Sunday, October 17, 2021

Hella Mega Tour Review: Green Day, Fall Out Boy, Weezer Bring Stadium Rock Back to SoFla

Whether now is really the right time for large-scale concerts–of any genre–to return remains to be seen. But they’re here, and they don’t get much bigger than the Hella Mega Tour, which made its fifth stop at Miami Gardens’ Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.

The tour, so named for bringing together three of modern rock’s largest acts in Green Day, Fall Out Boy, and Weezer, was initially slated for 2020 before suffering a pandemic delay along with the rest of the live music calendar. By the time it did get going in late July, it did so with a new context and all the same accoutrements of a massive co-headlining tour in tow. Yes, there were fireballs, and fireworks, and the requisite “put-your-cell-phone-lights-in-the-air” moments. Pete Wentz even sported a bass guitar with a built-in flamethrower. But the overwhelming (and obvious) sense of catharsis that pervaded through the tens-of-thousands of attendees was the star of the show. 

The evening’s bill began with a brief set from The Interrupters, which I missed due to the NFL stadium-level traffic that needed to be braved to claim a spot in the parking lot. By the time I made it to my seat, Weezer’s intricate stage setup—color-coded in teal, pink, and purple, complete with fake Marshall amps and six kick drums spelling out the band’s name—was already in place. When the band took the stage to Van Halen’s classic “Jump” at 6:30 sharp, the crowd was paltry, with many attendees still trickling in, surely surprised that the action was commencing so early. 

What followed was an adequate set that ultimately constituted something of a failure to launch. Frontman Rivers Cuomo was sporting a track star outfit—complete with headband and runner’s shorts—for the duration, and the band ran through a set that touched on many of its greatest hits while mixing in cuts from its two 2021 releases, OK Human and Van Weezer. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until about halfway through the band’s hour-long set that the sound leveled out enough to actually discern Rivers’ vocals—an issue that marred the divisive band’s otherwise decent show and would pervade throughout the entire marathon concert. 

Fall Out Boy, while admittedly the band on this bill that I knew the least about, still seemed to be the most out of place of the bunch. Taking the stage at about 8:00 with a slew of pyrotechnics to accompany opening cut “The Phoenix,” it was odd to see the Patrick Stump- and Pete Wentz-led group play in between two bands whose heydays were (arguably) over before Fall Out Boy’s even got started. Regardless, the band selected songs from its reliable stable of emo/pop-punk sing-a-longs, including hits like “Century,” “Sugar, We’re Goin Down,” and “Thnks fr th Mmrs.” By the time all was said and done, the crowd—particularly the strong contingent of Fall Out Boy faithful—had sung until their voices were hoarse and Pete Wentz had garnered even more goodwill by donning a Miami Dolphins jersey for closing cut “Saturday.”

Strangely, what may have been the most moving moment of the night came between bands rather than during a set. Ten minutes before Green Day’s section of the show began, the lights dimmed for what has become a pre-show tradition for the band—a massive sing-a-long of Queen’s classic “Bohemian Rhapsody” that drew the crowd into a tizzy. Much will be said and written over the next few months about the catharsis of returning to live music, but it was no more apparent on Sunday night than when each and every one of the tens of thousands of fans in Hard Rock Stadium belted out the 1975 hit in unison. 

When Billie Joe Armstrong, Tré Cool and Mike Dirnt did take the stage at 9:30 after the aforementioned boisterous sing-a-long, they did so with considerable aplomb—kicking things off with iconic mission statement “American Idiot,” before delving into a set that touched on all aspects of the trio’s mostly illustrious 34-year career. Notably—and thankfully—the group chose to almost completely omit material from the dubious past decade of its studio output, with the sole 2010’s-era song coming in the form of “Still Breathing” from 2017’s Revolution Radio. Otherwise, it was all hits, with nearly half the set comprising tracks from 1994’s fan-favorite Dookie and 2004’s mid-career smash American Idiot. 

Taken as a whole, the closing set dwarfed the group’s previous stop in South Florida, a commendable but bloated show at West Palm Beach’s iThink Financial Amphitheater nearly four years ago. The 2021 version of Green Day seems to be a stronger and more self-aware one, putting on streamlined, campy shows that lean into crowd-stoking and roll out almost nothing but the hits. 

With a glint in his eye during a particularly rousing rendition of nimrod cut “Hitchin’ a Ride,” Armstrong thanked the crowd for its fervor with the commendation “That’s how it’s done in Florida, son.” Later on, as rain fell during the back-end of the show, Armstrong told the crowd with a genuine smile that “This has been the funnest (sic) show of the tour so far.” Usually when an artist shares similar sentiments to a crowd it feels empty, like a rehearsed snippet of stage banter to be deployed in different markets. This time, it felt real.

Despite some aforementioned sound issues that are par for the course at a stadium-sized show such as this one, the Hella Mega Tour was comfort food for thousands of South Florida fans that had been starved for live music over nearly 18 months of quarantines and lockdowns. During a night of strong performances from three larger-than-life rock bands, the real headliner was the communal experience itself.

SETLISTS:

Weezer

  1. Hero
  2. All the Good Ones
  3. Beverly Hills
  4. Hash Pipe
  5. The End of the Game
  6. My Name Is Jonas
  7. Pork and Beans
  8. Feels Like Summer
  9. All My Favorite Songs
  10. Undone – The Sweater Song
  11. Surf Wax America
  12. El Scorcho
  13. Island in the Sun
  14. Africa (Toto cover)
  15. California Snow
  16. Say It Ain’t So
  17. Buddy Holly

Fall Out Boy

  1. The Phoenix
  2. Sugar, We’re Goin Down
  3. Irresistible
  4. Uma Thurman
  5. Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy
  6. Save Rock and Roll
  7. The Last of the Real Ones
  8. Dance, Dance
  9. A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More “Touch Me”
  10. This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race
  11. My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)
  12. I Don’t Care
  13. Thnks fr th Mmrs
  14. Centuries
  15. Saturday

Green Day

  1. American Idiot
  2. Holiday
  3. Know Your Enemy
  4. Pollyanna
  5. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
  6. Longview
  7. Welcome to Paradise
  8. Hitchin’ a Ride
  9. Rock and Roll All Nite (KISS cover)
  10. Brain Stew
  11. St. Jimmy
  12. When I Come Around
  13. 21 Guns
  14. Minority
  15. Knowledge (Operation Ivy cover)
  16. Basket Case
  17. She
  18. Wake Me Up When September Ends
  19. Still Breathing
  20. Jesus of Suburbia
  21. Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)
James Biagiotti
James Biagiotti is the web editor at Boca magazine and a native of Boca Raton. He is an avid music fan who spends far too much time listening to, dissecting, and traveling to see his favorite bands. He is also, unfortunately, a devoted Miami Dolphins fan.

Related Articles

Latest Articles