Posts Tagged ‘Foo Fighters’

Over the years, I’ve had the honour/privilege/good fortune of attending many, many live music shows. Spoiler: they’re not all created equal. Over my years of accidental research, a good show seems to be a combination of venue, crowd, seat location, and the intensity of my fandom for the performing band. When these factors are in perfect equilibrium, you get the best of the best live shows I’ve ever seen, and will never miss.

 

The xx

The first time I saw them was on their 2012 Coexist tour at Massey Hall – one of my favourite venues, because of its intimacy, worn out seats, and movie theatre-like atmosphere. I went alone as true fans do, and I wore my most comfortable pair of jeans, hoodie and Converse kicks (because obviously.)

I had the aisle seat, 3rd or 4th row from the front on the main level. I wasn’t sure what to expect because as much as I love their unassuming, nuanced, yet powerful music, I wasn’t sure how it would translate live.

But from the second they walked on stage, every aspect of their meticulously arranged music, took on a life of its own. I was so engrossed, I barely noticed when my body danced uncontrollably in my seat; you could feel the music all over.

The second time I saw them, was an outdoor show at Echo Beach, for 2017’s I See You tour, with a friend who is as much of a Stan as I am when it comes to The xx. The performance was full of so much emotion, passion, heart pangs, gut punches, near tears, euphoria, and the absolute need to dance it all away. The fact it was a standing-only venue was only fitting.

 

Nine Inch Nails

This has to go down as one of the most surprising concert experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve only seen them once, way back in 2009, when I scored free tickets to Virgin Festival at the (then) Molson Amphitheatre.

It was a long day in the sun/humidity with a fellow music fan. All the bands I wanted to see had already performed, and NIN was headlining. I’d never been a huge fan of theirs – 1994’s Downward Spiral was probably the only album of theirs I’d listened to at that stage – and even then only partly.

I wasn’t planning on sticking around, but my music fellow music fan insisted I at least check them out. So I did. And holy shit. They were super loud, punk rock, heavy metal, noisy, but in all the best ways. You could hear and feel every word, note, lyric, in spite of the noise. Organized chaos at it best.

They are so freakin’ talented, and the amount of creativity that goes into making the music they put out, is unreal. So much attention to detail, so much anger and pain, but channeled in a way that makes it understandable, approachable, even on a live stage. They just blew me away.

 

Eminem

What can I say? I’ve always loved Eminem. His rhymes are unstoppable, his flow is flawless, and he has no problem saying what’s on his mind. He rarely tours though, so when I heard he was headlining Lollapalooza in 2011 in nearby Chicago, I couldn’t resist.

I spent all day hovering around the main stage, just so I wouldn’t lose my coveted spot in Grant Park. Eminem did not disappoint. He didn’t miss a single beat during the performance, didn’t mess up a single lyric. His flow was even more smooth live, his rhymes tighter, and his delivery off the charts; he was on fire the whole time.

He performed every track imaginable, and then some. He’s an artist in its truest form, and when he performs, what you see – more than anything – is his undeniable passion; his dedication to his craft. He lives and breathes his music, and it’s an absolutely incredible thing to see.

Bon Iver

Bon Iver’s music is like a dream. Their sound is mostly soft and subtle, with some instruments peppered in along the way. Lead singer Justin Vernon’s voice is one of the most ethereal ones I’ve ever heard. Their lyrics are like poetry – lathered in imagery and metaphors, making the tracks simultaneously difficult to understand, but also wide open to interpretation.

The one and only time I saw them live was at Massey Hall in 2011 for their Bon Iver tour (they haven’t returned since.) Their entire performance was breathtaking, captivating, perfect, and beautiful. The music let your imagination run wild, and transported you to another universe. I went with a friend, and I can’t even remember if we sat together or separately, I was so entranced.

My absolute favourite moment during the show, was when they performed the track “Re: Stacks.” It was just Vernon, an acoustic guitar, and his heavenly voice. It was so mesmerizing – pin drop silence from the crowd for the nearly 7 minute duration of the song. It was – pardon the cliché – an out of body experience, shared by everyone in the room. So many chills and goosebumps that night; such musical genius.

The Killers

I’ve always liked the Killers, and enjoyed their music: it’s fun, anthemic, lead singer Brandon Flowers’ vocal styles are unique and full of character. The first time I saw them was at the ACC, on their 2013 Battle Born tour; it was a last minute situation where a friend had an extra ticket, so I tagged along.

Kerfuffle swiftly ensued, when turns out we had fake tickets. After being escorted out by a manager struggling to believe we didn’t know we bought fake tickets, and a stern phone call/email from my friend to StubHub, we were awarded with free new tickets, plus a comp for the fake ones. Winning all around.

Then, the previously dubious manager morphed into a much kinder human being, and escorted us back into the venue, to even better seats. Maybe because the circumstances worked so much in our favour, maybe because my friend is a super fan and watching anyone lose their shit at a concert is priceless. Whatever the case, the show was incredible. So much showmanship, so much flair, and so much fun.

I loved their show so much, I went back a few years later. Same venue, for 2018’s Wonderful Wonderful tour, this time alone (clearly, a pattern.) I braved the the 7 min walk in the freezing January cold, and boy, was it worth it. Such a high caliber show, one where all aspects are bigger and better. The music was louder, the lyrics more meaningful, the vocals stronger, the production more glamourous, and the energy overflowing. It’s the best way to listen to The Killers.

Foo Fighters

I’ve seen them in dingy standing-only venues; large sports arenas; outdoor festivals. Each show is unique in and of itself. We all know lead singer Dave Grohl knows how to get a crowd going. He’s loud, interactive, and knows how to put on a helluva show, along with the rest of the band.

I’ve seen Dave Grohl play standing on crutches, sitting in a throne. I’ve heard them play acoustic, and electric; endured mosh pits and lost my voice in their honour. I’ve seen them play in peak humidity, apocalyptic rain, and under perfect summer skies. Each and every time, it was a show for the books.

The amount of stamina they have is like something I’ve never seen before. Over 3 hours straight. No breaks. No encores either, simply because they’re above that. They play until they physically can’t play anymore.

Since they’ve been around for decades, seeing them live means witnessing their evolution, their history, as well as how music in general has changed over the years. They’re constantly creating, changing, and experimenting with their music. But what never changes is how well they entertain, how much fun they have, and how much of themselves they leave on stage during their shows.

 

 

 

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All bands have to start somewhere. All bands have to go through growing pains. The Foo Fighters are no exception. When grunge band Nirvana disbanded in 1994 due to lead singer Kurt Cobain’s untimely death, drummer Dave Grohl wasn’t ready to quit music. Most would have thought he would join some other band – in fact he got offered a spot with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – but he was already looking in another direction: starting his own band. After putting together a few tracks on which he played all the instruments and wrote all the lyrics, Grohl released the demo under the name Foo Fighters. He then got himself a support band and the rest is history. They recently announced an indefinite hiatus and in light of that I decided to let you all know why you should love the Foo Fighters.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They have no egos. When performing a live show, they act like big kids who are living their dream. I’ve seen them play to a full house at Madison Square Gardens. I’ve seen them play a two hour set at Lollapalooza in the pouring rain without missing a chord, note or lyric, and without a complaint. I’ve seen them play a small venue in Montreal where a friend of mine wormed his way to the front and begged Dave to play “Everlong” – which he did immediately without hesitation. Irrespective of the phase of their career, their popularity and the size of the venue, they demonstrated the same dedication to their music and gratitude to their fans. Not to mention, they don’t take themselves seriously. If you’re not convinced, check out any of their music videos. From “Big Me” – a spoof on the ridiculous Mentos commercials around at that time; to “Learn to Fly” – where band members play all the characters in the video, they definitely know how to make fun of themselves. They’re not trying to be profound and philosophical, or dark and tortured souls – they’re just having a good time playing music for a living.

They know how to change things up. Foo Fighters’ sound is very guitar heavy, always has been. What started out as more of a grunge sound, evolved to more rock and they even explored an acoustic side, when they released the two disc album, In Your Honour. One disc acoustic, one disc rock, it gave fans a glimpse into the band’s diversity, an insight into how talented they really are. Their songs can be angry and loud (think “Best of You“) or slow and quiet (think “Home“); not to mention that even within one track, it can go from really loud to really soft (think “Let it Die.”)  They’ve recorded albums in big studios, as well as in Dave’s basement and garage. They’ve recorded digitally and for their most recent release, Wasting Light, it was all recorded on tape, in analog. A difficult task demanding perfection because it can’t be changed, fiddled around with or edited once it’s done. Unless you want to start recording the track from the beginning. They’ve had three different guitar players, two different drummers and have worked with a number of producers, including the man behind Nirvana’s Nevermind, the one and only Butch Vig. They never get boring.

They’re real people, who just happen to be rock stars. In 2011, they set out on a Garage Tour. A contest in which lucky fans from a few North American cities, won the privilege of having Foo Fighters perform live in their garages. They literally go into these small garages, play a kick ass show, mingle with fans watching and in the Toronto (Milton) tour, they even allowed the winning fan to play a couple of tracks alongside them. Pretty unbelievable for a band of their caliber and status. That being they have won one American Music Award, two MTV Video Music Awards, three Brit Awards and a mere eleven Grammys. They’ve released seven studio albums, all of which were certified platinum in Canada (80,000 copies sold); 2005’s In Your Honour earned that certification three times. They’re just a bunch of guys who like to jam together every now and again; they’re people I’d want to hang out with on a Wednesday night.

Their music is exactly the same way: it’s not egotistical,  it keeps changing and it’s real. It’s just rock ‘n roll. The lyrics aren’t complicated, there’s no deeper meaning; they sing about the everyday, experiences an average person would go through, which makes it so much easier to relate to them. Fans can’t get enough because they’re able to pull off the impossible: they’re as famous as they are, without actually being famous. The band as it stands now consists of Dave Grohl (vocals/guitar), Taylor Hawkins (drums), Pat Smear (guitar), Nate Mendel (bass guitar) and Chris Shiflett (guitar.) Who knows how long their hiatus will last, who knows if they’ll ever make more music together again. What I do know is, this is why I love the Foo Fighters. And will, everlong.

The final day’s line up included Ryan Bingham and the Horses, 80s band The Cars and alt-rockers Arctic Monkeys. I got an early start because I wanted to see Toronto’s own City and Colour. I’ve seen them live twice but have such a strong love for them that I had to see them again. The sun was beating down stronger than any of the other days with zero humidity. Beads of sweat were dripping down from everywhere by just standing still. I’ve never seen them this up close and Dallas and the boys were as heartwarming as ever, giving shout outs to Canada as often as possible, telling stories about how they used to attend Lollapalooza growing up and being humbled by being able to now play it. There’s just something so Canadian about these guys, that for those 60 minutes, it felt like home.

The next few hours consisted of me walking around the park, taking in the atmosphere, checking out the food stalls (anything from gyros to chicken tikka to pulled pork), getting some great swag (I’m a huge sucker for band t-shirts) and experiencing the oh-so-disgusting port-a-potties. Shudder. After a brief rainstorm (not helping the mud puddle situation) during which bands continued to play, and hard core fans remained outside the sun came back out just in time to catch Nas and Damian Marley. Nas was great on the mic, rocking a Blue Jays hat, and Damian even did his own rendition of his father’s “Could You Be Loved”. The Foo Fighters were headlining and though I saw them years ago, I was especially looking forward to hearing them play an acoustic set, specifically for “Everlong”. But about ten minutes in, the skies turned into the apocalypse and within seconds it started to rain like I’ve never seen before, and I got drenched. I was uncomfortable, covered in mud, shivering and had water coming out of my pockets. My co-goers didn’t have the strength to wait it out, but I had to. In a true battle of me vs. the music, the music won.

People were walking around barefoot, others created mud slides, a lot of people losing clothing. I trudged through the mud almost losing a flip flop along the way, and made it over to watch Kid Cudi. The storm slowly became a drizzle and he got the crowd going right away: people were dancing around, feeling the music and it was clear that we were all there for the music. After warming up to a few of his tracks, I made my way over to see Deadmau5. His stage set up was glorious with lasers, Deadmau5 heads and strobe lights flashing along with the beats. The mud had reached my calves by now, I was still soaking wet but as soon as I heard my fellow Canadian remix Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”, all I could do was listen, take it all in and appreciate every moment.

What a weekend! I realize the idea of standing all day in the blistering heat, sweating, people crowding your personal space and if you’re barely 5′ like me, not having the greatest visibility may not sound like your cup of tea. And of course it’s more comfortable watching shows when you have a seat, when they’re elevated and you’re in your comfort zone. But I kid you not, there is nothing in the world that can replicate the energy that you feel when you’re right in the middle of it all. Sure, you can watch videos, but it’s just not the same. Your heart starts racing and it literally feels like you’re having the time of your life. The whole crowd moving together, singing together and just feeling the music together, is something everyone needs to experience because I can’t even describe it – and that’s saying something.