Last Night: Foo Fighters at Toyota Center
: Having a Heath Ledger sad-a-thon by watchingA Knight’s Tale
in your dank apartmentDownload
: Last year’s expandedThe Colour and the Shape
reissue, plus the acoustic disc from 2005’sIn Your Honor
Just hours ago, I saw Dave Grohl turn into Good Time Bono. I think the tipping point was when he barreled down the walkway his band brought with them last night like a truant teen running from the pigs.
Grohl doesn’t preach third-world debt relief, just the gospel of unchained energy. He’ll never have an audience with a president or a pope. He’ll just regale us with stories of recording Nevermind and drinking Jager with Lemmy from Motorhead. And that is why Dave Grohl is the most lucky and beloved man in rock.
Under the crown of a lysergic-tinted light show, Grohl’s Foo Fighters greeted Houston for the first time in almost three years with the majestic “Let it Die,” the second track off of last years Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace. From then on, each and every one of the fans in attendance was ensconced in a world that has taken the band almost 13 years to cultivate.
Through six albums varying from wildly influential, sonically reaching and maybe one or two being iffy, Grohl and the Foos have laid down a definitive template. This is a precise and razor-sharp regime that knows how to bend every emotion out of its fans. Every Foo Fighters song, especially fast and corrosive ones like “Cheer Up, Boys (Your Make Up Is Running),” are crafted for maximum effect. The hooks are always the bait for the throwdown that ensues during the choruses. By that time, you’ve already screaming your lungs out with Dave and you haven’t even left your car.
“This Is a Call” is more than 13 years old, but lumped in between newer songs like current Grammy nominee “The Pretender,” you wouldn’t know that. Jesus Christ, even this band’s older output still sounds groundbreaking, like playing your old Playstation games on a PS3. You start seeing new shit and never realized just how bitchin’ your favorite was.
Each song was embellished with the interplay between guitarist Chris Shiflett and Grohl’s Slayer-cum-Cheap-Trick riffing, sometimes going off into tangents that burst onto the churning pit like an eruption. 1999’s “Stacked Actors” turned into a lost Metallica track from the Black Album sessions.
At the midpoint of the two-hour set, a small stage was lowered directly into the center of the floor the arena. What ensued in that small, intimate circle, bathed in a blood-red light, brought fans even closer in to the workings of this monolith. We were treated to a Neil Young and Crazy Horse style jam, reworkings of warhorses like “My Hero” and even the lost early demo track “Marigold,” from the days when we Grohl was just laying down demos with Kurt Cobain sitting in the control room.
Younger bands come out swinging; attempting to emulate something that took bassist Nate Mendel, drummer Taylor Hawkins, Shiflett and Grohl years to achieve. But what they don’t understand is that to create something like the Foo Fighters takes almost a decade. Now they’re a fine wine being passed down through each rock and roll generation.
We saw Gen-X parents with children, teens with nautical-star tats and even a few graying metalheads. No one is really doing true rock shows like this anymore, free of gimmickry and elaborate stage sets. All the Foos need is a packed house, our lung capacity and the belief in a few power chords to make their magic happen.
Personal Bias: I had my first kiss back in the ‘90s as “Everlong” played over the crappy stereo in my room.
Random Detail: Pat Smear, ex-Germs and Nirvana guitarist and longtime Foos associate, was seen peeking out to play on a few songs. Somewhere Darby Crash is grinning through bloody lips and chipped teeth in pride.
By the Way: Beer is way too scarce past ten o’clock at the Toyota Center. I’m packing a flask next time. – Craig Hlavaty