When: Sat., Aug. 29, 7 p.m. 2015
You either love or hate Foo Fighters founder and front man Dave Grohl. There’s no middle ground. Affable and good-hearted, Grohl’s become the kind of rocker major-label execs dream about: the nice-guy superstar who still approaches the world with the enthusiasm of a friendly kid from down the street. But as Foo Fighters set up camp near the forefront of the rock-radio culture in the aughts—a position they partly attained through mere longevity—they began releasing albums with diminishing returns. More recently Grohl’s ubiquity has become a liability, and he still can’t escape the “fresh pots” meme in which he wilds out on coffee. Celebrating their 20th anniversary, Grohl and company mixed things up on last year’s Sonic Highways by recording each track of the album in a different U.S. city. It was an admirable challenge that turned out to be a great exercise in b(r)and synergy when the Foos turned the record’s making into an eight-part HBO series, with Grohl interviewing each city’s music heavyweights to help inspire the lyrics (two of tonight’s openers, Cheap Trick and Naked Raygun, are featured on the shallow, imbalanced Chicago episode). But the words, a bunch of ripped quotes and gobbledygook, are the worst part of Sonic Highways; when Foo Fighters aren’t subsuming distinct regional sounds—the horn parts from New Orleans track “In the Clear” resemble a Disneyfied version of the French Quarter—they’re blasting guitar riptides with the same might that made them anthemic-rock heroes. And Grohl’s delivery is so earnest it’s clear he remains passionate and motivated. A seasoned band like Foo Fighters can keep trucking along on reputation alone; it’s nice to see at least some spark is still there.
Price: sold out