Several weeks ago, I got an email from music photographer Christina Sanchez, asking me if I was going to see The Longshot at Pappy and Harriet’s. Sanchez does not often go to Pappy’s, and because she covers bands that almost guarantee you’ll get hurt in a mosh pit, I figured The Longshot was some hard-core punk band.
Nope: She later explained that The Longshot is Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s side project—and the band is on a small, intimate tour, which included a stop at Pappy and Harriet’s. Since Green Day can fill the Rose Bowl, I had to make sure I saw The Longshot last Monday.
I was tipped off that hardcore fans had tried to camp out the night before at Pappy and Harriet’s. With that in mind, I arrived at Pappy’s at 4:30 p.m., with doors opening at 5—and there was already a long line of people waiting to get in for a 9 p.m. indoor show. You could hear Armstrong’s voice during the sound check through the 80-year-old adobe walls, and I knew I was in for a treat—but hardcore fans also mean potential mayhem. Thankfully, I was able to get a spot near the stage behind some fans. Casual polling revealed they came from Indiana, England, France, Germany and Finland. Behind them was a group of younglings dressed exactly like the Karate Kid, with matching bandannas; and some fans who took punk fashion cues from Hot Topic. I gave myself 50/50 odds that I would break a bone, or worse, a camera.
Billie Joe Armstrong walked onstage and said, “Welcome to Pioneertown! Come a little closer. … Support your local taxi drivers!” The proclamation started the first tussles and pushing and moshing. Two songs in, Big Dave, the bouncer, ejected a man-bun-wearing, middle-aged German fan for moshing aggressively.
Armstrong seemed a little rusty, sharing with the crowd on several occasions, “I am forgetting the lyrics of the song.” This mattered little to the fans and was made up for by the vocal accompaniment of the audience. Armstrong pointed to the audience and asked, “Who is going to dance on the tables?” Fans went crazy when he played The Longshot song “Turn Me Loose,” followed by a cover of Clash’s “I Fought the Law.” After the song, Armstrong said, “You know? It’s so fucking beautiful in Pioneertown, Are you guys ready to go crazy?” followed by “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones.
Toward the end, Armstrong said, “Thank you, guys. We have one more song. This is called, ‘Chasing a Ghost.’ It’s a glorious evening in California. Good night! … Oh no, I know I forgot the lyric!” The audience seamlessly filled in any lyrical gaps. Armstrong then said goodnight before returning with a three-song encore: “Ziggy Stardust,” “Kiss Me Deadly” by Generation X and “Fever Blister” by The Longshot.
It was a special night. I left as a new fan of Billie Joe Armstrong.