Mike Lebischak is one heck of a talented guy. He hosts Houston Game Day on ESPN 97.5 in addition to doing a great many things at Gow Media. This is his first offering for the site. Follow him on Twitter @shock975
By MIKE LEBISCHAK
Cool: Taking my two oldest sons, ages sixteen and thirteen, to see Green Day at Toyota Center this past Sunday night.
Uncool: You’ll note in the previous entry the words “Sunday” and “night.” When I realized this past week that the show was Sunday night I knew that on some level I was doomed. Suddenly I felt as if I needed to start campaigns for matinee shows, because at 45 years-old…
Cool: With all that said, to be able to take my kids to see a band that gained true prominence nearly a quarter of a century ago was pretty special. The wife and I have always taken special care to not let the kiddoes lock in too much on one genre of music. They’re just as likely to be playing the latest Chance The Rapper as they are old Paul Simon records. From Radiohead to Kanye, Stevie to Springsteen, they dig it all, or are at least willing to explore.
Uncool: Seeing two women try on multiple tour t-shirts at the merch table with a shit-ton of people in line. What the Hell? What ever happened to plunking down your $25, grabbing your new gear and moving on? These two literally tried on tees and tank tops and had to check each other out in them before deciding? Also, Dads in line taking a picture of the merch so they could text them to the kids waiting back in the seats, then waiting for the kids to make the choice. Some people just suck, and they’re on the road to ruining everything.
Cool: I believe I’ve buried the lede here. Despite whatever any Van Dyke-stroking music snob would say about Green Day (Punk? Not punk?), these guys can friggin’ play. From the searing opener Know Your Enemy through a collage of nearly all their hits, a handful of tracks from their most recent LP Revolution Radio to frontman Billie Joe Armstrong closing out the night with a solo acoustic Good Riddance, they were non-stop and turned up to eleven. Now in their mid-40’s, the trio and their touring bandmates were 100% committed on a rainy Sunday night in Houston. Armstrong & Co. hit the Toyota Center stage armed with all the requisite rock star poses and call-and-response bits, but connected with the arena audience in a way most can only manage in an intimate club setting.
Uncool: As soon as the house lights went dark, thousands of camera phones lit up as many, many, MANY in the audience were determined to record parts of if not ALL of the show no doubt to preserve memories.
Cool: Armstrong urging the crowd, very politely, to put the phones away: “If you’re looking at me through the lens of a camera phone then you’re not looking at me.” It would be silly if not impossible to attempt to preach to a paying crowd armed with the right technology to not record the show. Billie Joe’s point of simply enjoying the moment was spot on and unfortunately still lost on too many in attendance. Plus, air guitar is nearly impossible with an iPhone 6 Plus in your windmilling hand.
Uncool: Parents dropping kids off at the arena. I could spend an hour on this. From infinite backs-to-the-stage, rock-horns-in-the-air selfies to kids just not knowing how to act in public, it was a series of unwelcome distractions.
Cool: Parents with their kids at a rock show. Maybe the coolest part of the night. To see moms and daughters dressed up and made up in the same punky gear, to a grandmother wearing fake tattoo sleeves as she accompanied her sons and grandsons and so many other awesome sites made all worth dealing with the bullshit. One Dad and his five or six year-old son wore the same feau-hawks, plaid shorts and tour tees.
Some people would say sports brings families together like nothing else, but I would say in my house it’s music, and I felt vindicated in that belief too many times last night to count.
At the end of the night, this was one of the coolest things I’ve ever gotten to do with my kids. Over 25 years ago I bought my Dad and I tickets to see commercial peak-era R.E.M in Landover, MD and felt the same way about that night. The band at that point were more in a short-lived punk/glam mode than they were the jangly Byrds-esque outfit my Dad had always appreciated, but he still loved every note. All these years later, I’ve gotten to do it all over again but with my own children in tow.
The best part is that there’s always another show coming: jazz fusion/electronica bassist Thundercat brings his band to Warehouse Live this weekend, and we’re looking at seeing indie duo Foxygen, Chance The Rapper, noise-rock stalwarts Pixies – perhaps Green Day when they hit Austin this Fall.
Cheaper than a ballgame with more priceless lasting memories.
Find a show, pack up the kids and go. Get ‘em a concert shirt as a badge of honor and for a tangible memory. And leave the smartphone in your pocket.