Green Day’s Armstrong finds ‘freedom’ with side project

Updated May 7, 2018 - 7:41 pm

You’d have thought he was robbing the joint.

“Get your hands in the air!” Billie Joe Armstrong commanded over and over again, his voice elevated in unison with all the outstretched arms before him.

His exhortations were hardly necessary — the capacity crowd Friday night at Beauty Bar was as amped as the thing volumizing Armstrong’s guitar as he led The Longshot, the latest of the Green Day frontman’s numerous musical side projects.

But you could understand where the guy was coming from: With Green Day, Armstrong’s used to playing arenas, even stadiums from time to time, where outsize energy levels are required to reach those in the nosebleed seats.

It’d be hard to imagine that Armstrong could have envisioned Green Day finding that kind of success when they emerged as a scrappy, Bay Area indie pop punk band three decades ago.

This may explain why Armstrong still considers himself something of an outsider in the musical mainstream that he’s been ensconced in since 1994, when Green Day first took self-aware, self-lacerating slacker ennui to the top of the charts.

“I’m a hyena at the dog and pony show,” Armstrong howled at one point on Friday, underscoring this sentiment.

And so The Longshot exists as a way to blow off some of the steam generated by the heat of his main gig, a means for Armstrong to kick out the jams with a few friends, on stage and off.

“I’m gonna make a racket, I’m gonna start a riot,” Armstrong sang on “Turn Me Loose,” his words, that song title, pretty much encapsulating The Longshot’s modus operandi.

The songs on the band’s recently released debut, “Love Is For Losers,” contain plenty of shared DNA with the latter-day Green Day catalog: the seismic chord changes, the anthemically tossed-off melodies, the shout-along choruses.

The difference is in the delivery: raw, urgent, unrefined.

And fun.

“This is freedom, man, rock and roll, ” Armstrong beamed late in a show in which he seldom seemed to stop smiling. “I do not take that phrase lightly: rock and roll.”

Earnestly tracing Armstrong’s rock and roll genealogy was a big part of what this evening was about, manifesting itself in a series of telling covers: The Ramones’ “Rockaway Beach,” The Replacements’ “Bastards of Young,” the Rolling Stones’ “As Tears Go By,” The Nerves’ “Walking Out of Love,” among others, during the band’s 20-song set, which came and went in just over an hour.

The band, which made its live debut less than a month ago, was taking the stage for just its seventh gig.

“This is the biggest show The Longshot has played,” Armstrong noted. “It’s the tallest stage, for sure.”

Performing outdoors on a Friday night, the band ate up its surroundings.

“We’re from Las Vegas tonight,” Armstrong bellowed, cataloging some stereotypical Sin City indulgences that he was allegedly going to partake in afterward, including throwing up in an Uber and losing all his money at the craps table.

This looseness translated directly into The Longshot’s tunes, from the show-opening punch of “Kill Your Friends” to power-pop hand-clapper “Taxi Cab” to the revved-up longing of “Chasing a Ghost.”

“Well, it ain’t the same,’ ” Armstrong sang on the latter number, where memories of the past catalyze a present-day numbness. “Ain’t it a shame?”

No one can turn back time.

But maybe a song or two can come close.

Contact Jason Bracelin at or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

Entertainment Videos
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Taste of the Town: Henderson Booze District
Those who like to support local businesses and sample local products will find the best concentration in an unlikely spot: a Henderson industrial park.
Founder of Las Vegas theater talks about a favorite play
Ann Marie Pereth, founder of A Public Fit Theatre Company, speaks to the Review-Journal about which play she would see every day if only given one option. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N interactive exhibit
The new exhibit features original and recreated props and plenty of interactive features. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas ice cream shop offers everything in the kitchen sink
Have you ever wanted to eat an ice cream sundae out of a kitchen sink? Who hasn't, right? At Sloan's, located inside the Venetian, you can do just that. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Maxie’s in Las Vegas puts eggs Benedict in a box
Chef David Mangual at Maxie’s in The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas makes his eggs Benedict in a brioche “box” layered with spinach, bacon and tomatoes and topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caviar Twinkie Served at Stripsteak in Las Vegas
Stripsteak Executive Pastry Chef Vivian Chang and Chef Gerald Chin create a novel savory food item that looks like a familiar sweet treat at the restaurant in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
NAB attendees battle to qualify for Fortnite event
NAB is sponsoring an online video game event with Epic Games’ Fortnite allowing attendees to qualify to go head to head with top players. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Arctic Shrimp Sandwich at Saga near Las Vegas
Chef Gert Kvalsund, a native of Norway, founded Saga Pastry + Sandwich in Henderson to give Scandinavians a taste of home. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk UNLVino
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk about the upcoming UNLVino vent. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Christie Brinkley at Smith & Wollensky
Christie Brinkley, in town for her run in “Chicago” at the Venetian Theatre, paid a visit to the Grand Canal Shoppes’ still-under-construction Smith Wollensky on Monday for a ceremonial first toast at the bar. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Two artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas
2 artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside Kaos nightclub and dayclub
A look at new club at Palms.
CinemaCon Brings Theater Professionals To Caesars
CinemaCon is not just celebs, it's also a place where theater owners can browse the latest in seats, projectors and concessions. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas restaurants provide a taste of ballpark food
The Las Vegas Ballpark, home to the Las Vegas Aviators, will serve food from Giada De Laurentiis and a team of favorite local restaurants. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Taste of the Town: Bobby Flay Opens Shark at the Palms - VIDEO
Bobby Flay opens Shark at the Palms; his first high-end restaurant in 15 years.
Chef Marc Marrone at T-Mobile Arena
Chef Marc Marrone has opened a bao cart at T-Mobile Arena. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio fountains celebrate 'Game of Thrones'
A medley of the theme for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and the song “Winter Is Here” from the show premiered at the Bellagio Fountains water show on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday, March 31, 2019. The new number will run in rotation through April 13. The series premieres its eighth and final series on April 14. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegan Aunt Chippy talks about being on Jimmy Kimmel's show
Concetta Potenza, Aunt “Chippy” to Jimmy Kimmel, talks about her first time being featured on her nephew’s show. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro at Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro At Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cotton candy crowns pancakes in Las Vegas
At Maxie’s at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, executive chef David Mangual fills pancakes with fruit and cream cheese and piles on pastel cotton candy, which is melted in a stream of chocolate syrup. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Bananas Foster Pancakes go up in flames at The Stove near Las Vegas
Chef Antonio Nunez at The Stove in Henderson, near Las Vegas, flames the pancakes tableside for a fiery presentation. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
El Loco Rollercoaster at Circus Circus' Adventuredome
The El Loco rollercoaster opened at the Circus Circus' Adventuredome in February 2014. It features a 90-foot ascent, followed by a drop that produces a negative 1.5 "verticle G," a 180-degree turn, and reverse 240-degree roll that turns into an inverted drop. The coaster reaches a maximum speed of 45 mph and is the only indoor coaster of it's kind in the U.S., and is the second indoor El Loco coaster in the world, according to MGM Resorts.
Bartending flair competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show
Highlights from the ten contestants who competed for the Shake It Up Flair and Classic Competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Justin Kingsley Hall shares details on his next gig
Chef Justin Kinglsey hall shares some details about the newArts District restaurant he's developing with Kim Owens. (Al Mancini/Las Vegs Review-Journal)
Film prompted Carrie Hogan to found 2 farmers markets in Las Vegas
Carrie Hogan founded Fresh 52 Farmers and Artisan Market in Las Vegas after realizing she had to do something about the influence of factory farms on the food supply. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Home Front Page Footer Listing