They arrived early, despite the music falling on a Monday. They came young and old, despite two of the three co-headlining bands dating back to the ancient 1990s. And they showed up largely unmasked despite the lack of vaccine requirements.
In short, Minnesota fans were hella-excited for the Hella Mega Tour, the biggest rock show in the Twin Cities this summer.
Finally pulling into Target Field a year later than planned, the four-band, 5 ½-hour rock concert seemed to knock all the worries and woes of 2020-2021 out of Target Field like a home run when Nelson Cruz still played for the Twins.
From the moment opening band the Interrupters took the stage at 5:30 p.m. — ahead of (in order) Weezer, Fall Out Boy and Green Day — the capacity concert crowd of more than 35,000 fans looked outwardly enthused and seemed blissfully unconcerned about COVID worries.
"How many of you are at your first concert of the year?" the Interrupters' Kevin Bivona asked as the hot sun bore down on the stage in center field.
The grassy field, almost completely covered in rubber flooring, was the one thing tightly masked at the event. Even the Interrupters set had fans join in chorus with their snippets of Billie Eilish's "Bad Guy" and Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It."
Giant video screens and a well-tuned mega-sized sound system extended out of the stage, reminding even the nosebleed-seat fans that Minneapolis' MLB stadium is still leagues above its NFL stadium as a concert venue.
The acoustics were buoyed further by Monday's many singalong moments. This concert was loaded with enough radio hits for a Time Life box set — and with a retro hard-rock vibe like a flashback to 1988's Monster of Rock concert at the Metrodome.
Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo arrived sporting a Camaro-worthy mullet and pointy Jackson Pro guitar, looking like he came straight off the Sunset Strip. He then went full-scale metal-shredder in the new song "The End of the Game" before channeling his band's crunchiest mid-'90s rocker "My Name Is Jonas."
While fans stayed invested, the members of Weezer looked a tad disinterested as their hourlong set blazed on — especially when they halfheartedly delivered their hit cover of Toto's "Africa."
Reiterating its status as a worthy if gimmicky arena-level band after some downturned years in the early-2010s, Fall Out Boy went full-on metallic right away in its opening song "The Phoenix," during which Pete Wentz's bass guitar doubled as a flamethrower. Near the end of its set, parents had a bonding moment in "Centuries" and "Thnks fr th Mmrs" singing out loudly with their teens; not counting the dads out by the beer stands.
Wentz talked about how special a moment it is for his band being in the middle of Hella Mega: "We're so inspired by both those bands."
Green Day proved to still be big, bouncy and rowdy enough to top off the Mega bill. After a full-throat "Bohemian Rhapsody" audience sing-along, the trio kept the crowd enraptured through "American Idiot," "Holiday" and "Know Your Enemy." There probably hasn't been a concert in Minnesota in five years with a more electrifying opening 12 minutes.
There were several more such montages throughout the 90-minute set, including the finale with "Jesus of Suburbia" and "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" and the mid-set segment of extra-punky oldies "Longview," "Brain Stew" and "Hitchin' a Ride" paired with a cover of the most metalhead party anthem of them all, Kiss' "Rock and Roll All Nite."
With his snide and cynical demeanor of old long gone, Billie Joe Armstrong seemed downright sentimental Monday shouting out his Minnesotan wife's hometown. "I've had so much fun here over the years," he said.
The singer even came off sweet when admonishing fans to put down their video screens: "We've been staring at our phones throughout this pandemic. Now we got each other!"
We do for now. If concerts start to postpone again with renewed COVID fears, this one will go down as the best reminder of what we've been missing.
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658