Parasite-induced illness be damned, Billie Joe Armstrong promised on the 2012 Video Music Awards red carpet that Green Day was going to “create some chaos” during their live performance at Staples Center.
Promise, fulfilled — with rafter-shaking, boundary-breaking purpose. Just days after the legendary band had to cancel a show in Bologna, Italy, because Armstrong was throwing up so profusely he had to be hospitalized, Green Day took the VMA stage to bust out “Let Yourself Go,” a cut off the first disc in their upcoming album trilogy, ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tre!, which is slated for release on September 25.
“I don’t give a damn anyway,” Armstrong sang, as if we hadn’t already figured out as much.
Performing on a pink-and-green floor and surrounded by screaming fans, the performance was vintage Green Day, with drummer Tre Cool providing a lean, unrelenting backbone over which Armstrong chanted, wailed and sang-spoke. Finally, he invited the crowd to pounce. They happily complied, consuming the band in a tsunami of sweaty limbs and head-banging enthusiasm. Armstrong all but disappeared in the punk bedlam, the only indication he was still alive his pulsing cries of, “Let yourself go!”
In retrospect and in a certain way, nothing in the performance was surprising, despite Armstrong’s illness and the frontman’s pledge to bring the crazy. Green Day is a VMA legend, having won 11 Moonmen (including Video of the Year in 2005 for “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”) and performed three previous times at the show, beginning in 1994 with a raw, raucous rendition of “Armatage Shanks.” No stomach-churning bug was going to change the band or slow them down.
Before taking the stage, Armstrong told us on the carpet, “I’m doing better. It was a little rough,” adding with a sly smile, “But when you get a parasite inside your body — I’ve always had a parasite inside my body. This time he decided to dance a little bit more. We’re going to create a little chaos tonight, though. It’s going to be fun.”
Mission accomplished, Mr. Armstrong.
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