Dave Grohl busts loose.
Story and Photos by Tony BonyataIt's no easy feat to stand in the shadows of the one of the most influential bands of the last quarter century, only to emerge as one of the most exciting frontmen in recent rock history. But when singer / guitarist (and former Nirvana drummer) Dave Grohl brought his band the Foo Fighters to Milwaukee's Summerfest last Monday night he made the transition look downright easy.
Slackly garbed in a loose t-shirt, saggy jeans and spotty beard, Grohl and fellow Foos, drummer Taylor Hawkins, bassist Nate Mendel and guitarist Chris Shiflett, tore through a high-octane set of raunchy rockers and familiar alternative hits for the sold-out crowd at the Marcus Amphitheater. While Grohl may have seemed surprised at the size of the crowd - at one point admitting that it was the largest audience they've played for thus far - he didn't let that stop him from delivering an intimate, yet often volatile, rock performance as if they were holed-up in a tiny club packed to the gills.
Despite a sore throat that had plagued the frontman for a few days, Grohl nevertheless worked his temporary rasp in perfectly with the guitar-fueled numbers "My Hero," "Enough Space" and their early hit "Monkey Wrench," which de-evolved into a delicious thick goo of Black Sabbath sludge by song's end.
If the music alone wasn't enough to win over everyone in the crowd, then Grohl's easygoing between-song banter and regular-guy sense of humor helped put a smile on the crowd's collective face. Before breaking into their new song "Low" from their most recent effort One By One, Grohl explained how the song's accompanying video (also featuring Tenacious D's Jack Black) was banned from both MTV and MTV2 for it's reference to homosexuality. "It takes big balls to put on fish net stockings, motherfuckers," he joked as the band strode headfirst into the number. And before an exhilarating take of "Up In Arms," Grohl coerced the crowd into a self-mocking arena rock gesture, as they held their lighters towards the sky. "I'll take a sea of lighters over a pair of tits anytime," he only half-joked as he looked out at the thousands of tiny lights.
While it would seem that Grohl's humorous demeanor, commanding vocals and nasty-ass guitar playing would be enough to rely on, there was another secret weapon to this already bombastic rock arsenal. With as much thunderous power as Led Zeppelin's John Bonham and more stamina than John Holmes on a Viagra bender, drummer Taylor Hawkins threatened to overshadowed his frontman with an aggressive, animalistic attack on the skins. On the bottom-heavy number "Stacked Actors" Grohl allowed the scantily clad and toothy Hawkins the space to cut loose with a drum solo that was jawdroppingly inspired without the usual pretensions that often turn this type of thing into a self-indulgent snooze. As far as great drummers are concerned, Grohl's choice only solidified the fact that ċit takes one to know one.'
Almost eight years to the day of the release of their self-titled debut, the Foo Fighters have somehow managed to escape the fall of alternative rock, only to emerge as a truly great rock band. If Dave and Co. are able to keep their shows half this exciting in the future, I just might take a sea of lighters over a pair of tits too.
Foo Fighters' Setlist from Milwaukee June 30, 2003
1) All My Life
2) My Hero
3) Times Like These
4) Have It All
5) The One
6) Learn To Fly
7) Up In Arms
8) Enough Space
9) Stacked Actors
11) Hey, Johnny Park!
12) Monkey Wrench
13) Tired of You
14) This Is A Call
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