Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Alamy)

Music

Watch Green Day play as teenagers in rare footage from 1990

@TylerGolsen

1990 was set to be a big year for Green Day. The band of misfit California punk rockers had recently changed their name from Sweet Children and were in the process of recording their debut album 39/Smooth for the legendary independent punk rock label Lookout! Records. Gigs at the equally legendary 924 Gillman Street were soon to follow, but in the early months of 1990, the band were still just playing anywhere they could.

That includes various high schools around Southern California. They were at their hometown high school, Pinole Valley High School, on May 10th when they played a raucous 52 minute set in the school’s quad for a group of their mostly disinterested peers. 39/Smooth had just been released a month prior, and the group were on the verge of becoming full-time musicians.

Coming back home was a dicey proposition and probably not a happy occasion for the band. Billie Joe Armstrong had dropped out of the school a few months prior and was likely coming face to face with a number of his former classmates. Mike Dirnt managed to be still enrolled, although he’s most likely playing hooky during this particular day and would graduate from a month later. The day after his graduation, Dirnt and the band packed up on their first tour.

Sitting in on drums isn’t Tre Cool but their original sticksman, Josh Kiffmeyer. Kiffmeyer was almost 21 by this particular performance, making him an old man compared to the other two members. Dirnt hadn’t even turned 18 yet, still a month away from that specific birthday. But his experience behind the kit, not to mention his connections in the punk scene, made him a necessary addition. Kiffmeyer would hang around until the end of Green Day’s first tour in 1990, opting to college instead of continuing with the band. Armstrong and Dirnt managed to lure Tre Cool away from their label’s namesake band, The Lookouts, to join in 1991.

The performance is undoubtedly unrefined but not sloppy or shambolic in any sense. Armstrong, Dirnt, and Kiffmeyer had been playing in this configuration for roughly three years at this point, and they were a tight, compact, aggressive unit. Songs were played with determined efficiency, and brief hangups are solved quickly. Kiffmeyer breaks a stick and grabs another one without losing the beat. Armstrong tinkers with his equipment throughout the gig but never gets distracted enough to miss a vocal cue.

The only major hiccup comes when Kiffmeyer breaks his bass drum pedal. Armstrong is goaded to play a ballad or a solo song, but he doesn’t yet have the confidence to break one out. The drum situation is quickly fixed, and the band is back in action, but it wouldn’t be long after that Armstrong began to seriously write slower, more melodic material. He might have been flummoxed here, but he would rarely be without a ballad ever again.

Check out the footage down below.