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One thing is absolutely certain: Green Day and its fan base, in a joint effort, have perfected the art of the surprise show (alternatively called the secret show). There are plenty of bands out there who, for reasons beyond their control, could not pull off a surprise show. Green Day fans are an interesting breed; they are willing to travel across the country or even across the world at the post of a tweet to support their band. The same commitment is a rare thing among other fans.

Surprise shows are a great thing for Green Day as well. They serve as a vehicle to test new material, or get back into the swing of performing after a long hiatus. Furthermore, the fair weather fans who'd recognize hearing "Basket Case," "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)," and "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" at most are weeded out at surprise shows. The fact that everyone in the room wouldn't rather be anywhere else in the world adds an unspoken type of (dare I say) magic that makes these intimate celebrations as special as they are. This editorial list contains my top five surprise shows, in terms of how much they meant to Green Day's music and career as a whole.

5. CBGB Studio: New York, New York, United States; April 26, 2001

[pic=CBGB's: No real photos from show, see video!]092213_rsz_screen_shot_2013-09-22_at_94950_pm.jpg[/pic]Green Day walked into the hallowed punk shrine that is CBGB's not knowing they'd play that night. Two days before, Green Day had received eight awards at the California Music Awards, and then travelled to New York City for appearances with Howard Stern and David Letterman. The band was at CBGB's to watch longtime friend (and ex-D Generation member) Jesse Malin's new band, Bellevue.

Over the course of the night, Billie Joe, Mike, and Tré consumed a fair amount of alcohol, and decided that they wanted to perform at the historic club. After the last band of the night had finished their set, Green Day took the stage and played 12 songs (plus covers and requests) on borrowed instruments. The impromptu gig finished sometime after 2:00 A.M. Bands such as The Ramones, The Talking Heads, The Cars, Iggy Pop, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and Blondie all played at CBGB's in their infancy. The Ramones especially have always been adored publicly by the band. It was only fitting that Green Day, a band who never fails to acknowledge and pay respects to its roots, should perform on the very stage which spawned them.

Watch a performance of "Going to Pasalacqua" from this show

View setlist, show info, and photos from this show.

4. Reading Festival: Reading, England; August 25, 2012

[pic=Reading: The early crowd definitely got what they came for.]092213_rsz_2012greendayreading02satrj250812.jpg[/pic]For a few weeks prior to the festival, rumors had been swirling that Green Day planned to make an unannounced appearance at Reading. The band was vehemently and rigorously promoting their upcoming trilogy, ¡UNO!, ¡DOS!, and ¡TRÉ!. In England for a string of interviews and appearances, Billie Joe, Mike, and Tré went on the air with Zane Lowe of BBC Radio 1 for an interview that promptly strayed from convention. The band ended up leaking parts of almost 10 unreleased songs from Bille Joe's iPhone, and Billie Joe dropped a very obvious hint about playing at Reading later that week.

On the morning of the festival, Billie Joe tweeted "Green day - READING FESTIVAL CONFIRMED!! On stage in 45 minutes! In the NME / RADIO 1 tent. 11am!! Be there!" Fans rushed to the stage in such mass that the tent was sealed off, with the performance being broadcast on giant screens both outside and at the main stage. While it was rumored that Green Day would plow through all of Dookie, they ended up cramming 14 of their biggest hits into the strict time allotment of one hour. The show was a huge success, but served as a prime example of the rushed and furious lifestyle that lead to Billie Joe's sudden fall-out only one month later.

Watch a performance of "Oh Love" from this show

[url=]View setlist, show info, and photos from this show.[/url]

3. The Independent: San Francisco, California, United States; April 7, 2009

[pic=Independent: All of 21CB...a lot to take in! (Credit: Tim and Trudy)]092213_rsz_3426084082_f8d0f184b8_z.jpg[/pic]In April 2009, the world was preparing to hear how Green Day would follow-up their 2004 mega-hit album, American Idiot, and the five-year break from Green Day that followed. At that point, fans had the titles of the new album (21st Century Breakdown) and its three acts (Heroes and Cons, Charlatans and Saints, Horseshoes and Handgrenades), a release date, a teaser trailer, and a snippet of first single "Know Your Enemy," aired during an NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game.

On April 7, an email was sent out that Green Day would be playing the 500-capacity Independent music club that same night. Some lucky fans were treated to a massive 33-song set, including a number of live rarities, and all of then-unreleased 21st Century Breakdown. Fans were given a free program with lyrics to all the new material, and were encouraged to sing along. Those who attended called the show "an open rehearsal," and noted that the band gave each other high-fives and fist-bumps after successfully finishing some of the new songs! This surprise show, the first of four pre-21CB shows in the US, proved that Green Day was capable of responding to American Idiot, and they were doing it in a very big way.

Watch a performance of "Viva La Gloria" from this show

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2. Tiki Bar: Costa Mesa, California, United States; August 11, 2011

[pic=Tiki Bar: The band brought their own flags from their studio space.]092213_rsz_tiki_bar-9.jpg[/pic]This surprise show stands out from the others in that there was absolutely nothing going on in the Green Day world until it was announced a day in advance. Absolutely nothing. No album announcements, no promotion, no performances...not even any rumors. It was completely spontaneous, true Green Day fashion. However, the band had been writing and rehearsing the whole time. With at least two albums' worth of songs under their belts, Green Day were craving feedback. In their 2013 documentary, ¡CUATRO!, a scene shot the week before the surprise show tells all: the entire band is sitting in a room holding an impromptu conference. Mike and Billie Joe express their worries about playing new songs and having them recorded/leaked by cell phones. Mike: "Are we willing to just say 'Fuck it'?" Billie: "That's what we would have to do...I've definitely told people to put their fucking phones away and they have...I'm not going to worry too much about a cell phone camera." Mike: "Well, there's nothing stifled so far on this record, so fuck it." A pause, then Billie Joe chimes in: "What are we doing next week?"

Tickets were some of the hardest to get for any Green Day performance...ever. Everyone wanted to see why the previously idle band had set up this impromptu, random gig. The fans who did get in were absolutely floored: 19 brand-new songs, and an encore of 10 fan-favorites, played even after Billie Joe declared, "New shit only tonight...fuck the past." After this surprise show and a handful of others (which yielded a few horrible-quality recordings of new songs), and the announcement of the trilogy in the first part of 2012, Green Day fans were more confident than ever. These songs made it seem as if anything was possible...maybe even world takeover #3.

Watch a performance of "Stray Heart" from this show

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1. 924 Gilman Street: Berkeley, California, United States; September 16, 2001

[pic=Gilman: Lots of stunned young punks! (Credit: Frank Chen)]092213_rsz_2182747510_362a6d9809_o.jpg[/pic]This show made the top of my list due mainly to the back-history between Green Day and Gilman. Most of you know that Green Day (as Sweet Children early on) played some of their first and finest shows at Gilman in the late '80s and early '90s. The venue was a heaven-sent gem in the East Bay, giving up-and-coming punk bands a place to be heard, and punk-loving youth a safe place to hear them. There was only one requirement: no band that had signed to a major record label was allowed to perform, in order to keep all things corporate out of the Gilman scene. When Green Day signed their first major-label deal with Reprise Records ahead of Dookie, they were barred from returning to Gilman. The place that fostered their growth since they were young teenagers had shut them out: a harsh fate to endure.

In 2001, after watching a set by The Influents, Green Day broke Gilman law and took the stage without permission. They played a 6 song set, 4 of which had been played in the band's infancy at Gilman. The band borrowed instruments, as a tiny, stunned crowd went nuts. Green Day's return to Gilman had to have been an experience emotional beyond words for Billie Joe, Mike, and Tré; a chance to bury the demons that had haunted them since 1993.

Watch a performance of "Only of You" from this show

[url=]View setlist, show info, and photos from this show.[/url]
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