From The Pit! FOO FIGHTERS at The Showbox!
By Grady Tyree
In the wake of the 2013 music documentary, Sound City, Dave Grohl created a mini-series based on the same premise, but instead of putting all the focus on one particular studio, he chose eight iconic studios to document, and in each, he and his Foo Fighter bandmates — Pat Smear, Chris Shiftlett, Nate Mendel, Rami Jaffee, and Taylor Hawkins — would record their eighth studio album, Sonic Highways. Eight cities, eight songs — Chicago ("Something From Nothing"), Washington D.C. ("The Feast And The Famine"), Nashville ("Congregation"), Austin ("What Did I Do? / God As My Witness"), Los Angeles ("Outside"), New Orleans ("In The Clear"), Seattle ("Subterranean"), and New York ("I Am A River") — a pretty simple, but exhausting undertaking for a band that was supposed to be taking a break after their 2011 release, Wasting Light.
As each episode aired on HBO, the Foo Fighters would put on "secret" shows that would be announced the Wednesday prior to the airing, and if you were one of the lucky ones, you scored a ticket to three hours of amazing rock-n-roll! Such was the case this past Thanksgiving week in Seattle, as Dave, Nate, Pat, Rami, Chris, and Taylor unveiled their plans to play the Showbox Market on Black Friday, sending thousands of fans into a frenzy to hop in hours-long lines at three locations last Wednesday — Easy Street Records (West Seattle), Sonic Boom Records (Ballard), and the Showbox box-office (downtown) — all in hopes they could secure tickets for the show on Friday. I got lucky.
Upon entering the Showbox, I saw a myriad of video screens posted in every available nook and cranny for the viewing of the Seattle episode, and right on cue at 9PM, the lights went out, the screens lit up, and the crowd beamed with pride as the opening shots scanned through Seattle. It was pretty cool watching this in a room filled with people who were present when the scene was happening, a surreal feeling indeed. As the episode concluded with "Subterranean," the screen on stage retracted and the band was plugged in and ready to fuckin' rock!
Beginning the set with "Winnebago," "The Feast And The Famine," and "Learn To Fly" assured everyone in the joint that this would be an all-inclusive set list, hitting cuts from every release, and delving deep into the Foos eight-album catalog! The heaviest song from Wasting Light, "White Limo," really got the floor moving, awakening the metalheads in the crowd who began to surge forward and circle the open spaces like sharks in bloody waters. There was a three-song flow that took us all back to 1997, as Grohl launched into "My Hero," "Hey, Johnny Park!," and "Monkey Wrench," which ended with everyone screaming the infamous, long-winded diatribe that comes towards the end of the latter song. Following this flashback, the Foos quickly brought us back to present day with "Congregation" and "In The Clear," both from Sonic Highways. "I’ll Stick Around" and a stripped-down version of "Big Me" kept the party going as Dave and Co. weaved through "Something From Nothing," "These Days," and "Wattershed" to round out the first hour-and-a-half of badassery!
About halfway through the show, the band donned their "fan hats" and knocked through a batch of covers, starting with "Miss You" (Rolling Stones), followed by "Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love" (Van Halen) and "Breakdown" (Tom Petty). The next cover was something especially cool, as Dave took his natural spot behind the drums and Taylor jumped up front to take lead vocal duties, and the band ripped into an awesome version of Cheap Trick’s "Stiff Competition"! Then Butch Vig came out with Barrett Jones and grabbed the mic to rat out Dave for not including the Seattle-inspired song, "Subterranean," on the 32-song set list, and pressed Dave to play the song, but only if Barrett was on rhythm guitar and Butch could "produce." So, before we knew it, Barrett was strapping on a beautiful guitar, Butch had disappeared behind Taylor and the drum kit, and the opening chords of the song began to pour from the speakers as everyone inside let the song wash over them. After "Subterranean," the Foos blew us away with one more cover for the night, as Nate began laying down the infamous bass line of "Under Pressure," followed by Taylor and Dave offering up their best impersonations of Freddie Mercury and David Bowie.
The final stanza of the night began with the only cut from 2002's One By One, "All My Life," followed by a couple of cuts from their self-titled debut, "This Is A Call" and "Weenie Beenie," both of which re-energized the crowd with youthful exuberance. Dave made sure to let the crowd know they would not be playing the encore game and instead proclaimed that the band would stay on stage and bring the house down when they were done. They finished the amazing three-hour rock show with "Best Of You" and "Exhausted" before closing the whole thing out with "Everlong", leaving the audience exhausted and enthralled.
This definitely was a once-in-a-lifetime show; getting to see a band like the Foo Fighters in the Showbox at this point in their career was truly an experience I will not forget.