Foo Fighters @ Showbox 11.28.14

November 29, 2014

It’s been nearly 20 years since I last saw the Foo Fighters perform live. I paid $10 to see them at LaLuna in Portland in 1995.  I remember at the time my friends and I didn’t know anything about the band, only that the lead singer used to be the drummer for Nirvana.  We made t he drive up from Eugene to Portland and they rocked our faces off.  Of course that show was a bit shorter than the one last night, most of their music had yet to be written. 

It’s hard to believe that since then, the price of tickets have only doubled and that they are still playing rooms the same size.  Based on the show back in 95 I would have expected bigger things for them :)

For $20, fans were treated to a marathon of rock. This past Wednesday morning, two days before the show at about 10am the Friday night concert was announced.  Fans left their job, left school, sobered up, did what they had to do and scrambled to one of 3 separate Seattle locations to get in line. Tickets went on sale at 3:00 and they sold out long before the 3 lines could reach the end.  You’ve got to love that the Foo Fighters went old school.  No sitting in front of your computer and hitting refresh every 3 seconds hoping to be the first in line online.  Nope, get down to the venue or record store and wait in line.  Friends of mine that were there told me it was great fun.  Pizzas and donuts were being passed down the line.  People were talking to each other, laughing, speculating about the show, having a great time.  That’s been missing in music for a long time now and it’s cool the Foo Fighters brought it back to Seattle if only for a day.

In addition to taking out the impersonal internet purchase, they minimized the fun-reduction from scalpers.  Each person in line (one per household) could buy 2 tickets.  That person needed to pay with a credit card and the card needed to be presented at the door to get inside.  It created a little congestion getting in but the Showbox staff is second to none and got it done!  I was told that people were offering up to $1,000 to be a plus one for the show. $1,000 for a date..sounds like an ad in the back of the Stranger to me. 
Promptly at 9:00 the Seattle episode of the HBO series ‘Sonic Highways’ featuring Dave Grohl hit the screen.  Of course you know by now that for their new album Sonic Highways that the band traveled the country and recorded a different song in 8 different cities.  “Subterranean” is Seattle’s song and was recorded at Robert Lang's studio .  The show featured interviews with many iconic figures in Seattle music history and was fascinating to watch.  I was pretty impressed by how quiet the crowd was as most were actually watching the show.  Of course there was the random drunk guy that loves to say “Wooooooooooo” at random intervals but his voice got tired near the end so it worked out just fine. Now that I think about it, maybe he was screaming "Foooooooo!"  Same difference I suppose.

At 10:00 the Foo Fighters hit the stage and immediately started to jam.  There are few bands/artists out there today that rock as hard as the Foo Fighters.  At around midnight Dave Grohl asked the crowd if we wanted the 2.5 hour show or the 3 hour show.  It was already kind of late so of course collectively the group was like…”ehh, let’s just call it a night, 2 hours is good.” NOT!  Ha!  The band and the crowd were just getting warmed up!  At that point they broke into wedding band mode and played some random covers that were fun, funny and awesome.  My favorite cover had to be Queen’s incredible song 'Under Pressure.'  "If you close your eyes you won’t be able to tell it isn’t Freddy Mercury singing” Dave told us before he and drummer Taylor Hawkins traded back and forth on vocals.  He said it with that contagious smile in a self-deprecating manner that implied they were going to butcher the song.  Not so, it was bad ass.  It didn’t sound like Freddy Mercury but how could it?  That was a cover song I would buy and listen to over and over again. Cheap Trick, Rolling Stones and Tom Petty hit the mix too.  It was all pretty amazing.

At one point during the cover-fest Producer Butch Vig walked on stage and interrupted to let us know that there was some serious bullshit with the massive set list and that Subterranean was not on it.  The crowd booed with love, Dave called Butch an asshole and the band played the song.  Dave then forced Butch to stay on the stage for the rest of the night which I must say probably did not suck for him.   
Throughout the night Dave was interacting with fans and making random dedications.  “This one’s for you crowd surfer dude” he said as he asked security to let a young crowd surfer back into the room after being promptly ejected for hitting the stage.  “This one’s for you Slayer guy” he said after a fan in the front row yelled out "Slayer!" and Dave promptly started to play “Raining Blood.”  He stopped playing after about 15 seconds or so but damn, that would have been a great song to cover too.  All night long Dave made it a point to make eye contact with individuals in the crowd for a solid few seconds. You could see the people light up and almost float when it happened. It was that kind of a show.  Local rocker Amanda Hardy was in the front row and wrote this on her Facebook wall  “The Foo Fighters played for 3 hours... And I told Dave I loved him. He scoffed. Life=made” I think a lot of people felt pretty complete after being a part of that concert.

It is a very rare opportunity to see a band of this magnitude in a small club like the Showbox.  They will be back at the Gorge in September. While I'm looking forward to seeing what they are like on a big stage I think this show is going to be pretty tough to beat.

Mat Hayward
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