CW Mitchell Pavilion(Houston)
September 13, 2005
*Thanks to foofighters.com for the photos.
"This is what I do every day of my life. I scream for (insert curse word of endearment)'s like you." In between songs, Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl talked about the long amount of time he spends screaming at concerts. The man had a sweet voice when his band played at the CW Mitchell Pavilion, but he also had an unsettling howl. His face got all red, his jugular veins popped out, and I was thinking, "Ok, we get it. You're angry. Cut it out. You're gonna give yourself an aneurysm." Actually, I wasn't thinking that at all. I loved it when he screamed. It gave me permission to scream for the first time since Katrina hit, and boy did I need that release. A good rock n' roll show may not save your life, but it'll keep you alive. That's what I was thinking after Foo Fighters put on an intense performance in Houston. It was a true rock show--the kind of rock show that I don't see much of anymore. These days it's talented but self-conscious indie bands that enjoy having fun in a subdued way. Foo Fighters weren't quite so passive. The masters of sensitive and tortured pop/metal grabbed the audience by the balls and propelled them into the songs. The first sound from the band was the guitar intro to "In Your Honor," which sounded like a wall of descending chainsaws. It was a sound of impending wonder and doom. Anticipation in the air was thick, and when Grohl announced the hardcore part of the song with a scream, the place went bonkers. The epilectic light show illuminated a bouncing crowd in the front that had arms outstretched. Weezer, who opened for Foo Fighters, started their set with less fanfare, and as a result, they didn't have the crowd in the palm of their hand. From the get-go, Foo Fighters implored, urged, and straight-up MADE the audience headbang, bob their heads, and sing along with their beautiful sonic assault.
The band was tight and improvisational, a combo that kept the crowd on their toes. But, any band can be tight and improvisational. Only one has Dave Grohl, a likeable performer that crafts hook-smothered songs. He's a metal and hardcore devotee that fuses their aggression with the pop and pomposity of performers like Queen, Elton John, and Led Zeppelin. In this way, he appeals to the male and female camps. Two rows in front of me, a girl was headbanging to much of the show. It was so easy to get into the songs because Grohl was a great master of ceromonies. He understood that a good rock show is about the theatrics first and the music second. He understood that people came to see something, that they wanted to leave with something to tell their friends about. So, he gave the crowd a verbal massage with his jokes and babble about why he likes this song or why it's not so cool to wear all black(the heat outside and the lights bearing down on him made him a master of sweat). He also led into the harder, more rockin' sections of songs by screaming things like, "You ready?" or Here we go!" Dave Grohl understood the appeal of the harder sections. He understood that people came to rock, and that an acoustic version of "Everlong" or a "Cold Day in the Sun" acted more like rests and buffers between the faster songs than they did as actual performance pieces. So, he was willing to defame a few seconds of each song to show the crowd that he also knew the good part was coming and that he was gonna make it awesome. Gnarly. Bitchin'. Radical. Totally tubular(To enjoy the Foo Fighters, you don't have to talk like a character from an '80's surf movie, but it doesn't hurt).
Foo Fighters played a set culled from their last four albums. They surprisingly played nothing from their first, though. The hits were represented, along with obscure picks like "Up in Arms," "The One," and "Stacked Actors." Foo Fighters played Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Born on the Bayou" at a recent Hurricane Katrina television benefit concert, and they repeated their performance in Houston with a beefier version of the original. They followed "Bayou" with a snippet of another cover, The Angry Samoans' "Gas Chamber."
I'm a fan of Dave Grohl's drumming, whether it was with Nirvana, Tenacious D, Probot, or Queens of the Stone Age. So, when he got behind the kit before drummer Taylor Hawkins sang and played guitar on "Cold Day in the Sun," my heart skipped a beat. Too bad "Cold" was one of the most tame songs in the set. Still, before the song, Grohl air-drummed like he was destorying the set, and during the song, the familiar Grohl snare pound was heard.
Grohl is approaching 40. Let's hope he's still rocking as hard as he did in Houston when he's approaching 50.
In Your Honor
All My Life
Best Of You
Up In Arms
Learn To Fly
Born On The Bayou
Times Like These
Cold Day In The Sun