Posts Tagged ‘Foo Fighters’

You can recognize a Nirvana song from miles away. Their music was the anthem for an entire generation, and a founder of the grunge movement. Their lyrics were filled with anger, depression, apathy, self-deprecation; their sound was heavy, distorted and loud; themes often revolved around drugs and escapism. That may not seem appealing to some, but for a teen growing up  in the 90s, it was everything.

When you turned on a Nirvana album, you knew what you were getting yourself into. They presented an alternative to mainstream, a change from the barrage of leftover 80s rock and current 90s pop. They were there for you when you needed them, standing by your side; I mean who doesn’t want to mosh and head bang when they’re in a bad mood?

Recently, after days of rumblings, every 90s adolescent had a dream come true: a Nirvana reunion. Dave Grohl reprised his role on guitar, Krist Novoselic returned to play bass, Pat Smear (touring guitarist for Nirvana) played guitar, and they borrowed the vocal stylings of both Joan Jett and John McCauley (of the band Deer Tick.)

In  honour of this nostalgic event, here are the best Nirvana tracks.

In Bloom, Nevermind, 1991

 

Dumb, In Utero, 1993

 

Man Who Sold the World, MTV Unplugged in New York, 1994 (David Bowie cover)

 

Drain You, Nevermind, 1991

 

About A Girl, Bleach, 1989

 

You Know You’re Right, Nirvana, 2002

 

Lithium, Nevermind, 1991

 

Where Did You Sleep Last Night, MTV Unplugged in New York, 1994 (Lead Belly/Mark Lanegan cover)

 

All Apologies, In Utero, 1993

 

Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nevermind, 1991

 

 

 

 

 

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The final instalment for this Live Series, has been a long time coming. My love affair with the Foo Fighters began when they formed, back in 1994. They have always been on my side, always known what to say. Between 2003 and 2018 (15 years!), I have had the honour and privilege of seeing them live 5 times. In 5 different cities. Here’s how they all went down.

2003 – Montreal, Auditorium de Verdun, One by One Tour

In the summer of 2003, I moved to Montreal with my best friend (at the time.) It was our first time living away from home, but we quickly fell in love with Montreal. One of my fondest memories was my first ever Foo Fighters show, 4 albums deep into their career.

They performed at the Verdun, capacity approximately 4,100. Our group of 8 picked our spot in the general admission standing area. It had to be the hottest, most humid day of the entire summer, and the air conditioner was broken (or at least it felt that way.)

As soon as the show started, the energy took over, and not a single person was bothered by the stifling heat, no one noticed the stench of sweat in the air. A mosh pit soon formed, and the brave ones navigated their way to the front of the stage, unscathed, only to come face-to-face with the band (note: my short-ness prevented me from being said brave one.)

It was the first time I heard “Everlong” live, and I was hooked (note: I walked down the aisle to an orchestral version of it.) As I stood under the coldest shower I’ve ever taken, – something had to diffuse the heat – I knew then that I would be a fan forever (Also: I cannot believe this video exists.)


2008 – NYC, Madison Square Garden, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace Tour

I moved to NYC in 2007 for work. I was 25, finally finished school, and ready to see what the world had in store. I have always found that mutual music interest is an easy way to make friends, and at the time, the Foos were on heavy radio rotation.

After a botched attempt at seeing Lenny Kravitz (I don’t want to talk about it,) we were looking forward to the Foos show for weeks. By this time, they were 6 albums in, and playing a much larger venue – capacity 20,000+ – with an extended catwalk-like stage, bringing the band even closer to the fans.

The Foos did not disappoint: they were a more finessed version of their 2003 selves, but with as much energy (if not more,) passion and fun. It was the first time I heard “Stranger Things Have Happened,” as well as a live acoustic version of “My Hero,” and the goosebumps lasted for days (see 23:40.)

 

2011 – Chicago, Lollapalooza, Wasting Light Tour

The first major outdoor summer music festival I ever attended, my initial reaction was: Lollapalooza is bananas. Over 65,000 attendees, so many bands, so much music, and so little time to take it all in while also staying hydrated, finding a good spot from which to watch the bands, staying fed, and not giving in to heat stroke.

Foo Fighters were one of the headliners, now with 7 studio albums under their belt, a fan-favourite Garage Tour, and a documentary about them, called Back & Forth. I went to the festival with friends, but we all had our own bands we wanted to see, so for a large portion of it, I was roaming around solo.

On this particular day, the heat and humidity had reached their peak, and the gray, overcast skies morphed into their evil cousin: apocalyptic skies. A few minutes into the Foos’ set, they were inundated with torrential downpour.

I retreated and watched from a distance, the band barely in view (I have a strong aversion to rain.) But the Foos, like true champs, kept right on playing – for 2 hours – and set the stage on fire. Metaphorically, of course.

 

2015 – Boston, Fenway Park, Sonic Highways Tour

When the Foos announced this tour, I tried furtively to get tickets to their Toronto show, to no avail. I blame ticket bots. Luckily, my partner in crime agreed to hunt them down with me in Boston for their show at Fenway Park – capacity approximately 37,000.

By this time, the Foos had released their 8th studio album, Sonic Highways, as well as an HBO series of the same name. A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the album, which involved recording each track albums in a different city, and using conversations Grohl had in those cities, to form the lyrics for that track. Artistry at its best.

The unique thing about this tour was Dave Grohl performed with a broken leg (an injury incurred at a previous show.) Because he physically couldn’t stand, he played and sang from a throne covered in guitars, specifically designed for him, and like the badass he is, even attempted to perform on crutches.

It was a 3-hour long show, and my favourite one of theirs ever. I have never seen such commitment, enjoyment, musicianship and rock ‘n roll.

 

2018 – Toronto, Rogers Centre, Concrete & Gold Tour

15 years after I first saw them live. 9 studio albums, 3 documentaries, and 1 short-lived hiatus later, I finally got to see them live in Toronto, alongside 53,000 of my hometown friends, on a beautiful summer night. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

 

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.