You have to admire Dave Grohl. And I don’t mean that casually; I mean it as an actual directive. Because I didn’t, back when I was a stubborn, adolescent Nirvana fan who used to respond to inquiries about my feelings on the Foo Fighters with “Dave Grohl should’ve stuck to drumming.” Out of some misplaced loyalty for my beloved Kurt Cobain, I thought everyone in his life needed to (figuratively) die with him. I seethed when Courtney entered new relationships. I scoffed at Krist’s attempt to move on with Sweet 75. But most of all, I despised Dave Grohl for daring to rise from the ashes of Nirvana to try to make something of himself.
But he did more than try, and certainly made more than “something” of himself. Dave Grohl was a drummer in one of the biggest bands of all time, and when it was pulled out from under him, he started over with a new band, in the new role of frontman (after a one-album stint as a solo act), playing a completely different instrument, and still managed to turn it into yet another award-winning, platinum-selling monster group. It’s been sixteen years, and they’re still hitting new achievements–their newest album, Wasting Light, was their first to hit the top of the Billboard Top 200.
Last night, I had the privilege of witnessing the ultimate comeback kid in person when the Foo Fighters took the stage at Madison Square Garden. The show was phenomenal, in large part because I’ve become such a ridiculous Dave Grohl fangirl. No, those weren’t tears in my eyes when he ran onstage with the band, I just, uh, had onions in both my eyes. The fact that he declared the band’s determination to play until they basically passed out (“None of those shitty two-hour sets”) and went on to play pretty much every one of their hits among others pretty much cemented my love.
I will admit to some mild disappointment that I didn’t know either of the band’s first two songs, though it’s my own fault for completely forgetting to catch up on Wasting Light. However, despite being completely unfamiliar with their newest album, one of the highlights of the night was undoubtedly their newest single from said album, an homage to a town Grohl called home once upon a time. Other major moments were a bit more obvious, including “Monkey Wrench,” which uncharacteristically featured a lengthy instrumental in a darkened arena, “Big Me,” which was seriously fun for the considerably older fans (who were, I thought, very sweetly embraced, with no trace of “How lame are you guys for still being into us now that you’re fifty?), and the always-rockin’ “The Pretender.”
The indisputable apex of the night came just toward the end of the encore–after Grohl played a few songs (including “Wheels,” which, according to him, is despised everywhere but in Germany. Little does he know that it’s quite beloved in the Dahl House) in a solo acoustic performance, after the band surprisingly and fantastically rejoined him for the end of “Times Like These,” after the band quite awesomely covered Tom Petty’s “Breakdown” (those who’ve viewed “Back and Forth,” the excellent documentary of the band that was released this past summer, have already learned that Grohl played drums for Petty during his SNL performance, which took place between the end of Nirvana and the formation of the Foos), and even after the still-kicking-ass-at-51 Bob Mould of Husker Du joined the band for another new song, “Dear Rosemary.”
None of these moments could even begin to touch upon the greatness that was JOAN FUCKING JETT coming out on stage, for her first-ever jam with the Foos, to perform “Bad Reputation.”
The Foo fighters only have two more US shows to go before their tour goes international. The best advice I could give to anyone today is to catch ’em if you can. But do yourself a favor–listen to Wasting Light first.