It doesn't make Rocks Off feel happy to say that he sometimes doesn't get into all the shows that he thinks he is entitled to seeing by some inner decree he has made to himself. Sometimes we have to sit out the cool stuff, but that doesn't mean we can't stand outside the said cool stuff and review what we hear, without the benefit of being there in person.
Strong men also cry.
This is a review of the Foo Fighters show last night at Stubb's, from the vantage point of the bridge directly behind the stage. The event was a corporate SXSW show, meant only for those with interactive badges, seeing that the show was the closing treat for that other, more bath-oriented side of SXSW.
Why the band couldn't have stuck around to close the music side of the festivities is beyond us. We only have a music badge, leaving us like the proverbial bridge trolls that we see ourselves as anyway. Sad face.
Early in the evening someone started a rumor that the band would only be playing a handful of songs at Stubb's, coinciding with the premiere of their new band documentary Back And Fourth at the SXSW film festival. That wouldn't be the case, as the band played their entire new album, Wasting Light, from front to back, plus another set of career-spanning hits.
"We're fucking movie stars!" screamed lead singer/guitarist Dave Grohl as the band hit the stage, opening with Lights' leadoff cut, "Bridge Burning." This is a grizzly Foos album, not as polished as the past few, owing mostly to its genesis (more or less) in Grohl's garage studio. "Rope," the first single, is easily the catchiest track, besides our new favorite, "White Limo."
There are new melodies and elements in this model of the Foo Fighters, with old guitarist and forever Germ Pat Smear back in the fold for the first time since late 1997, and Grohl just coming off drumming for the brutalizing Them Crooked Vultures for the better part of 2009 and early 2010.
There's just a different swagger to this band now. We wanna say a mellower whiskey taste, with latter-day Led Zeppelin renderings throughout. It's got a bump and grind to it. A big standout was the swelling "Arlandria" coming halfway through the Lights set, and "I Should Have Known," which features former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic's bass and accordion work on record, but not live.
After the stellar Lights outing, the band settled into a set of their super-hits, from "All My Life," "My Hero" and "Times Like These" to lesser-known cuts like "Stacked Actors" from 1999's There Is Nothing Left To Lose. The latter got a metallic blues rendition, skewering the original while keeping that killer chorus intact. "Everlong" just gets better as the album it came from, 1997's The Colour And The Shape, turns 14 this year.
Personal Bias: Sure wish we could have been inside Stubb's.
The Crowd: Mostly inside Stubb's, where we weren't. But probably really nerdy.
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Overheard in the Crowd: "It sure is nice to be watching this show and hearing the music together," said a concertgoer inside the venue, possibly buying a beer.
Random Notebook Dump: At least now we know that we could still review shows if we were somehow blinded.