LIVE PHOTOS: Foo Fighters, The Struts
Review by Greg Maki
The Anthem, a gorgeous new waterfront music venue in Washington, D.C., is officially open for business, and owner Seth Hurwitz could not have picked a more appropriate act for its inaugural show than Foo Fighters—led, of course, by Northern Virginia native Dave Grohl.
The Foos were on fire from the start, with Grohl storming the stage and telling the capacity crowd of 6,000 it was going to be a long night—the band’s set lasted two and a half hours—before launching into a fiery rendition of “I’ll Stick Around,” a song that can’t possibly be—but somehow is—22 years old. From there, the hits kept on coming—”All My Life,” “Learn to Fly,” “The Pretender,” “Walk,” “Monkey Wrench,” “Times Like These,” “Best of You,” “Everlong”—the list goes on and on.
They were broken up only by songs from the band’s latest album, “Concrete and Gold”—a pair of those (“Run” and “The Sky is a Neighborhood”) already appear to have reached fan favorite status—and Grohl’s exuberant stage banter. Whether he was telling stories about visiting the nearby fish market and watching local bands in the city while growing up, or extolling the virtues of his Honda Odyssey minivan, Grohl was in high spirits and seemingly as excited to be there as the fans.
Prior to this, the last time I had seen Foo Fighters in concert was 1998 (I also saw them twice in 1996), and there’s almost no comparison between then and now. At that point, Grohl was only a few years into being a singer and frontman, and the band obviously didn’t have the impressive body of work it now boasts. The Foo Fighters of today have grown—literally. In addition to Grohl on vocals on guitar, the lineup comprises lead guitarist Chris Shiflett, rhythm guitarist Pat Smear, original bassist Nate Mendel, longtime drummer Taylor Hawkins and keyboardist Rami Jaffee. (The band was augmented further by a trio of female backing singers on two songs from the new album.) They were a remarkably tight unit, and Grohl sang, shouted and screamed his vocals with power and passion.
I moved around to several spots on the floor of the venue, and the sound mix was just about perfect everywhere I went—a credit to both the band and the designers of the Anthem, which is large enough to host bigtime shows without losing the intimacy of a smaller venue. Think of it as the 9:30 Club on steroids.
In short, it was a special, triumphant night—a celebration of what might be the greatest American rock band of the past 20-odd years and a christening of a venue that instantly changes the game for live music in the nation’s capital.
FOO FIGHTERS SET LIST: “I’ll Stick Around,” “All My Life,” “Learn to Fly,” “The Sky is a Neighborhood,” “The Pretender,” “These Days,” “Rope,” “Big Me,” “Congregation,” “Walk,” “My Hero,” “Sunday Rain,” “Arlandria,” “Monkey Wrench,” “Dirty Water,” “Make It Right,” “Times Like These,” “Breakout,” “Run,” “Bitch” (Rolling Stones cover with Seth Hurwitz on drums/Taylor Hawkins on vocals), “Best of You,” “Everlong”
The music began earlier than the 8 p.m. time printed on my ticket with Trouble Funk, a funk/R&B group that must have had at least a dozen people on stage and which the internet tells me helped popularize the go-go subgenre in the Washington, D.C., area in the 1980s. This was completely unexpected, and it was a nice touch to have an important local act included at this historic show.
Next up, the English rock band The Struts showed they could be on the fast track to one day headlining venues of this size and stature. Frontman Luke Spiller, channeling equal parts Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury, worked the stage like a pro, while the crowd ate up their glam-rock-infused sound, singing along to radio hits “Kiss This” and “Could Have Been Me.” This is a band to watch in the years to come.