't remember exactly what Billie said, but it was something to do with their new album or single. He asked if people had listened to it and then proceeded to make a lot of nasty comments about it.

    Set list:

    1. Nuclear Family (Played Twice)
    2. Stay The Night
    3. Too Young To Die
    4. Oh Love
    5. Carpe Diem
    6. Crushing Bastards
    7. Little Boy Named Train
    8. Trouble Maker
    9. Sweet 16
    10. Wow, That's Loud
    11. 8th Avenue Serenade
    12. Ashley
    13. Gabriella
    14. Wild One
    15. It's Fuck Time (Foxboro Hot Tubs song, played twice)
    16. Stray Heart
    17. Last Gang In Town (New song, not a Clash cover)

    18. Amy
    19. Goodbye to Romance (Ozzy Osbourne cover)
    20. Welcome To Paradise
    21. Burnout
    22. Murder City
    23. J.A.R. (Jason Andrew Relva)
    24. Only Of You
    25. Hitchin' a Ride
    26. St. Jimmy
    27. Minority

    [Again, our thanks to Omar for taking the time to write this for us. You can follow Omar on Twitter (@Xoram) or add him on Facebook]
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