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[img=111911_red7 GD.jpg]I was fortunate enough to attend the surprise Green Day show in Austin, Texas on Thursday night. Here's my recap (if you'd prefer to skip to details from the performance, you can skip to "The Show" part in bold!)...

When I first heard about the show happening, my first thought was, "Can I get there?" Given my past experiences to date, I felt that it was possible. This time, unlike the previous 4 surprise shows, I immediately had a good feeling about doing it, and that gave me the belief and confidence to go for it. Within a couple of hours, I had a flight booked to fly out to Austin, TX on Wednesday morning (UK time).

A big part of the thrill of doing this kind of thing, for me, is the thought that I can go from sitting in front of my computer at home one day to being at a Green Day show thousands of miles away the very next!

Having got myself packed and ready to go in quick time, I headed out of my home in England just after 5am. A 2 hour train journey to the airport, followed by 10 hours on the plane to Houston, and then an hour connecting flight to Austin, and I was in the city where I needed to be by Wednesday afternoon, Texas time!

I headed straight to my hotel to try and get some rest before the big day. At the same time, I was doing my best to keep in touch with fellow fan friends around the world, as we all went through the (now almost customary) excitement and tension that follows the announcement of a surprise Green Day show. My friend Drew (from recently featured band Far As Hell), lives in the Texas area, so he headed down to join me that night along with a friend of his.

A combination of jet lag and excitement meant an early start the next morning, the day of the show. We were still awaiting confirmation of the exact whereabouts of the show, so spent most of the morning on the edge of our seats, glued to the internet for updates on that and the ticketing process.

At around 11am, news broke (on twitter first, of course) that the show would be at 'Red7' club in downtown Austin. Tickets would be sold on-line at noon, and there were just 400 available.

A few more fan friends who had made the trip from around the state had come to join us in the hotel room as we all positioned ourselves as ready as possible to try and grab tickets the moment they became available. The somewhat unique stress for us of trying to get a Green Day ticket was reaching its peak, as high noon drew ever closer!

As 12pm struck, we frantically refreshed our multiple internet windows, hoping to get our chance. The surge in traffic meant that we had an agonising couple of minutes wait before any of us got through. I was the first to get through to the ticket option, and I thought that was it. I was allowed to select up to a maximum of 4 tickets, and so I selected that option to try and get enough to help cover my waiting friends as well as myself. "Tickets unavailable" - damn! I tried again for 2, thinking that perhaps the maximum might actually be that (as with the other recent) shows. Again, "Tickets unavailable." Growing increasingly concerned, I tried again for just one ticket. Same result. And then just a moment later, we were greeted with the devastating message: "Tickets sold out."

The atmosphere in the room all of a sudden fell very quiet and depressed. None of the 6 of us had managed to get through. Cue another frantic search, this time for other possible methods of getting a ticket. I headed to our forum, the Green Day Community, to update that I'd been unsuccessful and also to see whether others had any luck. It turned out a few people had managed to beat the 15-second sell-out time, and were understandably celebrating their success.

Luckily for me, a member on the forum had seen the post about my plight and offered me his spare ticket (having bought 2). He could've easily looked to sell the ticket for a profit as some people were already doing on sites such as eBay and Craigslist, but instead he chose to help out a fellow fan. That's a testament to the attitude of the people in our community, something that I believe is organically passed down by the values and ethics displayed by the band themselves.

While I was fortunately sorted for the show, my friends were still in limbo. So, the next goal was to try and find a way for them to get in as well. We decided to head to Red7 and see if other fans turned up with spare tickets. We got to the venue at around 3pm, a good 5 hours before the doors were due to open. To our surprise, there were only 2 people already in line, and they were in the same boat - missing out on the on-line sale, and hoping to find another opportunity.

As the hours passed, things were looking less and less promising. The line barely grew, and most of the people who were joining it were adding to the numbers that didn't have a ticket. It was saddening to see that many Green Day fans were set to miss out because of scalpers who had bought tickets, just to then re-sell them at an immediate profit. It seems ridiculous to me that this kind of thing is still possible in this day and age.

Regardless, we would not give up and, one way or another, I'm pleased to report that most of the people looking to get in eventually found a way. At this point I'd like to give a special mention to Lauryn (loulou on our forum) and Bryce, who unfortunately didn't make it in, but still managed to enjoy the show from outside while also streaming the audio live to our community, and making the night of many other fans around the world. I'm incredibly impressed and inspired by their positive attitude towards missing out and taking it as an opportunity to help fellow fans take part who couldn't be physically near the show.

At around 6pm, we began to hear some familiar sounds coming from inside the venue, as Green Day were beginning their sound check. An immediate surge in excitement saw the dozen or so of us that were waiting run around to the back of the venue to get the best possible vantage point. We discovered then that the part of the venue where Green Day were performing was uncovered, hence we were able to hear the entire soundcheck perfectly. We all began jumping and dancing excitedly to Stay The Night, and 2 or 3 more of the new songs that Green Day have been playing at the recent shows. It was the first real Green Day buzz of the day for us; and for me personally, it was a really memorable moment and an affirmation if I needed it, that I'd made the right decision coming out for the show.

About an hour before the doors were due to open, a camera crew from Fox news turned up to do a report and interview fans. As soon as Drew pointed out to them that I'd come from England for the show, they wanted to interview me! Like most people (more so non Green Day fans), the interviewer couldn't quite get his head around the fact that I'd travelled from England just for the show, and had seen them so many times previously.

The final hour's wait felt the longest as the line eventually grew, along with the anticipation. Just after 8pm the doors finally opened and we began filtering in. My first impressions were that it was a pretty cool looking place, if a little on the 'dive-y' side (but i would say that adds to its charm). The first room you walk into has a very small stage along with some American diner style tables, a bar, and a pool table in the middle of the room. There was a bunch of free copies of the official poster on the pool table, so I grabbed a few (a couple of which we'll be giving away on GDA soon).

Along with my new friend and trip-saver, Josh, we headed through the door at the back to the outside area where the show would take place. It was a large-ish patio area (or beer garden as we might call it in England) with a bar set at the back opposite the stage. I'd describe the stage as pretty wide and shallow in size, with a red back drop (hence the club name). The shallow depth meant the drum kit was pretty close to the front of the stage. Having seen them more recently amongst a 70-thousand-odd crowd at Wembley stadium, it felt almost unreal that we'd be seeing Green Day in such a setting in just a couple of hours.

Before that though, Green Day touring guitarist, Jeff Matika and his band, The Wicked Good, took to the stage to play around a 40 minute set of what I'd describe as pretty fast-paced punk rock. I enjoyed their set and look forward to seeing more of them in the future. Quickly after their set, Mystic Knights Of The Cobra were up. Having seen them a few times before on Green Day related bills, I'm pretty familiar with their stuff and took the opportunity to get amongst the crowd and have my first bop around of the evening!

Amongst all the excitement, it felt like almost no time at all before Green Day were taking to the stage.

The show:

This is where it gets a little difficult to recollect everything that happened over the next 2 and half-plus hours. I think most fans will agree when I say that it's a whirlwind-like experience, where everything kind of morphs together in a "life like dream" (that's most definitely for me!). However, I'll try my best to convey the feelings and moments that I experienced during the show.

Overall, I have to say it felt like the perfect mix of old and new. Billie Joe introduced the set mischievously saying something like "We're gonna play some old stuff, some new stuff, some in the middle stuff." And they did not disappoint (do they ever?). Opening with "Welcome to Paradise", the title of that song summed it up for everyone that was fortunate enough to be there. To Green Day fans, this is paradise, and we felt most welcome! Ok, enough with the cheesy Green Day puns (...maybe...).

With that old classic, the crowd were instantly on-side, and palpably waiting for anything that the band were willing to throw at us. They followed up with a couple of new tracks, one of which I think was "Stay The Night", a song that is quickly becoming a fan favourite. With an incredibly catchy riff and chorus, I think it's set to be a stand out track on the next Green Day record. "Carpe Diem" followed at some point, and is another one to raise the hearts and minds of the recipients.

As Omar very rightly pointed out in his recap of the Costa Mesa show back in August, it's extremely difficult to completely take in everything that you experience during a show. The combination of the intensity and emotions make it a roller coaster-like ride, with the most advisable option being to enjoy the moment you're in... Carpe Diem (...of course I was going to go there again!).

So, with it being difficult to recap the show in chronological order, I'll instead recap some of the moments that have "stuck with me" (last one!):

One of my highlights of the night was the awesome transition between classic songs "2,000 Light Years Away" and "Brain Stew". I'm pretty sure this was completely impromptu, with Billie Joe, of course, leading the transition. As the rest of the band became aware, they joined in and brought the song to an even more rousing crescendo than if they were starting the song from scratch.

The spontaneity throughout the set was a privilege to see for someone who has seen a number of Green Day shows that are (understandably) more formulated on a full tour. The unpredictability of this kind of show adds another dimension of excitement and anticipation to the whole thing, and I think that works for the band as much as the on-looking crowd. Another great example of this was when Billie Joe called for Jeff Matika to come to the stage to take his guitar, allowing the band to step in to a Foxboro Hot Tubs world for a portion of the show. You could see Billie Joe's on stage persona turning in to that of The Reverend Strychnine Twitch, as the beers began to swash around the stage and crowd. A particular moment when he 'downed' some beer from his can and ragged his head and hair around took me back to scenes of the inaugural Foxboro Hot Tubs tour of May 2008 - the time I'd cite as the inspiration for all my subsequent trips across the world to see this band.

Album title track Stop, Drop and Roll was "covered" twice (once is never enough these days) and there was also a fantastic rendition of Teenagers From Mars. Around the same section of the show, the band also did their most recent cover favourite, Hybrid Moments, of the Misfits. Michael from Mystic Knights Of The Cobra, being a big Misfits fan I understand, came to the stage to take part in vocals for this. There was also an amusing moment when another member from MKOTC, Monica, tackled Billie Joe to the ground as he was singing and proceeded to take over singing rest of the song! It was a solid tackle that wouldn't have looked out of place on a Rugby/Football pitch! I was quite (gratefully) surprised to see that Billie Joe came out of it relatively unscathed!

The show certainly seemed to go on for longer than was planned (judging by the setlist I saw afterwards), but nobody was complaining. The band seemed to have free rein to play well into the night, and they took the opportunity to do so, to our delight. They continued to pepper the older material with a new song here and there, and I feel I cannot go on without mentioning Billie Joe's acoustic rendition of "Amy".

During (I think) the 2nd encore. Billie Joe was brought his black leather jacket, and after some shuffling around, he retrieved a piece of paper from an inside pocket. Handing the lyrics sheet to a member of the crowd in the front row, he proceeded to play a most beautiful rendition of the song, which I think we all know now to be a dedication to the recent passing away of British musician, Amy Winehouse.

I think the poignancy of this song lies in the underlying feeling of not personally knowing Amy, but yet wondering that he could've perhaps helped in some way if, "You wanna be a friend of mine." Of course, that is just my take on the song's possible meaning. The performance of it changed the whole atmosphere of the place for those few minutes of the song. It felt like everyone there had an emotional connection at that time and took it as a moment to reflect and remember a hugely gifted individual that was taken away well before her time.

All in all, it is up there with the best Green Day performances I've seen to date. Indeed, one of the great things about this band is that they are constantly looking to raise the bar and outdo themselves. Whether that's through their next album or their next show, or something else, they are not a band to rest on their laurels. And to me, that is what keeps them fresh and keeps me inspired to travel to see them anywhere in the world at any opportunity.

Already looking forward to the next one!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave your comments/questions. I may add a few more memories as they come to the end of this, so check back if you're interested in that!

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