The calendar’s date suggests it’s nearing the end of summer, but the temperature at Dodger Stadium last Friday night begged to differ as the Hella Mega Tour landed in the city of Angels.
It was another typical September night in Los Angeles, you know… traffic galore, warm temps and lots of people going from here to there. Getting to Chavez Ravine was nothing short of a journey in itself. Concertgoers were ready to trek any mountain to see the likes of The Interrupters, Weezer, Fall Out Boy and Green Day at this year’s Hella Mega Tour!
The thing about the Hella Mega Tour, The Hella Mega Tour is hitting all the stadiums and attracting some of the biggest crowds in recent memory. With the large crowds, come the headaches that come along with bigger than life shows. Aside traffic, some loud people who may have had one or two too many drinks.
The much anticipated and heralded tour drew a capacity crowd. From the moment the gates opened, fans rushed to get in. Everyone was looking for their seats and trying to get their drinks, food and merch before the music started.
Everyone anticipated there would be a cartoon-crazy crowd for this one. As a result, I was there early. I even got in line for some merch before the show started. While there, I got to chat with fans who were there from all parts of California and surrounding states. There were fans from the Midwest, East Coast and some traveled from across the pond. Each person had a different reason why they made the pilgrimage to Blue Heaven on Earth, but most were there for one band, Green Day.
Sometimes you get lucky and talk to fans who are straight shooters. I ran into a trio from Phoenix who were there for Green Day. It was a multi-generational family, Renee, Alyssa and Josh. We were waiting in line for what seemed like an eternity for merch. Renee made me laugh out loud as she yelled out to someone who seemed to be taking his time buying his merch. She yelled out what we were all thinking, “Get your shit and go!” That brought a little laughter to everyone in line. Truth is, the Phoenix contingent was very much looking forward to the show and loved the atmosphere.
By now the crowd was flowing into the stadium, and it was a sea of fans of all ages, all ethnicities and band preferences. While the sun was still in plain view, the 4th wave ska juggernauts took the stage. That’s right, the Interrupters hit the stage with their opening tune “A Friend Like Me,” and immediately people stood and were amazed by the energy and great sound from this band. The Bivona brothers (Kevin, Jesse and Justin) were in amplified form and their energy brought their music to a new level. Los Angeles is the bands hometown, the band made sure to remind everyone of that as lead singer, Aimee had impressed everyone, even those concertgoers who weren’t familiar with them.
As I stood by the stage taking in their performance, I overheard two concertgoers ask themselves a simple question… “Who the fuck is this and why don’t we know about them?” Clearly, The Interrupters opened eyes and ears for many, but their supporters were definitely in the house. Their fans cheered on to some of their favorites, like “Take Back the Power,” “She Got Arrested,” “Gave You Everything”, and their mega-hit “She’s Kerosene.” Sure, this band may not have the resume yet that the other bands do, but it’s likely The Interrupters proved to many that they may be headlining shows like this in the very near future.
As the sun was starting to lower, it was time for Weezer. By then, the crowd had ballooned out. Dodger Stadium was about three quarters full by then. For L.A., this was the first and biggest such event in the quasi-post-COVID era. The crowd was aware and masks were worn by most, but not all. Then, Weezer walked on stage.
In his traditional silly-uber-cool style, lead singer,Rivers Cuomo took the stage sporting a mullet, denim jeans, and a black leather jacket. His retro-cool vibe was perfect as they opened to their adoring fans with “Hero” and “Hash Pipe.” The stage set was very colorful with a multitude of speakers as a backdrop, and Weezer spelled out in drums in front of the drum kit. Fans sang along to every word of each of their favorite songs. It was like the soundtrack to a “best of radio” into “Beverly Hills,” “My Name is Jonas,” “Pork and Beans,” “All My Favorite Songs,” “Undone – The Sweater Song,” “Islands in the Sun,” “Africa (Toto cover),” “Say It Ain’t So,” and they closed to a rousing cheer from the Dodger Stadium crowd to “Buddy Holly.”
As the sun began to drop into the Pacific, Fall Out Boy was the next band up. By then, the stadium was nearing capacity. It was then that the magnitude of the night was starting to set in to everyone in attendance. It was crazy how deafening the crowd got as soon as the band took the stage. They opened to “The Phoenix,” which I’m sure put a smile on the face of Renee, Alyssa and Josh (The Phoenix contingent). Then, they went into overdrive as they belted out “Sugar, We’re Going Down.” The crowd lost its proverbial mind as you felt a seismic shake in the stadium. I don’t know if it measured on the Richter scale, but a combination of that electric sound in tandem with 50,000+ fans screaming made you feel the moment.
Fall Out Boy pulled out all the stops, including their flame-throwing guitar! The heat they brought was only equaled by the music. Songs like “Uma Thurman,” “Dance, Dance,” “A Little Less Sixteen Candles a Little More Touch Me,” “Thnks fr th Mmrs,” “This Ain’t a scene, It’s an Arms Race, sizzled in the heat and the crowd ate it up. The band was gracious, it was clear there was connection with the crowd, but lead singer Patrick Stump and bassist Pete Wentz egged the crowd on for Green Day throughout the their set. Then they ended with “Saturday” to the delight of the L.A. crowd.
“When I was a kid, I was always in a ton of trouble. I was that American Idiot Billie sang about. By the time I had my first kid, I knew I had to change my life. Green Day’s music captures so many of my teenage thoughts and emotions, I grew up with this band and their music. I love what they stand for, that’s why I’m here.”
Matt Daniels | Riverside, California
Even with a little time to breathe, fans didn’t move far from their seats. Instead, they were preparing for the main event. By now the sun melted and gave way to the night sky and it had a surreal number of twinkling stars. It was an absolutely perfect night weather-wise for a show. It was as if the music gods were looking down upon Dodger Stadium, ready to deliver us a moment in time we would not soon forget. As the lights dimmed and the music program began, the capacity crowd took a collective deep breath. The musical program kicked off with Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Then, the Green Day Bunny came out to entertain the crowd to the Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop!” By then, the crowd was in near cardiac arrest and ready to take it up a notch as Green Day opened with “American Idiot!’ With a kick-ass video program rolling, this animated feature came to life.
Lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong immediately began to commune with the crowd and encouraged everyone to put down their phones and just enjoy the moment we had together. This show was set for all types of Green Day fans, from the new to the loyal. They put on a good mix of more recent songs and classic tunes. With an “Ay-o” chant with the crowd `a la Freddie Mercury, everyone was singing along to every word of every single song – “Holiday,” “Know Your Enemy,” “Blvd. of Broken Dreams,” “Longview,” “Welcome to Paradise, “Hitchin’ a Ride,” before they did a very cool KISS cover of “Rock and Roll All Nite.”
Throughout the night Mike Dirnt was like a madman on stage running all over the place while Tre Cool was steady on the drum kit. As for Billie, well… Billie was Billie!
They continued with “When I Come Around,” “21 Guns,” “Minority,” and “Basket Case.” It was about that time the stadium became almost deafening. There was a guy standing next to me with his cell doing the video thing. All I could hear was him screaming out “UN-FUCKEN REAL” over and over and over again.
It was then that I looked behind me and saw the crowd, and it was like nothing I had ever seen before. (Well, once before at the Coliseum, but I’ll circle back to that). The crowd was out of control, screaming out the lyrics, and with their arms in the air. Words don’t do justice to seeing 55,000+ people losing their minds to a song. It was at that point that I knew this was a special moment in time. It was at that moment that it came to me, this must have been what it was like to be at Shea Stadium in 1965 when The Beatles blew the roof off that place. Or when Elton John did the same at Dodger stadium in 1975. Or how about that time Rage Against the Machine set the Coliseum on fire back in 2011. It was one of those surreal moments… you know… something you just don’t see every day. All I thought to myself was “UN-FUCKEN REAL!”
Green Day closed out the show with “She,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” “Jesus of Suburbia” before they called it a night with “Good Riddance – Time of Your Life.” I think that was a perfect song to close out the show, sure… it wasn’t a “Seinfeld” episode, but it was one of the greatest nights in L.A. concert history that we have seen in a very long time. Fireworks were set off to end the show in more ways than one. There are only two words to describe this show … “UN- FUCKEN REAL!” Or is that three?
2022 has more Hella Mega shows coming. So far the shows are across the pond, but keep an eye on their website because you just never know!