Of all the bands that snuck onto the radio during the post-Nirvana alt-rock boom, who would’ve guessed that the bratty pop-punk act Green Day would still be one of the biggest draws, with multiple Grammy Awards and a Broadway show on its résumé? In keeping with the band’s entry into the rock establishment, Awesome As F**k is Green Day’s third official live LP, after 1996’s Foot In Mouth and 2005’s Bullet In A Bible. Green Day has only released one studio album since the 2005 live record, but Awesome As F**k doesn’t repeat much from its predecessor, nor does it lean too heavily on 2009’s 21st Century Breakdown, which provides only five of Awesome’s 17 tracks. Instead, this album is something of a victory lap, as Green Day plays its most popular songs—and a few deep cuts—in front of huge, roaring crowds.
The big attraction for Green Day fans will be a performance of the thundering throwback “Cigarettes And Valentines,” a song from the band’s scrapped album of the same name. The song suffers some—as does everything on Awesome As F**k—from what Camper Van Beethoven once called the “greatest hits played faster” effect of live albums, as soupy sound mixes and pedal-to-the-metal performances erase much of the nuance. Still, when frontman Billie Joe Armstrong exhorts the audience to make some noise as the band races toward the finish of “Know Your Enemy” or “Going To Pasalacqua,” the energy generated both by Green Day and its screaming fans is, if nothing else, all the explanation needed for how these guys have stayed at the platinum level for more than 15 years.