Show Review: Foo Fighters ACL Taping (11/20)
“We’re gonna keep on playing until they kick us the f**k out, so here’s a song you might know,” announced Foo Fighters lead singer/guitarist/documentarian/nicest mother**ker you’ll ever meet, Dave Grohl, before launching into “My Hero,” from the 1997 album The Colour and the Shape. It was one of countless surreal moments from the final episode of the 40th season of Austin City Limits on Thursday night.
The show’s executive producer, Terry Lickona, was not joking around when he told the audience they were in for a “special treat” before introducing the 7-time Grammy award winning band. The Foo’s kicked things off with a personal favorite of mine, “Aurora,” from 1999’s There Is Nothing Left to Lose, and literally, never lost my attention during the next THREE HOURS. This wasn’t a show…it was a goddamn experience. So by the time Grohl commanded everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) in the Moody Theater to get off their asses before “Learn to Fly,” it was evident…twenty years later, these dudes are still loving every second of what they do.
During the first hour, fans were treated to a collection of some of the Foo Fighter’s greatest hits. Some of the highlights included a “Times Like These,” “The Pretender” and “Monkey Wrench.” I thought to myself, “Seriously, how many f**kin’ hits do these guys have?” A LOT. “The reason why we played the first bunch of songs without stopping is because we got a hundred fuckin’ songs to play,” Grohl shouted.
Of course, the night included some special guests. To coincide with the band’s HBO series, Sonic Highways, they played “What Did I Do?/ God as My Witness,” which featured local blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr., and a cover of The Fabulous Thunderbirds’s “Tuff Enuff” featuring Jimmy Vaughan. It was a very interesting moment, yet proved to be one of few low points in the set. While I knew exactly what the Foo’s were trying to do (take us back to the ghosts of ACL tapings past), blues guitar and the band’s moniker of loud guitars and loud drums simply didn’t mesh well together.
Thank “God,” shortly after, Grohl had an idea, and that idea was brilliant… (cue up the opening guitar chugs of “All My Life”). I shit you not, that song was made for arenas and if it was any indication of how the crowd reacted to the rest of that song that night, you would’ve thought the Moody Theater was the freakin’ Astrodome.
THEN…things took a turn for the “What. The. F**k?” Grohl put down his guitar and went out into the crowd, wandering aimlessly around the Moody armed with a bottle of champagne. From dancing on random ladies to taking selfies with kids in the mezzanine, he let drummer Taylor Hawkins take lead vocals, while Gary Clark Jr. and company launched into the Rolling Stones song, “Miss You.” After this happened, the Foo Fighters transformed into the greatest wedding band of all-time launching into Cheap Trick’s “Stiff Competition,” Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure,” Tom Petty’s “Breakdown,” and (“f**k it!”) Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love.” I still can’t believe that happened. They literally threw all of their inhibitions out the window and reminded me of why I love them so much in the first place…they still like to have fun.
Of course, that fun, at times, during the rousing three hour set, did have some consequences. “One or two extended outros is cool but f**kin’ TEN?!? Did “Rope” really have to be extended to 8 minutes??” Unnecessary jams-aside, I couldn’t think of a better way for the Foo Fighters to close the evening out than with their 1997 hit, “Everlong.” After witnessing everyone in that building bounce around like pogo sticks to that song, it felt like a dream I had when I was fifteen, and to this day, it still makes me happy. Bottom line: The Best ACL Taping I’ve Ever Been To. Thank you.
Image courtesy ACLTV’s Scott Newton.