Lollapalooza: Green Day’s Metro aftershow a flashback to the songs, club gigs of the ’90s

‘Welcome to our little superspreader event,’ frontman Billie Joe Armstrong jokes at the joyful, tightly packed set.

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Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong listens to the crowd at Friday’s Green Day Lollapalooza aftershow at Metro.

Greg Schneider

Last week, Metro was feting its 40th birthday. This week, the venerable club did something it has never done in its history: hosted Green Day.

The surprise show — ahead of the rockers closing out Lollapalooza on Sunday — was announced Tuesday with tickets selling out in mere minutes the following day. The pandemonium hadn’t died down as the 11 p.m. showtime on Friday night neared. Metro posted on socials that “last three tickets” would be released at 8:30 p.m. and it was an online goose chase to get the golden tickets. Those who didn’t lined up on Clark Street with a hope and a prayer that anyone was selling a last-minute spot.

Green Day doesn’t do shows like this anymore — after 75 million albums sold, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Broadway, they’re more likely to fill Wrigley Field at this point in their career. But seeing them at Metro felt really right, a return to their gritty, plain jane punk rock roots in small clubs where you could still see the sweat on Billie Joe Armstrong’s face — or even catch some germs.

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Fans cheer Green Day at a tightly packed Lollapalooza aftershow Friday at Metro.

Greg Schneider

“Welcome to our little superspreader event,” the frontman joked, commenting on the wall-to-wall bodies that may have been the most packed Metro has ever been (even more so than Metallica’s rare appearance last fall). It should be said Metro abided by its vaccination requirement and encouraged masking for attendees.

Yet, the greatest-hits set did a great job of bringing people back to the good old days anyway — like grade school and high school old days. In the 90-minute performance, the band got through 25 of its best, with “Welcome to Paradise” and “Basket Case” eliciting full-on singalongs from more than a nostalgic few. Armstrong at one point even threw his mic in the crowd for a sweaty fan to take over. In the mix, there were also some “deep cuts,” including “Church on Sunday,” the happy reaction a testament to the fact that the room was filled with the diehards who were supposed to be there.

“I’m so glad we never broke up,” Armstrong said midway through the set, adding a comment about not being the casualty of another “insufferable band reunion.” Seeing the way he, drummer Tré Cool and bassist Mike Dirnt (along with added touring personnel) still work so well together and always bring an air of fun, even when discussing American politics, it’s like the last 30 years just passed right on by.

Playing well after midnight, there was no encore. Just a hearty goodbye. “We’re gonna remember this one forever,” said Armstrong. The feeling was definitely mutual.

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