This is the story of, perhaps, one of the coolest memories I have of any event I've ever attended.
If you were any age between a middle schooler or college student in the late 90s-early 00s, you know that TRL on MTV was your joint. If you were in middle school, like me, you'd make sure to run home and get there in time to watch. And when watching like the devoted fan that you were, you'd see all the high school and college kids in the studio or the celebs waving down to the ones with signs on the street. You wanted to be them. You wanted to be the lucky bunch who got to be in the studio the day shit got so out of control they blocked out the windows for safety during NSYNC's visit. When my family would go into the city on the weekends and walk through Times Square, I'd look up at that second floor window and dream about being those kids one day. Dead serious.
In November 2005, I begged and pleaded with my mom to let me skip school and go into Manhattan so I could try to see Green Day at TRL. I was a junior in high school now. The keyword was "try," and she was hesitant to say yes because seeing them wasn't guaranteed and not exactly a fair trade to skip school for.
"Didn't you just see them at SNL?"
"BUT THIS IS DIFFERENT!" So she caved.
My cousin and his wife drove my brother and I into Manhattan and we killed some time around midtown. Finally, at TRL, I was able to find a space in the crowd on the street and bonded with these girls. I was wearing a pair of jeans that I hand-decorated with the guys names and various band logos. I told the girls about how my father just died and how I was currently in therapy and how Green Day was all I'd been listening to.
It started getting dark and the show was about to go on. Suddenly, a PA came out and started scouting fans to bring up to the studio. I NEARLY DIED. This was my ultimate childhood dream! But I figured they weren't going to pick me since only a small few were allowed and there were a lot of us teenage girls vying for the rare opportunity during what is arguably Green Day's most popular era ever, "American Idiot." But to my surprise, they did, and it was all thanks to the girls I had only known for an hour or two. They were pointing to me, sending the PA to me begging, "Bring her up! Bring her!" DEAD. And then I'm being told to climb over the barricade, people rush to help me, and the girls are cheering for me. It was the sweetest thing. I thanked them before I got rushed up to the studio. My family couldn't believe it either, and now they had to go wait somewhere and prepare for the aftermath of my excitement.
Up in the studio we were given instructions. They basically treated us like extras for the show but remembering we were huge fans they said, "No touching the talent, no talking to the talent, come right back here after each song..." whatever. We were only in the studio for their performances and had to run backstage right after. They kicked off the show with a classic, "Welcome to Paradise," and if you know that song, you know Mike's bass is very prominent, and I heard it above everything else as this PA was talking. I fell victim to butterflies, that magic of knowing they are right there, and the music grew louder as we headed down the hall and into the studio. Post concert syndrome headed my way for sure. Once the song was over I had to find my way out and to the doorway I came out from, but suddenly a bright light flashed in front of me and I saw the PA put her hands out and I stopped right next to the TRL hosts, stepping back into the crowd behind them as Damien Fahey introduced the show, the guests, and the first video. Once the video began, the PA motioned for me to come backstage and I ran under a camera around the lights and giddily regrouped with the others in the hall.
Throughout the show they played three songs, and so in between, we had a lot of waiting. The band had been in and out of the hallway we were in, taking photos for the press, quickly waving to us, and we would refrain from doing anything except quietly flailing and gushing and giggling. At one point, Tre Cool appears and quickly passes by, eyeballing us with a goofy but adorable grin and just goes "ladies ladies ladies." I mustered the courage to get him to notice my decorated jeans where he confusingly approved with a thumbs up and then disappeared through a fire exit door behind us. RANDOM. Flail gush and giggle.
Now right before their last song, they all came into the hall again, but this time had to come right past us. The hall was very narrow with their equipment cases stacked up on the other side. Even though the PA said not to touch or talk to them, the guys actually said hello to us and gave us high fives.
We went out for their last song and left.
Knowing the show was over, I stood in the studio for a minute after the cameras cut and people were piling out, and I took it all in... Hands on my head, wide-eyed, "Oh my god" total disbelief. It was almost too good to be true, I just saw Green Day... I just met Green Day... I just got picked from the goddamn street for TRL for Green Day.
They gave us a plastic MTV audience bracelet that took me ages to have to cut off, which my gym teacher eventually made me do.
Bonus, a year later those jeans ended up being mentioned on the MTV website during VMA coverage.