It’s an amazing thing, to go see a band you knew so well when you were 17 you could sing every song, had the track order of every record memorized, seriously considered getting a tattoo mimicking one of their album covers.
On Tuesday, myself and two of my best friends—who were there for large portions of said song-singings, track-memorizings and tattoo-considerings—went downtown to the ACC to go see one of 17-year-old Adam’s favourite bands, The Foo Fighters.
And how could we not have had a great time? The Colour And The Shape, There Is Nothing Left To Lose, One By One, those are soundtracks to suburban nights spent with the windows down, driving with the lights low, eating fast food and watching the stars shine overhead from behind the driver’s seat of my of my first car, the Fiero. Seeing the Foo Fighters on Tuesday was pretty similar to taking my whole teenage experience and jamming it into 3 hours, then forcing it down my throat like an Epic Meal Time-style cheeseburger tower. And, like an Epic Meal Time-style cheeseburger tower, there was a part of me that expected to throw that concert up all over my friends and those seated around me.
Pause for reflection.
That was a gross thing to say. Sorry.
What I mean to say, is that I haven’t seriously listened to the Foo Fighters in years. On the way downtown, I was thinking that there’s been so much living, so much music, between the last time this band and I connected, surely there’s no way I could still see eye to eye with songs like Breakout, Hey Johnny Park or X-Static.
But I was wrong. Oh, so wrong. After watching that show, I suddenly understand why old people go see The Tragically Hip fourteen times a year. A band like that, a band that you’ve liked literally since you’ve started LIKING MUSIC, just has a grip on you. It’s comforting and exciting at the same time and it reminds you of who you used to be. You’re drawn to them, whether or not you really want to be.
Luckily, Wasting Light is the Foo’s best album since The Colour And The Shape, a raw rock throwdown perfect for blowing car stereo speakers and annoying those vehicles beside me on the commute home. When it was announced, I knew I’d buy it, but I expected it to be a disappointment, like… well, like their last 3 or 4 records. Wasting Light, though, is one of my favorites of the year. I’m struck by how satisfying it is to have an artist continue to produce good work, even after their swansong’s written and done with. With Probot, Them Crooked Vultures, and now the re-energized Foo’s, Dave Grohl is really doing interesting things. He built a massive following in the ’90s, and these experiments challenge that audience to keep listening. It’s awfully easy to dismiss an artist after a few lackluster shows or products, but Dave Grohl’s a rarer breed than your average rock star–there’s an energy, a fun in his work that’s woefully missing from most music these days and that I find so refreshing.
Yes, it’s commercial, fist-pumping arena rock. But you don’t want to listen to Feist while you’re behind the wheel of a 1969 fastback Mustang with the windows down.
(Sidenote, she just released the first single of her new album. It’s really cool.)
The Foo Fighters mean a lot of things for me. That 17-year-old Adam wasn’t as dumb as sometimes i’d like to think. That old dogs can still do the same tricks just as well as they did before they were old dogs. And that Butch Vig is still one of the best producers working today. It’s nice to have my gut instinct–Dave Grohl knows what he’s doing–reaffirmed by his recent choices. Dave Grohl’s living the dream, in every sense of the word, and that, more than anything else, is why I’ll go see the Foo Fighters whenever possible: the opportunity to watch maybe the one person I know in the world who’s truly, truly in their element all of the time, comfortable and successful and damn good at what they do.
Oh. You want a REVIEW? Dave Grohl was tired. The band was tired. And, like professionals, they still played on, and played a Hell of a show. All the best stuff from the new record, most of the good stuff from the old records, and ‘Wheels’ all came out at various points in the evening.
The showmanship was what set this group apart from just about every other band I’ve seen lately. I guess hanging out with Jack Black has rubbed off on Dave Grohl, because I’ve never seen someone in the middle of a guitar duel RISE UP INTO THE AIR, LIFTED ON A PLATFORM OF PURE ROCK WITH A SHINING SILVER STAIRCASE ASCENDING INTO THE HEAVENS AS HE FINISHES HIS SOLO ever before.
I mean, Iron Maiden’s stage turned into a tank that shot lasers at the crowd, but watching Dave Grohl magically conjure his own pedestal and then cause it to lift him into the air while wailing a guitar solo was maybe the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.
The sheer rock ridiculousness of the whole evening had my inner 17–year-old jumping up and down and clapping his hands. That’s my takeaway from the show. You can grow up as much as you want, get a good job, buy a nice car and nice shoes, but your inner 17-year-old still rules the show. And you gotta indulge him every so often.
Fucked Up were incredible, but I wish the singer had stayed onstage instead of jumping into the crowd, as is his wont. That works at Lee’s Palace; not so much, at the ACC.
The encore was just Dave and an acoustic guitar, and it was one of the most intense performances I’ve seen. Every member of the audience singing along, even the ruined crackle of his voice drowned out by the unnumbered fans who’d memorized every word following him.
I don’t even LIKE that song, and I still sang along as loudly as I could. Grohl’s ability to just grab his audience and SHAKE ‘EM is unparalleled. He played 3 or 4 songs alone, and then the band came out and they played one or two more… and then finished with Everlong.
And when Everlong’s your closer, you don’t need a second encore.
You gotta promise not to stop when I say when.