operation: no control

One second, there was the sound of Green Day fans conversing. The next second, there was the sound of guitars piercing through the stale arena air. 

One second, there was calmness. The next second, there was the tension that comes with listening to a new band for the first time. 

One second, there was nothing. The next second, there was Catfish and the Bottlemen. 

Most people on the floor had no idea who the four men on stage were.

Of course, I said most.

From my spot on the floor, I noticed one person other than myself singing along to “Cocoon”, the first song The Bottlemen played. 

But the lack of prior knowledge didn’t seem to faze front man Van McCann. His ever powerful voice cut through the tension like a knife. 

Things got incredibly impressive during the track “Soundcheck,” in which an insane guitar solo is featured. McCann humbly called out to the crowd to introduce the band’s lead guitarist:

“Kansas City, Johnny Bond!” 

McCann and Bond’s playing sounded beautiful together; a match made in heaven. 

The Bottlemen’s set was rather succinct with no banter between tracks. McCann simply introduced his band before calling out the name of the song to be played next. While a fan (like myself) would have loved to see a bit more of their personality during their show, this simplicity was necessary for those who were only hearing them for the first time.

It allowed people to have true respect for them. 

They let the music speak for them. 

The Bottlemen close every set with “Tyrants,” and this night was no exception. Drummer Bob Hall and bassist Benji Blakeway astounded the audience, steadily dragging the song to it’s hesitant end.

After their set, the crowd engaged in a group singing of “Bohemian Rhapsody” that was pure gold. It wasn’t long after that when Green Day made their appearance. 

“Know Your Enemy” was the first song, the whole crowd clapping along. A young boy was brought on stage to sing the bridge and dive afterwards. 

The pyro was felt by the entire audience, hot on my skin in the already blazing pit. Regardless, the energy was high. Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong had a water hose which he used several times to cool off his fans. Bassist Mike Dirnt took control of stage right, while Trè Cool held it down on the drums. The touring members also brought it, the arena coming to life with the sound of their instruments. 

“Holiday” had Armstrong leading his current trademark chant:

No racism, no sexism, and no homophobia.

The fan brought on stage during  “Longview” had no reservations about singing the racy song and getting the crowd excited in the process. 

While playing “Minority,” Armstrong was offered a pride flag, which he willingly accepted.

During Green Day’s Operation Ivy cover (“Knowledge”), a sixteen-year-old fan was brought up to play Billie’s guitar, which he then was allowed to keep. 

“Forever Now” was the final song before the encore, in which fan favorites were played. 

My entourage rocked out to “American Idiot,” while I screamed every lyric to “Jesus of Suburbia” with a woman I had never met before and will likely never see again. 

“21 Guns” and “Good Riddance” were the last songs, ending the show on a soft note. 

Fans grabbed handfuls of confetti (I have a bag of it along with touring guitarist and vocalist Jason White’s pick) and vacated the area. 

Leaving sweat, tears, and our voices behind, fans of Green Day and Catfish and the Bottlemen were awarded with an amazing show.

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