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Green Day: Awesome as F**k(2011)
Green Day recorded every show on the 21st Century Breakdown tour. When it concluded, the band members, singer-guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tre Cool, sifted through the audio to deliver the best performances from their shows around the world. The footage on the bonus Blu-Ray was shot at the band’s show in Tokyo, Japan. The package includes Green Day’s biggest hits and fan favorites, including “21 Guns,” “American Idiot,” “When I Come Around,” and “Good Riddance.”
For more about Green Day: Awesome as F**k and the Green Day: Awesome as F**k Blu-ray release, see Green Day: Awesome as F**k Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on March 24, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Green Day: Awesome as F**k Blu-ray Review
Does the Parental Advisory sticker cover the title?
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, March 24, 2011
"You call that music?"
How many of us remember the disparaging, withering comments from our parents as we listened to our favorite bands growing up? My sisters, who are quite a bit older than I am, were just the right age to be ripe for Beatlemania, and I still remember that when I was young and they were still listening to old Beatles records, my mother would storm around the house complaining about the "noise" coming from the record player. Of course now The Beatles' music seems positively quaint, well constructed pop that barely hints of how "dangerous" it all sounded way back in the Dark Ages of the 1960's and 1970's. I had rather odd tastes as I moved into my teens, preferring Brazilian jazz to most American pop and rock artists, so I didn't quite invite my parents' wrath the way my sisters had, but I still invited scorn occasionally, including ironically enough with an old 45 I had found of The Beatles' "Revolution", which my mother simply couldn't abide. I've tried to be a little more tolerant as my own sons have entered their teen years, and I've been for the most part pleasantly surprised by the many bands and other musicians they've brought to my attention (though truth be told, I have little tolerance for a lot of rap and hip hop music to this day). Somehow I had never really paid attention to Green Day in my young adult days, but my eldest son discovered them as (this may strike some of you as funny) a "retro" band that a lot of his buddies were listening to in order to try to "catch up" on "oldies" music. I was immediately struck both by Green Day's often beautifully constructed ballads, as well as their more belligerent rock numbers.
As may or may not be indicated by the Broadway opening of the Green Day musical, American Idiot, Green Day has achieved a mainstream success that has largely eluded a lot of proto-indie and alternative bands over the past couple of decades. This is even more impressive when one considers the fact that Green Day actually was born out of a sort of neo-punk movement that held sway in west coast music circles especially as the 1980's came to a close. This "revisiting" of a genre then thought of as probably just as quaint as we see The Beatles from the vantage point of 50 years on makes Green Day's ultimate ascension into rock superstardom not just unexpected, but perhaps more than a little fortuitous. In fact what becomes fairly apparent throughout this concert is how quickly the outcast punk can become the mainstream superstar. While there's energy to spare in this often blistering compilation from Tokyo, there's at least as much stagecraft and standard pop song architecture as there is anything approaching true punk rage. Is Green Day a victim of its own success? Maybe—at least for those who pine for the days of angry young men who were out, to paraphrase this new release's title, to f**k The Man. Now that four letter word has become something more like a marketing ploy.
All of this is not to say this concert isn't enjoyable, even if it's surprisingly slick at times. Billie Joe, Mike and Tre play and sing with passion and precision and they are obviously having a great time playing before a huge and adoring throng in Tokyo. The film of the concert leaves something to be desired, however. With a sometimes maddening array of quick cuts and different post-processes applied to various shots, and with unnecessary interstitials that cut away from the actual concert experience, Awesome as F**k may strike some as not necessarily living up to its title. A lot of the handheld work is also pretty sloppy, either drifting away from the band member it should be focusing on or, even worse, suddenly lurching into a new view as if the cameraman had been hoisted into a mosh pit unawares.
What often sets Green Day apart from more run of the mill Top 40 hitmakers, proto-punk or otherwise, is its pointed critique of modern culture, which it frequently casts in the musical vocabulary of three chord rock and roll. Songs like "Jesus of Suburbia" and even "American Idiot" (strangely not included on this release, along with a few other favorites that some fans will probably be upset about) show the band to be observant, if not really all that radical, analysts of the current zeitgeist. What also makes Green Day such an enjoyable sonic experience is the pummeling approach of the rhythm arrangements, something that comes through loud and clear on this Blu-ray.
Unfortunately, too often this concert tips over into arena clichés, with Billie Joe actually pointing the microphone out at the audience and having them "take over" on snippets of songs. The guys also run around and jump up and down with rockstar abandon, and by the time they launch into The Who's "My Generation", you start to wonder if they're going to bash a few guitars into smithereens just to prove their rock street cred. With the seizure inducing light show playing out against occasional overwhelming eruptions of pyrotechnics, the more jaded erstwhile once and future punk may wonder if Green Day has become the very machine they once raged against.
Green Day's set includes:
21st Century Breakdown
Know Your Enemy
East Jesus Nowhere
Viva La Gloria
Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Geek Stink Breath
Welcome to Paradise
When I Come Around
Jesus of Suburbia
Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)
Green Day: Awesome as F**k Blu-ray, Video Quality
Green Day: Awesome as F**k debuts on Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1080i transfer in 1.78:1 which will probably have most fans simply saying, "F**k." This is unfortunately one of the shoddier, softer looking hi-def concert releases in recent memory. Some of this can be attributed to the radically different post-processing techniques applied to the footage, which results in everything from overblown contrast in black and white graininess to the odd decision to feature ghostly (and ghastly) green, purple and blue lighting schemes a lot of the time that make Billie Joe resemble a zombie at times. But even that can't really account for the mushy soft image and lack of fine detail which is omnipresent on this release. Some of the midrange shots are actually shocking in terms of the lack of detail—faces simply dissolve into white blobs of nothingness and even instruments seem to be nothing much more than flashes of color and movement. Occasionally close-ups reveal something at least resembling a decent hi-def image, but there is such rampant blooming in a lot of these shots that those moments are few and far between.
Green Day: Awesome as F**k Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Luckily, Green Day: Awesome as F**k's two lossless tracks, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and an LPCM 2.0, are much better, in fact nearly faultless, and that's good news, as most fans are probably going to flock to this release for the music rather than the visuals. Green Day isn't an especially nuanced band in terms of interior lines or contrapuntal genius, but their extremely well crafted songs, which typically feature massed chord voicings and a really propulsive rhythm section, shine through on the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. The instruments are nicely positioned around the soundfield, and Billie Joe's plaintive vocals ring through loud and clear. The acoustic guitar work is very nicely reproduced, without any tinniness or brittleness, and the electric instruments sound fantastic. One element which may bother some listeners is the omnipresent and almost palpable kick drum, which pummels the ears with shockwaves of air pressure. But for other headbangers, that will probably be a big recommendation for this release.
Green Day: Awesome as F**k Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
One brief bonus song, Cigarettes and Valentines (3:03) is the only bonus on the Blu-ray itself. The release also comes with a CD.
Green Day: Awesome as F**k Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
For guys who at least initially defined themselves as (neo) punks, Green Day are surprisingly melodic and thoughtful songwriters. Even in their most blistering rock numbers, they show an intelligent command of songcraft and that propensity is firmly on display in this Tokyo concert. Billie Joe has an incredible and unmistakable rapport with this Tokyo audience, and he mines it for all its worth. The band sounds absolutely fantastic and proves that as a live performing unit they're still at the top of their game. This actual film, however, leaves something (maybe even a lot) to be desired, with pretty awful camerawork and a really disappointing image quality. The soundtracks, however, are fantastic sounding, so this may be a case where you'll simply want to play this as an audio Blu-ray and leave well enough alone. One way or the other, fans may want to check this out as a rental before committing to a purchase.
And just in case you were wondering, the Parental Advisory sticker does not in fact cover the title of this new release.
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