When you mix a couple rock stars in their 40s with copious amounts of pyrotechnics, a few killer sax solos, the energy of DIY punks and a groundbreaking catalogue of music, you get the greatest band in the world playing music today. But before I dive into the details of Green Day’s set at Darien Lake, NY, we’re going to rewind to March of this year to the third Green Day show I had ever attended.

It’s the evening of Mar. 27, a Monday, and I’m making my way into Joe Louis Arena to wait for my friend to arrive while enjoying one of punk rock’s most important bands, Against Me!, open the show. After their set, my friend and I make our way into the crowd to find her (now our) friend, an incredibly special fan from the U.K. she had met a few years ago in Europe at a Green Day show.

This special fan is Fran Green — yes, her last name is literally Green — and her dedication to Green Day is on a newsworthy level (she’s actually been interviewed by the local news in Iowa). Fast forward to the morning of Aug. 26 to find me on my way to Darien Lake (just past Buffalo) with my friend and none other than Fran Green herself after spending four weeks in the United States following Green Day’s tour. That evening, I saw Green Day for my fourth time; for Fran, it was her 57th show.

Ms. Green’s dedication is a small component of what has made and kept Green Day so important over the years. Green Day is a band that unites people across continents, forms friendships and shapes adolescent identities. She’s not alone in her adoration, as Green Day continues to play stadiums and arenas to hundreds of thousands of fans; rising from modest roots in the East Bay punk scene, the band found quick success in cementing themselves in the annals of punk rock’s history. Having been formed over 30 years ago, the band hasn’t missed a beat in performance, performing with youthful energy entirely unique to Green Day within the arena rock scene.

Green Day’s performances have turned them into legend, striking awe into the crowd while retaining the down-to-earth relatability that is the basis of punk music. During “St. Jimmy,” an excited fan screamed from behind me, “I love you, St. Jimmy!” reflecting Armstrong’s mythological status as a musician, blurring the line between fictional and real hero. When Armstrong looks into the eyes of his fans, the connection is electric. Whether he’s playing to thousands — which I witnessed last fall at the Fillmore Detroit — or tens of thousands, the frontman exudes an aura of understanding, comfort and passion. After all these years, you just know he still gets it.

And this is Green Day’s real magic. They’re all about having fun (i.e. their outlandish attire during “King for a Day,” which included tutus, pirate hats and funky sunglasses), but they also don’t shy away from real life issues; Billie Joe isn’t afraid to say “This is for all the weirdos out there” or just a straight up “Fuck Trump.” I mentioned this in the past in my review of 2016’s comeback record Revolution Radio, but Green Day has a knack for mixing important personal and political notions into their music — something that translates into their performance.

As a now “seasoned” veteran of Green Day performances, my only real qualm with their set is the elaborately drawn out “King for a Day.” The song itself is fun and all, but the approximately 20-minute charade with inclusions of cover snippets from “Shout,” “Hey, Jude” and other rock classics starts to drag in comparison to their own music. They could easily fit four songs in that time frame, even treat the longtime fans to oldies like “One of My Lies” or “One for the Razorbacks” to supplement the usual staple “2,000 Light Years Away.”

Nonetheless, it’s a treat in itself to still have Green Day performing at the top of their game. With sets including classics from the ’90s to modern bangers off their most recent record, the band shows no signs of slowing in the near future. Having already garnered multiple generations of fans passed along from parent to child and friend to friend, Green Day is a band built upon emotional connection — a special connection that makes them one of the most important bands making music today.

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