Green Day Pop Up at the Echoplex

Photos by Greg Schneider

Since the release of their third album, Dookie, in 1994, Green Day have arguably been the most popular punk band on the planet. So if you didn't catch them during the 924 Gilman Street days, the opportunities to see Green Day in venues that aren't enormous have been extremely rare.

As a result, it's been tough for many to view Green Day as a punk band at all, so much as an arena rock outfit. A really fucking good one, armed with a ton of rapid-fire, catchy tunes. But a festival-headlining arena rock outfit all the same. So this Hella Tiny Tour of smaller venues, which already saw them play the House of Blues in Anaheim in March, is priceless because we get to see Green Day in an environment where, to be completely honest, they thrive. It's like they're still in the Kerplunk era, fighting for their lives. The youthful energy is there in mountains -- snotty, joyful and very punk!

These guys connect with their crowd like few others. Peers such as the Offspring are full of on-stage banter, but Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool make it their business to make every single person in the Echoplex feel like they're a bonafide part of the show. Green Day does that even when they're playing an enormodome, as they will this summer when they play the SoFi Stadium with the Smashing Pumpkins, Rancid, and the Linda Lindas. But it hits so much more intensely in a relatively intimate room.

All of these shows -- the Hella Tiny ones and the big gigs that will follow -- are a three-part celebration. Dookie is 30 years old, the American Idiot album is 20 years old, and they have a new album too -- Saviors was released in January.

So at the Echoplex we got both Dookie and American Idiot played in their entirety, plus a handful from Saviors. Each and every song sounded glorious in this environment. Dookie classics including (but not limited to) "Longview" and "Basket Case" allow us to imagine for a moment that we're catching this superb band in the moments before they explode onto the global stages.

The likes of "American Idiot" and "Jesus of Suburbia" prove that, even when the band had achieved insane levels of success, they were at their peak when it came to socially conscious, intelligent and politically aware songwriting.

And the new songs, particularly "The American Dream is Killing Me," are clear evidence that this timeless, apparently ageless band are still filled with fire, energy, and tunes.

"We can't wait to see you this summer," Armstrong says as the band leaves the stage. Ditto, fellas.

Green Day Setlist Echoplex, Los Angeles, CA, USA 2024, Hella Tiny Tour