The show opens with a group of disaffected young adults in “Jingletown, USA.” TVs blare and flash images all around them; they are saturated in the glow. All of a sudden, one by one, these young people explode in frustration about the state of their country and their generation (“American Idiot”). One of the young men, Johnny, goes to hang out with his friend Will.Together, they drink beer and discuss how stuck they feel (“Jesus of Suburbia”). Soon, they are joined by a third friend, Tunny, and the three head out to the 7-11 to stock up on more beer. They see other teens out on the street, and realize they are equally stuck in this quotidian life.
Meanwhile, Will’s girlfriend, Heather, has just learned that she is pregnant, and is unsure of what to do. As she struggles to decide, the three boys -- including unwitting Will -- buy bus tickets to the city, desperate to escape their suburban lives. Before they can leave, Heather goes to Will and tells him about the pregnancy. He sends the other two boys off without him, and resolves to stay with Heather. Johnny and Will take off on a bus with other young people for the city (“Holiday”).
In his room in the city, Johnny writes to Will: “It sucks that you are not here.” He is energized by the city, and particularly by a beautiful girl he saw in a window; for the first time, Johnny feels that he can truly belong somewhere (“Boulevard of Broken Dreams”). Tunny, on the other hand, is struggling to adjust to city life. He sees a TV ad for the Army and is taken by the enthusiasm and determination of the soldiers (“Favorite Son”). Tunny is tired of being disaffected and numb to the world around him, so he decides to enlist (“Are We the Waiting”).
Johnny feels abandoned by Tunny, and -- in his fury -- creates a wild, drug-dealing alter ego, St. Jimmy, and tries heroin for the first time (“St. Jimmy”). With his inhibitions lowered by his high, Johnny is brave enough to approach the girl in the window, and they end up sleeping