Live 105 Not So Silent Night: San Francisco Civic Auditorium

Four Northern California bands covering the whole spectrum from sportz punk to sorry-ass rap/metal...

A long time ago, before the celebrity divorces and crap experimental albums, San Francisco radio station Live 105 used to drip with Britpop. Oasis and Blur rubbed shoulders with Pearl Jam and Pavement in a reasonable attempt at alternative pop radio. Times have changed, and Live 105’s current playlist

reflects white America’s shrinking musical horizons. So tonight’s line-up is, like, really eclectic: four Northern California bands covering the whole spectrum from sportz punk to sorry-ass rap/metal.

Openers A.F.I. are earnest Merchant Ivory period pieces from the same Berkeley punk scene as Rancid and Green Day. Respect for their principles and all that, but a couple of decent tunes would perform the same function as Helena Bonham Carter’s eyebrows and enable us to appreciate their craft a lot more.

Like most of the teenage audience, the bands are all from the suburbs originally, but it is only Sacramento’s Deftones who seem to be still out there. Green Day’s “Let’s form a band” bit from later in the evening works because of the obvious delight of the audience members selected to play onstage, and also because of the crowd’s reaction to their mates being up there. That’s what Chino Moreno and co have. It’s not easy to get but easy to lose and they guard it fiercely. The songs from ‘White Pony’ are familiar now, but there’s enough going on amidst the satellite mosh pit-provoking frenzy to keep ‘Change’ and ‘Feticeira’ feeling fresh. Their cover of Weezer’s ‘Say It Ain’t So’ has been de-refined to an extent that they have not so much taken possession of it as disemboweled it and paraded it through the streets on a pointed stick.

The kids love it, but they also bought millions of Papa Roach albums so you can’t trust the little tykes. Despite an array of cabinets that delivers a cranium-quivering subterranean bass growl to the very back of the hall (and this is a metal show, remember), it’s all dismally uninspiring. When singer Coby Dick spots his tattooist in the crowd, NME.COM wistfully imagines audience members being invited onstage to tattoo band members.

Instead we turn to Green Day for some light relief. It is Christmas after all, and there’s been very little dancing and no cheesy singalongs. Billie-Joe Armstrong soon sees to that, starting a Mexican Wave, brandishing a Super Soaker whilst yammering actual ad-libs. Santa’s here and if you want something fast and shiny that sounds a bit like The Buzzcocks, he’s your man. ‘Longview’, ‘Welcome To Paradise’ and ‘Basket Case’ are greeted with justifiable pandemonium and the cavernous hall feels hot and sweaty for the first time tonight.

‘Warning’ and ‘Minority’ from the new album see Green Day headed south, to The Beautiful South to be exact – instantly recognizable, slightly silly and loved by mums and dads everywhere. Armstrong even tells a Heaton-esque anecdote about pissing in his suitcase in a Dublin hotel room. It’s an ill-fitting parka, but he wears it well and in a radio town where the only chance of hearing Badly Drawn Boy is on a Gap TV ad, we’ll settle for a Christmas drink with Green Day.

Andy Wilkinson