Welcome to Paradise

Green Day at the Hatch Shell, September, 1994
By MATT ASHARE  |  October 25, 2006

This article originally appeared in the September 16, 1994 issue of the Boston Phoenix.

The prospect of a punk-rock concert at the same Hatch Shell where my parents have seen the Boston Pops was exciting. It was also troubling, because it would exemplify the inherent friction of a punk band entering the mainstream. Rock and roll may have started as teen rebellion, but it was co-opted and tamed by the power that be before I was old enough to sing along to “Puff the Magic Dragon.”

But punk – a loud, fast, and ticked-off rebellion – has managed to survive on the fringe, always maintaining its anti-authoritarian spirit. In other words, there was no way Green Day’s 21-year-old frontman Billie Joe was going to show or encourage any respect for the police or the barricades.

Shortly after 7p.m., the Meices took the stage and the moshing started in earnest. Little eddies of aggression formed, and an occasional casualty – often a younger kid scared and tired by the crush of the crowd – was lifted over the barricades that separated the general audience from the VIP area. The Meices beckoned the crowd to “come on down” into the large, cordoned-off space before the stage, but nobody took them up on the offer. If Billie Joe had asked, well…

Up front, it was tense. Further back, the audience was having a peaceful concert. The police seemed both bemused and annoyed by the crowd. The security personnel were struggling with the barricades, but they were good-natured. One guard handed out sodas to kids up front. And kids they were: one front-row viewer with his face painted green was only 12; a little girl, who looked eight or nine, was standing with her chin on a barrier and her hands over her ears.

The barricades were reinforced, and the “two steps back” requests continued. There was no mistaking the sarcasm in Billie Joe’s voice when he came out a few minutes later and told everyone to “calm down so the show can go on.” As the sun set, it got easier for kids to sneak into the VIP area. And considering the conditions behind the barricades, I’d say it was hard to blame them.

At 8 p.m., a voice came over the speakers from the soundboard area: “the barricades are coming down, I need help out here.” A dozen security guards left their posts and ventured out through the crowd, leaving unguarded gaps around the stage. It was no longer a question of whether barriers would break: it was a matter of when.

I’ve never been to a general-admission concert at which the front row was comfortable, but everybody nearest the stage at this show was trapped between Storrow Drive, the Charles River, and the barricades – more prisoners than concert-goers.

Green Day took the stage at 8:15 p.m. Billie Joe hit the first three chords of “Welcome to Paradise” and the crowd surged into the VIP areas on either side of the stage, swarming the giant Phoenix/’FNX balloon. “Tear that fucker down,” Billie Joe shouted before the next song. The crowd complied.

1  |  2  |   next >
  Topics: Flashbacks , Entertainment, Music, Pop and Rock Music,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY MATT ASHARE
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   SEND IN THE CLOWNS  |  July 02, 2009
    The New York Post got to resurrect its priceless "Wacko Jacko" headline. Barbara Walters scored Super Bowl-level ratings without having to lift a pretty little finger. And Michael Jackson, well, no matter how you slice it, he got screwed royally.
  •   ARRESTING DEVELOPMENTS  |  September 16, 2008
    Lack of talent, charisma, and/or personality can prevent a good band from achieving greatness — but too much of a good thing can also be a problem.
  •   ROCK THERAPIES  |  July 22, 2008
    A little over four years ago, the Boston music scene lost one of its cuter couples when singer-songwriter Blake Hazard and guitarist/producer John Dragonetti left town for LA.
  •   FORTUNATE ONE  |  July 07, 2008
    It was no surprise to find Chris Brokaw in Hawaii last week, just two Saturdays before he’s due back in Cambridge to pull a double shift upstairs at the Middle East.
  •   BOSTON MUSIC NEWS: JULY 11, 2008  |  July 08, 2008
    The New Year, a band the Kadanes started with Chris Brokaw on drums a decade ago, are still a going concern.

 See all articles by: MATT ASHARE