The popular alternative (is that a thing?) radio station in the Bay Area is LIVE105—and as any good alternative station, they have to have a big festival around Christmastime. Enter: Not So Silent Night.
I’m used to my hometown station (97X in Tampa, FL) throwing free festivals with bands I love, so I don’t normally like to pay for events like these. So many bands I don’t like scattered with one or two I like? Meh. Better to wait for a headlining show.
UNLESS… that festival headliner is Green Day.
Or it’s a two-day event and the other headliner is Blink 182.
Okay, I’m sold.
The first night, Blink 182 was headlining. I love them, but not enough to camp out at the arena all day in hopes of getting barricade. Also barricade at an arena show with like 6 bands? Meh.
The only other band I wanted to see the first night was Jimmy Eat World, so I made sure to get there right before their set, skipping everyone else before them.
Weird thing that will actually be important later: As I was walking into the venue, I dropped my ticket. These two guys pointed it out to me, and asked me who I was most excited to see. We talked for a brief moment, but parted ways when we made it inside. They’ll reappear soon enough.
I came into the arena while the bands were switching. They had videos on the big screen advertising the morning show, Kevin Klein Live. LIVE105 is kinda weird. I can’t decide how I feel about Kevin Klein Live, and honestly the music choices annoy me about 50% of the time.
[EDIT 6/14/17: I’ve grown to love the morning show. Well, more of a love/hate relationship. Sometimes it’s really awful, but I love listening to my Uber passengers react to it in the mornings. It’s generally hilarious. I stand by what I said about the music, though.]
Jimmy Eat World
I always forget how much I love Jimmy Eat World until I see them live, and then they always blow me away. They’re amazing.
They opened with “Pain,” closed with “The Middle,” and played two of my favorites in between: “Bleed American” and “Sweetness.” Their setlist also included a Christmas song, because of course, “Last Christmas.”
I left the pit after their set with zero intentions of coming back in to watch Empire of the Sun. I’m not a fan. They’re one of the bands that typically annoys me when they play on the radio. It’s just not rock. So why?
It was pure chaos getting out of there. Then I ran into those two guys from earlier. One of them was holding two beers (why?) and they asked if I wanted to hang out with them. I’m alone, so why not? The guy with two beers asked me if I wanted any, and I responded honestly:
“You’re not getting this back.”
So I went back in the venue to watch Empire of the Sun with these complete strangers. (Just wait for it.)
Empire of the Sun
Just as I imagined, Empire of the Sun was really weird. They’re super poppy, and they wore these crazy outfits. They had dancers onstage wearing equally, if not moreso, crazy outfits. The whole thing was just very over the top and totally not my thing, but I will say that they objectively put on a very interesting live performance. Key word here is performance.
Here’s where the fun part with the two random dudes comes in:
I guess the one that I didn’t steal the beer from already had two girls “lined up” for them inside the venue… for exactly what you think I’m referring to. Yeah.
Well then I showed up and the one with the two beers changed his mind. Why go for the easy target when there’s someone new to chase? So he decided to try to win me over instead.
Little does this guy know… like anything about me.
Another of their friends was backstage with the bands. I have no idea how he had access, but I guess he promised these two four backstage passes of their own.
Four passes, five of us.
Guess who not only got one of them, but also kept it to try to use the next night? Ya know, when my all time favorite band is headlining? Yep. I told you they would be important to the story.
And I am the farthest thing from an easy target. I literally used this guy for his beer and backstage pass and was not even shy about it. It’s not my fault that he thought he could change my mind and get me to sleep with him. Doesn’t work that way. I’m here for the music, not a hookup. Sorry not sorry.
Backstage passes in hand, we went sidestage with the LIVE105 crew to watch Blink 182. This is my first time ever seeing them live, mind you, and it’s sidestage in an arena. I’m okay with this.
And they were SO GOOD. I’m so glad I finally got to see them live.
It was a little weird seeing them with Matt Skiba, though, to be completely honest. I like him in the band and I like the new music they’ve put out with him, but he didn’t even try to sound like Tom DeLonge. Songs like “I Miss You” without the signature whine were just…weird.
They followed Jimmy Eat World’s lead and played a Christmas song of their own, “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas.” That’s a really funny song, and it was awesome hearing it live.
They also played one called “Happy Holidays, You Bastard,” which I was not familiar with. It’s a micro-song, clocking in at only 45 seconds long.
Then they left the stage, only to come back to announce that they were contractually obligated to encore. Naturally. And there was confetti! Yay!
Rather than try to fight the crowd to leave the arena in chaos again, we took the smart route and left through the backstage area. I might have run into Mark Hoppus. Amazing.
My favorite day as always, Green Day day! I had a small group of Idiots joining me at this one.
I met up with Marnie in the city before we headed over to Oakland where we met with Kairi and Shar (and Shar’s daughter, Abigail) at Mike Dirnt’s restaurant, Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe. It’s not an Idiot reunion in the Bay without Rudy’s.
There was already a line to get into Oracle Arena when we arrived, but it wasn’t a huge deal because I wasn’t expecting barricade for this show anyway. But naturally, Marnie and Abigail and I snuck our way in to about the second row regardless.
But that was unpleasant. We got progressively more squished after each band that went on. I hate arenas.
I mostly complained the entire night. I was uncomfortable and I didn’t really like any of the bands, but I stuck it out with them because I wanted to be in the front for Green Day for at least a song or two.
Catfish and the Bottlemen were on the lineup, but dropped out at the last second. Last second as in we were inside the arena when we realized they weren’t playing anymore.
Day Wave is a local band out of Oakland, so they were added on to the lineup to make up the time. They played first and we assumed they’ve probably never played for an audience this huge before.
K.Flay is another Bay Area native, but I know my sister’s heard of her and she lives in Florida. She reminded me of a more rock Lana del Ray. I wasn’t a huge fan, but she seemed cool enough. I appreciated her dancing.
An opposing viewpoint, however: Shar fell in love with K.Flay at this show.
The Head and the Heart
There was a girl who sang with the Head and the Heart who had a super great voice. She was my favorite part of their performance, but I didn’t really like much else.
Bastille’s pretty cool. I do like them. But watching from the second row was a little tough. Their light show was kinda painful to watch from that close up.
Speaking of it being painful to watch from that close up…
The shoving got so bad when Green Day started that I could not take it. This is my favorite band and I’m still miserable from where I’m watching them. So I had to cut my losses and give up, leaving my spot during “American Idiot.”
But even getting through the crowd was ridiculous. I was trying to move backwards, but people still wouldn’t let me move. I was getting my hair ripped out and my clothes ripped off and I was trying to get OUT of the crowd. What the hell?
My first instinct was to look for a mosh pit. That’s my go-to when I can’t deal with the front because you can actually take a step back and breathe in the pit when you need to. But I couldn’t even find a pit. It was nuts.
Where am I.
Festival-type shows are weird, dude.
So I ended up by the side barricade and flashed my guest pass from the night before. I noticed it wasn’t the same color as this show’s pass, but the security guard didn’t, so he let me through.
I finally had room to breathe! And dance! And see the stage!
I’m watching my all time favorite band from sidestage. How cool is that.
This wasn’t too long after the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, so Billie Joe dedicated “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” to all the freaks and weirdos in the Bay. I almost cried. It was beautiful. And it’s just another reminder of why I moved to the Bay in the first place. I’m one of the freaks and weirdos and this place feels like home. He talked about how important affordable housing is for artists, because we can’t afford to lose them.
When you’ve seen Green Day live a thousand times, you know their routines. One of the usual acts is calling a fan up onstage to sing “Longview.”
But sometimes the fans take control of the situation and change things up a bit.
Billie chose a kid to join him onstage, and rather than sing, he said he could play it on guitar. So Billie gave him a guitar to play and he did it.
Then the kid said he could play more than just “Longview.” Billie asked him what he wanted to play. “J.A.R.” So breaking from the setlist, they played it.
After his few minutes of stardom were over, Billie told him he got to keep the guitar. He must have some pretty good relationships with whoever he gets his guitars from, but I’m sure he made that kid’s year.
The lack of comfort I underwent all day finally paid off, because I just love Green Day SO MUCH. I went from being miserable to completely forgetting everything and having an amazing night. They’re one of the few, if not only, bands that have that power over me, and it’s wonderful.
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
We thought they were supposed to play a 90 min. set, but after an hour they left the stage and didn’t come back. I guess unlike Blink 182, they weren’t under contract to have an encore. Boo.
There’s really nowhere else to go at this point, and I’m not about to fight my way back through that crowd, so I take my incorrect pass backstage and hope for the best. Billie’s bodyguard Eddie, who I’m sure recognizes my face after how many shows I’ve spent in the front row now, saw me and asked for my credentials. I flashed him my pass and he didn’t question me.
Seriously?! Is this happening?
But I was afraid to wander too much because even if everyone else thought I belonged there, I knew I didn’t. And it’s not like I could just walk in Green Day’s dressing room without being noticed. So I just found a bathroom away from the crowds of people and then tried to make my way out of the rather ginormous venue.
I did see Green Day’s production room, however. I also walked right past Tre Cool’s wife Sara Rose, but I didn’t want to bother her.
A few more times I was scared I would be caught as a fraud wandering backstage, but no one questioned me all night. One of the security guards struck up a conversation with me because I was wearing a Gilman t-shirt and he said he’s from Berkeley, so we bonded over that.
Then as I was struggling to find an exit, I asked another security guard for directions. First he told me I’m definitely not in the right place because I shouldn’t be backstage, but again, I flashed that pass from the night before and he promptly apologized and then overcompensated for accusing me of being where I shouldn’t be (although I really shouldn’t be there) by walking me through the entire building to the exit nearest the train station so I could meet up with Marnie there.
Holy. Crap. What a night.
I think there are two takeaway lessons from Not So Silent Night:
1) Always use boys who can get you free things like beer and backstage passes. You don’t have to go home with them, but they won’t know that when you take their stuff, and sometimes that leads to a killer view of your favorite band.
2) Avoid radio station festivals. Overall, they’re just no bueno.
And I’ll leave you with this: