"Thanks for causing a f**king riot," Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl told an intimate crowd on Friday night (Dec. 5) in New York City. And though it may seem like the rocker was joking, he wasn't. People really did riot earlier in the day in an attempt to get one of just roughly 1,000 tickets to the "Something From Nothing" band's show at Irving Plaza.
And it's mildly understandable why Foo fans would freak out. As a part of Foo Fighters' HBO documentary and new album Sonic Highways, the "Something from Nothing" band has been playing small club shows in each city from the show and record. After weeks of anticipation, it was finally NYC's turn, and the chance to see the biggest band in rock - who normally play to crowds exceeding 30,000 - at such a small venue was tantalizing.
Music Times was on the scene alongside the lucky ticketholders to see Foo Fighters play for nearly three hours, ripping though their discography and even covering some classic rock on the way, in celebration of America's rich history, which Grohl well documented on his show.
After a screening of the New York episode of Sonic Highways, Foo Fighters took to the small Irving Plaza stage at roughly 10 p.m., eschewing greetings for straight rock 'n' roll. Before even speaking, the band ripped through "Outside," "The Pretender" and "Learn to Fly."
A video posted by Music Times (@themusictimes) on Dec 12, 2014 at 12:24pm PST
Though the show was in promotion of Sonic Highways - the Foo's eighth studio album, which dropped in October - the majority of the setlist was made up of singles and fan favorites from the band's backlog. Just five songs from the new LP made the cut - "Outside," "In The Clear," the Nashville-inspired "Congregation," lead single "Something from Nothing" and the New York song "I Am A River."
Fittingly, Foo Fighters gave "River" its live debut in the Big Apple, preceding the track with a love letter to the city. That wasn't the only lovelorn moment of the night.
At least two subjects from the NYC episode of Sonic Highways were in attendance at Irving Plaza, Woody Guthrie's daughter Nora and the owner of the NYC recording studio The Magic Shop, Steve Rosenthal. Rosenthal was one of Grohl's first interviewees for Sonic Highways, and their conversation shaped a lot of the TV show and the album. To help thank him, Grohl called him out. "I want to stare at you right in the eyes while I sing you a love song," he joked before turning up the lights in the studio and staring directly at Rosenthal through "Big Me."
Ever the good player at his "bar mitzvah," Rosenthal responded to Grohl's flirtations by taking off his shirt, showing off his greying body, while dancing to the swoon-worthy Foo single.
Beyond singles, the Irving Plaza show was celebrated with a trio of rock classics, covered by the Foo Fighters. The cover portion of the set began with a take on The Rolling Stones' "Miss You" before the band launched into Tom Petty's "Breakdown" and, a half-serious, half-hilarious cover of "Under Pressure."
"Close your eyes and pretend like you're just at Rosenthal's bar mitzvah," Grohl joked after admitting nobody can really touch David Bowie's original version of the track.
The show was loud - nobody said the acoustics of such a small venue fitted Foo Fighters best - and oftentimes the vocals got lost in the three thrashing guitars courtesy of Grohl, Pat Smear and Chris Shiflett. But the trade-off for the mess of noise was being just feet away from Grohl and allowing the band to go wild as he ran around during one song, hoisting himself up into the rafters.
It was the intimacy of the venue that allowed the Foo Fighters to mess with some of their signature songs, getting loose and jamming on "Monkey Wrench," "All My Life" and even giving drummer Taylor Hawkins an extended drum solo in "My Hero," which the band admitted was a rare occurrence. The show was so small that Grohl could even pick out one new Foo fan, "Mark" and introduce the band to him personally.
So, it's understandable why fans who couldn't get into the show would riot. It was a rare and intimate occurrence, a once-in-a-lifetime event for fans of the 20-year-old band. And those in attendance knew they were lucky, as did the Foo Fighters.
Learn to Fly
Hey, Johnny Park!
Cold Day in the Sun
I'll Stick Around
In the Clear
Something from Nothing
Times Like These
Miss You (Rolling Stones cover)
Breakdown (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers cover)
Under Pressure (David Bowie & Queen cover)
All My Life
This is a Call
I am a River
Best of You